In 2006 and 2007 I saw a few University of Delaware games, and I was always impressed with their Quarterback, Joe Flacco. He was a tall young man from New Jersey who had originally enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, but was passed over by the coaching staff. He wanted to play football, and decided to transfer to the University of Delaware for his Junior and Senior years. Pittsburgh's loss was a big gain for the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens. Joe Flacco had amazing arm strength and accuracy as a passer, and could scramble out of the pocket and run for positive yardage when his pass protection broke down. As a leader, he seemed unflappable, calm and decisive. I said to some friends, "I hope some NFL team drafts him, I think he can play pro football." Well, the Baltimore Ravens either heard me or read my mind, because they drafted Flacco in the first round.
Now I'm certain that they thought of Joe as a "clipboard" rookie who would stand on the sidelines and observe for a few years while the other two Raven QBs would do the actual playing on the field. That is normally what happens to rookie QBs in the NFL, especially if they come from a Division I-A college team!
But injuries and inconsistent play by the "veterans" in pre-season forced Coach Harbaugh to give Joe more playing time in the exhibitions, and he became the Ravens starting Quarterback for 2008. As the weeks went by, he played steady and kept improving. He has led the Ravens into the Playoffs and now, following Baltimore's epic victory over the highly-regarded Tennessee Titans, he stands on the verge of the AFC Title game next week, and a very possible Super Bowl contender.
Win or lose, I think Joe Flacco's accomplishments are tremendous. I am happy for him and he gets my vote for Rookie of the Year. Excuse me please, Atlanta Falcons, your first year QB had a good season too, but he failed in his first Playoff test. Joe Flacco has taken his team much much further than anyone thought possible!