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Late For Work 11/2: Is Joe Flacco Audibling Out Of Ray Rice Run Plays?

Posted Nov 2, 2012

PHOTO: Uncharacteristic Flacco. Reid set to play LG Sunday. No trade for McKinnie. Picks.


Is Flacco Audibling Out Of Rice Run Plays?

It’s no secret that fans and media have criticized Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron for not running the ball with Ray Rice more.

After listening to Cameron talk about wanting to get the ball into his playmaker’s hands, CBSSports.com’s Jason Butt poses a different possible explanation for Rice getting fewer carries, particularly in Houston when he rushed just nine times.

“Flacco has assumed more responsibility at the line of scrimmage when it comes to checking out of plays based on what he reads,” wrote Butt.

“Could Flacco be changing plays to benefit him more as a passer? Until Cameron's comments Thursday, that question hadn't been posed. With the no-huddle having issues on the road, this might be another thing to be concerned about in Baltimore.”

Butt’s question is legitimate, although I would tweak it. To me the question is: Is Flacco changing out of run plays because he thinks it will work better against the defensive scheme he sees at the line? Flacco certainly isn’t the type to make changes to only benefit himself.  He can and should make changes at the line if he believes the opposing defense will stop the original play.

While Cameron underscored the importance of Flacco’s freedom to run the audible system in a rowdy stadium, he made it clear that the audibles can’t take Rice, one of his top playmakers, out of the mix.

"We've had some situations where the score dictated that the bottom line is we're going to have to throw it to (Rice) more than we hand it to him," Cameron said. "No. 1, let's not be in that situation anymore, and let's make sure that we don't let our audible system take the ball out his hands.”

When talking about how to solve the offensive issues on the road, the Ravens all pointed to one common theme: communication in a noisy environment. Both Rice and Cameron talked about the offensive players getting on the same page on the road.

"I think it's common knowledge all the leeway that Joe has at the line of scrimmage now," Cameron said. "Everybody knows the options that he has. The one thing that we're not as good at on the road as we are at home is being on the same page. It might be any combination – it could be in the passing game, it could be in protection, it could be in the run game.

"So we're looking at everything from a communication standpoint. How we can make sure, on the road, that we're on the same page. Does that mean we aren't going to audible? Not at all. That's a huge part of what we do. But I think getting on the same page is the first thing we have to do."

Flacco In Uncharacteristic Pose

While we’re talking about Flacco ….

My husband and I went shopping this weekend to prepare for our third child (our first girl), and after watching me pick out four (adorable) dresses, he accused me of wanting make our baby my personal doll to play dress up.

That’s exactly what I thought of when I saw Terrell Suggs post this picture of Flacco on Twitter yesterday.

“That's My Teammate! That's My Quarterback!!!” Sizzle tweeted with this uncharacteristic photo of Flacco. 

That “reckless” hat and shirt doesn’t seem to fit Flacco’s ordinary wardrobe and I’ve never seen him pose like that. So either Suggs is playing dress up with his quarterback, or it’s a late Halloween costume. Anyone have another theory?

By the way, Michael Oher is in the background with a facial expression that seems to say he is not in favor of the new “reckless” Flacco.

Signs Point To Reid Playing At LG Sunday

Offensive lineman Jah Reid is finally healthy, and signs point to him playing at left guard for the first time this season when the Ravens clash with the Browns Sunday.

“The former third-round draft pick has been practicing regularly at left guard this week and is preparing to potentially rotate in behind veteran starter Bobbie Williams on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “It's unclear how much playing time that would entail for Reid, though.”

Reid has been working through a strained calf, and if he is activated Sunday, it will be for the first time this season.  And if he rotates with Williams, it will be the third player working at the position this year, also including Ramon Harewood.

"To feel healthy and get on the field, it's great and I'm excited,” Reid told reporters yesterday. "My leg feels good, it feels 100 percent. I think I'll be fine. I've practiced quite a bit and I'm ready to get on the field and do my job.

"I've been working all this time that I've been out. I like playing guard. You're close to the center, you hear the calls and you get to go up against the bigger guys."

It doesn’t appear that Reid will get the start, but instead work in a rotation with Williams. The 12-year veteran said he is fine splitting the role with Reid if that’s what the coaches deem best. After watching Reid practice, Williams thinks his younger teammate is ready to go.

"Yeah, Jah was hurt and they got him out there now," Williams said. "He's getting a chance to go in and he's going hard and going fast."

Week 9 Picks: Ravens vs. Browns

A majority of analysts are picking a Ravens win, but many were tempted to pick an upset.

A few did.

Chris Mortensen, Mike Ditka, Peter Schrager and Pete Prisco think the Browns will pull off the upset, pointing to an improved Browns defense and running back Trent Richardson as the keys to the game.

