Distractions the last thing the Ravens need before Sunday

Wrong time for Reed to air his comments

January 18, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Quick, what's the last thing the Ravens need going into Sunday's AFC championship against the New England Patriots?

If you answered a full-blown controversy that involves one player taking shots at another and distracting the team from game preparations, you win the prize. But that's exactly what we have now with this whole Ed Reed-Joe Flacco dust up.

Maybe you heard: Ed Reed had a few things to say about Flacco the other night on a satellite radio show. And they weren't very complimentary.

He said the Ravens quarterback "was kind of rattled a little bit" during Sunday's 20-13 win over Houston in the divisional-round game.

He said Flacco "needed to get rid of the ball" a couple of times and that "it just didn't look like he had a hold on the offense."

"It was just kind of like they {were} telling him {what} to do – throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys," the eight-time Pro Bowl safety said.

And he said Flacco "can't play like that" against the Patriots if the Ravens hope to win.

Anyway, Reed's remarks quickly made national headlines. And they were endlessly dissected on TV and radio sports-talk shows from coast to coast.

Why Reed pulled such a bonehead move and chose to criticize his quarterback days before the biggest game of the season is anyone's guess.

But as a result, the Castle was in full damage-control mode Wednesday when local and national media descended on the place.

And apparently the strategy for dealing with the whole controversy was this: circle the wagons and tell 'em as little as possible.

John Harbaugh, who was in a foul mood – gee, I wonder why? – said he had talked to Reed and some of the other Ravens and "I understand where we're at. Now we'll get ready for Sunday."

"I understand where Ed's heart is," the Ravens coach said. ". . . I'm sure there are some things he would have liked to have said a little better. If you look at the whole context and hear the tone of his voice and the message he was trying to communicate, it's a good message.

"But obviously things could have been (said differently.)"

Oh, you betcha. Or not said at all before a big game.

Most of the Ravens were as tight-lipped as their coach on the whole controversy. Ray Lewis didn't want to talk about it. Neither did Terrell Suggs, who'll usually talk about anything if you stick a microphone in front of him. And Reed himself slipped in and out of the locker room during the media availability and then was nowhere to be found.

The only one who spoke honestly – if reluctantly – about the whole thing was Flacco.

"Yeah, I talked to Ed about it," he said. "It was a little funny to me. I was caught off guard. But it is what it is. We talked about it. It wasn't that big of a deal."

Understand, when Flacco says it "was a little funny," he doesn't mean ha-ha funny. He means weird-funny.

When a reporter asked if he was offended by Reed's remarks, Flacco's face clouded over.

"You know, when I first saw it, I was probably like 'What's going on?'" he said.

(Translation: I was stunned.)

"But we talked about it," he continued. "We're a team around here. It's really not that big of an issue. I don't really take things that bad. It is what it is."

Making it doubly hard for Flacco was that he was out at a restaurant when news of Reed's comments flashed on the TV, which is the kind of thing that'll make you lose your appetite in a hurry.

Again, what would compel Ed Reed to dog his quarterback on national radio just days before the AFC championship?

Who knows? But whether Reed's criticism of Flacco was valid or not – me, I thought Flacco had a pretty good game against the Texans – or whether he could have phrased it better, his timing couldn't have been worse.

If you're unhappy with the way your quarterback's playing and you're trying to get a message across to him, do it one-on-one behind closed doors.

Don't call him out through the media, without even a heads-up that you're about to rip him.

Any maybe – just maybe – don't do it right before the biggest game of the year.

No wonder Harbaugh looked like someone had just torched his car. You know how football coaches are. They're obsessed with eliminating distractions.

And now what Harbs has on his hands is the King Kong of all distractions.

Kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."

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