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Joe Flacco Taking Command At The Line

Posted Aug 20, 2012

Joe Flacco can better decode what an opposing defense is doing with more time at the line.

Joe Flacco is playing conductor these days.

He rubs his elbow, pats his butt, makes hand signals and points out linebackers.

In the Ravens’ new hurry-up offense, Flacco is starting to act a lot more like other boisterous veteran quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, that fans have noticed on television.

Flacco said the changes aren’t as big as they may appear, saying “we can make it look a little bit more dramatic.”

And that’s exactly the point.

Defenses won’t know what’s real and what’s not. From pure appearance, Flacco is making numerous changes every play.

“You can start trying to play with [defenses] a little bit,” Flacco said.

The Ravens have used what’s called a “Sugar Huddle,” which is when the offensive line doesn’t come back to the huddle, but just turns and listens to Flacco’s calls. The receivers come close enough to hear.

Flacco said he prefers to run no-huddle. That gives him more time at the line of scrimmage to survey the defense.

On Sunday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Flacco now often goes to the line with a few play options and makes a choice based on what he sees.

Flacco said the hurry-up can get the defense into some basic calls because they have to get lined up so much faster. It also means you can trap certain personnel on the field since the defense can’t substitute.

But it’s also a two-way street.

“They can always mess with you too,” Flacco said. “You can be out there redirecting, pointing this way and they could completely change what they do on you. That’s why you have to have a good balance of slowing things down and quick counting, so they can’t really get a read on you.”

The Ravens are getting a good read on whether their new-look offense will function properly once the regular season rolls around. He’s happy that the other players know what he means when making certain gestures and calls at the line of scrimmage.

“It’s good cause all the stuff we’re doing is making sense and we’re all getting it and we’re all still able to operate at full speed,” Flacco said.

Some other offenses that run a lot of no-huddle ask for total silence from the crowd, enabling them to communicate the calls easier.

Flacco, however, isn’t expecting complete crowd silence during his orchestra of calls. He certainly won’t get it on the road, and still expects to run that offense then. So why should he need it at home?

“Some guys get their fans trained to be completely quiet,” Flacco said. “But it’s always nice to have a little crowd noise. It just shows that they’re into it and passionate about what you’re doing. I don’t mind that.”

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