Friday, May 09, 2008

Differences under Harbaugh are immediately noticeable...Flacco impressive

The contrasting styles of John Harbaugh and Brian Billick were immediately apparent during the team’s first and only mandatory mini-camp of 2008. Despite the availability of a state of the art indoor facility less than 100 yards away, Harbaugh had his squad of 80 practicing outdoors in a steady rain.

Many have questioned the Ravens inability to play in inclement weather. Even members of the organization have quietly opined that the team’s subpar play in rain was directly linked to Brian Billick’s refusal to practice in such conditions.

Players slipped and passes sailed but overall the mood was very upbeat. The QB’s were dressed in red jerseys while the rest of the offense wore purple. The practice jerseys are much closer to the actual game jerseys than they’ve been in the past, each decorated with the player’s name, embroidered numbers and team logo. Perhaps Harbaugh subscribes to the dress for success philosophy.

Most eyes centered upon No. 5 – Joe Flacco. While it is still extremely early and he’s proven nothing as of yet, Flacco throws perhaps the best looking ball from a Ravens’ quarterback since Vinny Testaverde. Despite the wet conditions, the rookie’s passes had zip, they spiraled tightly and they were for the most part on the mark. His deep passes arched high and hit receivers in stride. During 7 on 7’s Flacco hit Mark Clayton down the left sideline for a 60 yard scoring strike.

Troy Smith was inconsistent and at times appeared a bit too mechanical. Several passes sailed high especially those thrown to his right. The Ravens have mentioned that they may incorporate plays specifically designed to maximize Smith’s skills and if today was any indication, that talk is hardly lip service. Smith worked on several designed rollouts and even faked a handoff to McGahee out of the shotgun and kept it while running around the right end. The play included a pitchout option to Smith’s right.

Kyle Boller has never been a mudder and today was no different. He was off the mark often. On the very first play during 7 on 7 drills, Boller locked in on his receiver running a curl out of the backfield. Ray Lewis read it and timed it perfectly, intercepting the short pass and taking it in for a score.

I’ll chime in with more observations tomorrow morning…


Anonymous said...

It's about time the Ravens started practicing in the rain. For a team that so totally sucked in real game situations when it rained, it was beyond absurd for Billick to keep bringing them indoors every time it rained. This is truly a new era for the Baltimore Ravens. And it's long over due.

It also sounds as if we've finally got a QB who can at least lead this team to be competitive, instead of looking like the Little Sisters Of The Poor. I bet Ray-Ray was chuckling to himself as he crossed the goal line with Boller's int securely in hand.

Anonymous said...

heard that nakamura and gooden were the stars of the afternoon...any news?

Tony Lombardi said...

Just posted other day 1 observations