It's time for the Ravens to loosen reins on Flacco

October 18, 2010|By Mike Preston

If the Ravens didn't have a meeting with Joe Flacco Monday, then they need to have one Tuesday morning. After the overtime loss to the New England Patriots Sunday, there was a sense of frustration from the third-year quarterback.

Flacco didn't say a word about it in the locker room Sunday, but he came close by mixing his words, and it was written all over his face as well as some of the receivers. It might be time for coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to give Flacco some rope.

He led fourth-quarter comebacks in the Cleveland and Pittsburgh games and was solid for a half against Denver. He played extremely well for three quarters against the Patriots until Cameron took the ball out of his hands and tried to place it in the stomach or hands of running back Ray Rice for almost every play.

It was obvious that Flacco was not pleased. He didn't defend the conservative approach late in the game and seemed irritated that he was forced to run certain plays, like the pass late in the game down the left sideline to tight end Todd Heap where Flacco never looked at another receiver.

It was apparent Sunday that Flacco was told where to throw the ball and that he couldn't check out of certain plays. That was a solid game plan for the previous two seasons, but this is Flacco's third year. The Ravens don't have to turn Flacco into Peyton Manning, but they drafted Flacco in the first round three years ago because they thought he was a franchise-caliber quarterback.

Unless they loosen the handcuffs a little bit, they'll never find out if he can lead them deep into the postseason when quarterbacks have to be at their best.

Enough already

The NFL needs to stop playing around with these blows to the heads, or helmet-to-helmet hits. Instead of just a fine, start giving these players immediate one-game suspensions.

The shot by Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather on tight end Todd Heap in the second quarter was cheap, so slimy that even New England coach Bill Belichick was irritated by it.

Worse yet, Meriweather attempted three cheap shots at Heap during the game. Fines aren't enough for these guys. Now, if you start taking away game checks, we'll see a difference.

Harbaugh said he would be in favor of the suspensions.

"Absolutely, I'd be absolutely all for that," Harbaugh said. "We're all responsible to adhering to the rules."

Ravens should shut it

I'm glad the Ravens are confident that they would beat the Patriots in a rematch later in the season. Certainly, they gave the game away Sunday because they lacked the killer instinct.

But they don't need all this jawing going on between linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

When all the talking needed to be done, the Patriots did it on the field, and the Ravens ought to be quiet. The bottom line: Patriots 23, Ravens 20.

No McGahee trade – good

The trade deadline is Tuesday, and it has created gossip about the Ravens. Because running back Willis McGahee didn't play Sunday, there is speculation again that he is being shopped around.

Harbaugh said that wasn't the case. He said the reason McGahee didn't play was that Ray Rice was going well, and the plays and surface worked well for Rice.

"There is no Willis trade talk," said Harbaugh. "He will be on the team this week and for the rest of the season."

Good. That means the Ravens didn't get a good enough offer to make the deal Monday.

Ravens' weakness

Harbaugh admitted that the two-deep coverage used by the Patriots, which has been an Achilles' heel of this offense, caused the Ravens trouble again Sunday.

"We need to attack and grow a little bit better at it," said Harbaugh. "Obviously, we need to get the ball downfield better."

Reed, the unpredictable

The Ravens expect Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed to begin practice Wednesday after coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list. The Ravens think Reed will add another dynamic to the defense because opposing team won't know where he will line up.

That's funny, because neither do the Ravens.

Beware the Bills

The Ravens better be careful about the winless Buffalo Bills coming to town. The Ravens have a bye the following week, and a lot of players might be looking forward to some down time at certain vacation resorts, or back home.

The Bills might be 0-5, but the Ravens will get their best effort. For Buffalo, it's all about pride. If the Ravens are 5-2 heading into a bye, that's a good position to be in after seven games, especially having played the Jets, Steelers, Bengals and Patriots on the road.

Birk at his best

I wasn't sure center Matt Birk would make it through the season because of shoulder and neck injuries, but he played extremely well Sunday.

The 13-year veteran might have been the Ravens' best offensive lineman.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

Listen to Mike Preston on "The Bruce Cunningham Show" from noon to 2 p.m. on 105.7 FM.

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