The Baltimore Ravens rewarded Joe Flacco's incredible postseason run by making him the highest paid player in NFL history, leaving some concerned and uneasy about the future with the inconsistent quarterback.
Flacco looked unbelievable in the last game of the regular season that actually meant something (New York Giants) and throughout postseason play, which just happened to coincide with the team switching from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell at offensive coordinator and inserting Bryant McKinnie at left tackle.
Flacco's performance down the stretch begs the question: Did the quarterback just get scorching hot at the right time, or did the changes finally help him realize his full potential?
The sample size is so small, so it makes it difficult to know how good he really is. The blame for this has to fall squarely on the shoulders of John Harbaugh, whose stubborness kept Cameron as the offensive coordinator for far too long and left McKinnie in his doghouse.
Cameron should have been let go a couple of years ago. There was constant criticism about his playcalling and it was clear that Flacco and several other prominent offensive players did not like their offensive coordinator. Harbaugh kept Cameron because the two go way back and have a great friendship.
Considering how close they were the past several years, you have to wonder if the Ravens might have another Super Bowl under their belt if a change at offensive coordinator was made sooner.
As for McKinnie, it's no secret that Harbaugh isn't a fan of his work ethic in practice and buried him in his doghouse. Ironically, Dannell Ellerbe is another player that was previously in the doghouse. Thankfully, he was let out and showed that he can be a major contributor.
As soon as McKinnie was moved to left tackle and Michael Oher to the right side, Flacco's protection greatly improved and he was finally able to survey the field and get the ball to his receivers.
If these changes had been made much sooner, the Ravens would have been able to see whether the changes really made the difference for Flacco or he simply caught fire over a short period of time.
We won't know until next season, which is too late. Flacco already has his record-setting deal, and the Ravens will have to hope that what they saw in the postseason was the start of a special career for their franchise quarterback.