I don’t think there is a great deal of debate as to whom the greatest player in the history of the Baltimore Ravens franchise is. Some may argue Jonathan Ogden, but the vast consensus will inevitably fall to Ray Lewis, albeit begrudgingly by his many detractors.
Lewis the second Raven draft pick ever behind Ogden, but he was the only Raven to play on both championship teams in 2000 and 2012. He racked up over 2000 tackles in 17 seasons, not to mention over 40 sacks and nearly 50 turnovers. So when he speaks on a matter related to the Ravens, generally, people listen.
And he is not sold on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, if you go by what he said on Fox Sports 1 recently. While acknowledging that he is “gifted”, Lewis said that he doesn’t think the quarterback is “passionate” about the game. “I’ve never seen that” from him, he said. “I don’t know what that looks like”, meaning a passionate Joe Flacco.
And to be clear, he wasn’t simply saying that he is not a very emotional person. If you follow his comments later on, he was saying that as an indictment of Flacco as a player. “Maybe it’s because his personality just isn’t that personality. He’s not a rah-rah guy”, he said. “But, in the game of football, there has to be some burning fire behind you”.
And Lewis was strongly indicating that Flacco doesn’t have that burning fire. It is probably at this point that it should be noted that this isn’t simply the old guard commenting on the new. Lewis and Flacco were teammates for five seasons, and won a Super Bowl together. He is commenting about somebody with whom he shared a locker room for half a decade, and who helped him get that long-coveted second Super Bowl ring.
Jamison Hensley pointed out that Flacco hasn’t always been so flattering toward Lewis either. In the year after Lewis retired, he told reporters, “if you listened to those speeches, a lot of them didn’t even make sense. He meant everything he was saying, but I didn’t know what he was talking about 90 percent of the time”.
Lewis also said that he thinks Flacco needs those strong personalities around him to help him play up to his potential rather than isolating himself on the bench, pointing to Steve Smith as an example of that type of player.
In a year in which he is coming back from a torn ACL, Flacco is completing 62.5 percent of his passes, but for just 6.26 yards per pass attempt, the lowest of his career. His three touchdown passes last Thursday brought him up to nine for the season, and he also has nine interceptions, with a 78.3 quarterback rating, the second-lowest mark of his career.
Currently, the Ravens lead the AFC North with a 5-4 record, one game ahead of the Steelers, but are looking at the Cowboys in Dallas as their next opponent. The betting lines have Baltimore heavily favored to see their two-game winning streak come to an end in Texas.