Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Flacco is no ordinary Joe

Moral victories and $2 in the NFL get you nothing more than a medium sized cup of ordinary Joe at Starbucks. Yet it is hard not to walk away from the Ravens’ loss to the Steelers on Monday night without feeling that the Ravens’ Joe is anything but ordinary.

Joe Flacco embraced the stage and bright lights of Monday Night Football and within the span of 3+ hours he became a beacon of hope for Ravens’ fans who have clamored for a play maker at quarterback for over a decade.

A little less than a year ago, the Ravens were completely embarrassed by the Steelers on that very same MNF stage, thrashed by the score of 38-7. And believe it or not as bad as that score was it was not indicative of the Steelers’ complete domination.

This time around, minus Steve McNair and plus Flacco, the Ravens stood toe to toe with the AFC North divisional favorites and proved to a national TV audience that John Harbaugh’s gang just might play a prominent role in completing the playoff picture of the AFC.

The loss to the Steelers drops the Ravens back a step in the standings yet it also represents a step up for the team and their rookie signal caller. Although he came unglued there for a bit in the third quarter, Flacco rallied and put together a convincing fourth quarter drive to knot the game at 20 and ultimately force overtime. Undoubtedly there are throws that Flacco would like to have back and I’m equally sure that he would like to have protected the football better prior to his fumble forced by James Harrison. Yet when we consider the expectations for this team just four weeks ago and where they sit today coupled with the unsettled landscape of the AFC, the Ravens appear to be on the rise.

The same cannot be said of Todd Heap. Given offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s history of featuring tight ends, Heap’s disappearance is a bit of a mystery. Against the Steelers Heap was kept in to help out with pass protection more than usual but even so it isn’t hard to expect a few catches from Heap in key situations to move the chains. On Monday Heap was shut out. The Ravens roster is missing a blocking tight end and until the Ravens discover one off the free agent scrap heap, Todd Heap will be MIA against tough defensive clubs like the Steelers. The loss of Quinn Sypniewski during OTA’s is beginning to loom large.

Another Raven who has been MIA is Mark Clayton. Through the first 3 games this season Clayton has 5 catches for 35 yards. Over the course of the last 18 games in which he’s played dating back to the start of the 2007 campaign, Clayton has only 53 catches for 566 yards and he hasn’t had a TD catch since Christmas Eve 2006. It’s time for Clayton to make a statement because a tag labeled “bust” is now being fitted for 2005 first round pick.


Ravcolt said...

Forget the challenge, and forget JJ's penalty. Cameron should have taken the ball out of the rookie QB's hands in the second half and pounded away at the middle of the Steelers line with fresh running backs. The Steelers were without two starting linemen, our tackles couldn't pass block, and the combination of Neal, Rice (one touch?) McClain and the NFL's fifth highest paid running back would have beaten them down much the same way we did in our first two games. This was a horribly called second half by Cameron. And what's the love affair with McGahee all of a sudden? Play the guys who want to play. That's why we brought Harbaugh in here--to change the culture. The second half was simply a maddening reversion to old Ravens football. Do what you do well, and keep doing it. It a'int rocket science.

Harryos29 said...

harry os 29 9/30/08
...while listening to my Favorite (NOT!!) drive time Sports talk host on MASN today... one of the Call in Celebrity guests was Brandon Lang...the Handicapper.
...Well..he came on with a 10 minute tirade about HOW the Ravens were stupid to pass the ball in the second half.. he Blasted both Harbaugh and Cameron for calling plays that put Joe Flacco the young QB in JEOPARDY. I wish I had taped it; Because I agreed with every comment that Lang made about the Loss in Pittsburgh last nite!!