If Cleveland does pull off a win, a fan asked ESPN’s Jamison Hensley if it would be the biggest upset of the season.

“The last time I checked the Ravens were only a 3.5-point favorite,” the AFC North blogger replied. “So, I wouldn't classify that as much of an upset. The only reason it would feel that way is the fact that Harbaugh and Flacco have never lost to the Browns. It would be more of a statement by the Browns than an upset.”

ESPN.com: 10 of 12 pick Ravens

Yahoo! Sports: 3 of 3 pick Ravens

SportingNews.com (Vinnie Iyer): Ravens 26, Browns 17
“The Ravens need to be careful with their injury-riddled defense after a bye, as the young Browns are confident after winning two of three. Though Cleveland will try to make this game about Trent Richardson, Baltimore needs to unleash Ray Rice—who rushed for 204 yards at the Dawg Pound last season—to take care of business.”

FoxSports.com (Peter Schrager): Browns 24, Ravens 20
“My big upset special of the week! The script last week for San Diego-Cleveland was the following: ‘Bad loss, but they’ve had a bye week to prepare and a trip to Cleveland where they can right themselves.’ Sure enough, the Browns didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet and have some cookies and milk waiting. Cleveland is tough as nails. They’re a 2-6 team, but they’ve lost only one of those games by more than two scores. They played Baltimore tough in Week 4 and they’ll play them tough in their own building on Sunday. Trent Richardson can run all over this beleaguered Ravens D. Give me the Browns.”

CBSSports.com (Pete Prisco): Browns 21, Ravens 20
“This is a be-careful game for the Ravens. They are coming off a bye, so they should be rested. But that defense has really struggled. The Browns are getting better and they have improved on defense. I look for the Browns to pull off the upset against a Ravens team that is struggling.”

SI.com (Peter King): Ravens 23, Browns 20
“Why is this closer than you think? Because I don't know which Joe Flacco is going to show up. And because of Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon ... and the Baltimore secondary. The rookie Gordon's average catch is impressive – 22.3 yards.”

ProFootballTalk.com (Mike Florio): Ravens 20, Browns 14
“Cleveland’s old team returns to town, nearly 17 years to the day after Cleveland’s old team declared its intention to leave.  The Browns will make it interesting, but the Ravens know they need to step it up now in order to hold off the Steelers, who are making their move and who face the Ravens twice in three weeks, starting later this month.”

ProFootballTalk.com (Michael David Smith): Ravens 23, Browns 21
“I’m tempted to pick the upset here, as the Ravens have struggled to put teams away while the Browns have played competitive football even in defeat. But while the Browns will keep this one close, the Ravens will manage to hold them off.”

Trade Deadline Passes, No Move For McKinnie

Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported that the Arizona Cardinals had interest in trading for Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie. The columnist wrote that the Cards wanted to shore up their offensive line after a 4-4 start.

But the Thursday 4 p.m. deadline came and went, and nothing happened.

Early Thursday morning, Wilson tweeted that the move was unlikely.

“Hearing the Cardinals don't have interest in trading for Bryant McKinnie, move unlikely,” he wrote.

Schefter Names Ravens As Potential Suitor For Steelers’ Wallace

ESPN’s Adam Schefter named the Ravens as a potential suitor for Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace if he leaves Pittsburgh after this season.

But the NFL Insider also named the rest of the AFC North and a host of other teams including the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers as potential suitors.

“The bottom line is that Wallace would make any team in the league better,” Schefter wrote. “The better question is: What teams would be willing to dole out all the money it's going to take to get him? I think the team that does is one mentioned above.”

The Ravens will still have their top two starting receivers under contract next season.                                    

Speaking about the possibility of Wallace coming to Baltimore, Hensley wrote: “The Ravens have a young playmaker in Torrey Smith, but they have to decide whether to pay Anquan Boldin $6 million in the final year of his deal.”

Quick Hits

  • Suggs tried to classify the loss of Ray Lewis: “There's no word, really, in the English dictionary that can describe how important this man is to this team and this city. Losing him was catastrophic, and it's going to be hard to fill that void." [NFL Network]
  • All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata missed practice Thursday after participating on a limited basis Wednesday. Will he return today? [ESPN]
  • The Ravens once accidentally sent a playbook to a professor named Dennis Pitta. “I promise not to sell them to the Steelers,” the professor wrote to the Ravens when he emailed to explain the mistake. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith acknowledged he must do a better job defending receivers on double moves, saying he’s “just trying to stay disciplined.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees was brutally honest about his defense Thursday. [CBSSports.com]
  • The Steelers now have to fly in and out of New York the day of the game … @edbouchette: #Steelers were to stay at Westin in Jersey City but that hotel still has no power. Up and back, no hotel. [Twitter]

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