Did Joe Flacco's rehab from a 2015 knee injury cause his up-and-down 2016 season?
"The recovery from what everybody else says that they are not back completely, did that mess with his mind? Did that mess with his timing, his accuracy?" Owner Steve Bisciotti said, via the team's official website. "I think it did."
Flacco disagreed, dismissing the idea that the lingering effects of the injury caused any struggles.
"I don't think it had an effect on me this year," Flacco said earlier this month.
The quarterback later conceded that the knee injury suffered in 2015 can still use some healing (i.e. it wasn't 100 percent this season).
"When you are only seven or eight months out of an injury, no matter what it is, there is going to be a growing process for it," he said. "This offseason will definitely help with that."
Flacco set a franchise record for passing yards in a season with 4,317 -- the first time he'd broken 4,000 in his nine-year career. Yet he was woefully inconsistent while attempting a career-high 672 passes -- 58 more than his previous high in 2013.
The Ravens attempted to run a Jim Bob Cooter-style quick pass offense this season, rarely leaning on the run game and limiting the shots taken downfield. Flacco's inconsistent accuracy -- which his owner attributes at least in part to the lingering knee issues -- killed that attacking style.
The game plan was questionable without any knee issue. Flacco's best asset is his deep ball. And it's not like the Ravens' run game was uncompromisingly woeful when given a chance. Baltimore averaged just 22.9 rush attempts per game, ranking 30th, while averaging 4.0 yards per carry, ranking 20th.
The offensive inconsistencies led many to believe offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg could be fired. Coach John Harbaugh decided to keep him, although Baltimore did add Greg Roman as senior offensive assistant/tight ends coach.
Bisciotti believes a full offseason of work will lead to a more consistent Flacco and help Baltimore back to the playoffs after missing the past two years.
"I'm pretty optimistic that Joe is going to be better next year than he was," Bisciotti said. "That, to me, is the biggie on the offensive side of the ball."