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Ravens QB Joe Flacco struggling after signing huge contract in offseason

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Updated: November 13, 2013 11:03PM

The Bears are expecting Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s best Sunday at Soldier Field, but the reality is that the only certainty about Flacco these days is his paycheck.

After a glorious and perfectly timed playoff run last season — in which he threw 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions and had a 117.2 passer rating in leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl championship — Flacco is back to being an inconsistent quarterback still trying to prove he belongs with Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and the elite NFL signal-callers.

Flacco, 28, set the bar that high when he parlayed the Super Bowl run into a then-record six-year, $120 million
contract. (It since has been eclipsed, in terms of value per year, by Rodgers’ five-year, $110 million extension.) But he’s off to a slow start.

Flacco hasn’t been quite as wildly inconsistent as he was last season, when he had six 100-plus passer ratings but averaged a 68.1 rating after each of them. But with
receiver Anquan Boldin traded to the 49ers, tight end Dennis Pitta out all season after undergoing hip surgery and running back Ray Rice averaging 2.5 yards per carry,
Flacco has been mired in

His 77.3 passer rating (12 touchdowns, 11 interceptions) ranks 25th in the NFL. Even in the Ravens’ four victories, Flacco has been mostly a caretaker, with a 77.8 rating (three touchdowns, three
interceptions) and 198 passing yards per game.

‘‘We just haven’t been sharp enough,’’ Flacco said. ‘‘We haven’t been precise enough in the passing game, and we haven’t really been able to get any yards in the running game. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve been good at times — a quarter or a half — but we haven’t been able to put two halves of football together.’’

Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t even want to
address the issue.

‘‘You guys can look at that and try to figure it out,’’ Harbaugh told Chicago-area
reporters on a conference call Wednesday. ‘‘I’m not getting into all that right now.’’

Flacco still is a threat. He has 10 completions for 40 or more yards — third-best in the NFL — including a
74-yard touchdown pass to leading receiver Torrey Smith and a 63-yard pass to Marlon Brown. Right now, though, he’s back to being just another good quarterback with a big arm.

‘‘Flacco is a great quarterback,’’ Bears defensive tackle Corey Wootton said. ‘‘He’s big. He’s a lot more mobile than people expect. He can get outside the pocket, so containment is a big issue. He’s holding the ball a little longer than most teams, so we ought to definitely be able to get after him.’’


Twitter: @MarkPotash

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