Eisenberg: Flacco Delivers Mission Statement


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While doing what they were supposed to do against a winless St. Louis team likely going nowhere in 2011, did the Ravens unveil their offense of the future?

Flacco is certainly onto something with his comments about the NFL becoming a passing league. Everyone knows it has been trending that way, but the number of 300-yard passing games is skyrocketing in 2011. There have already been 34 across the league in the first three weeks, easily surpassing the previous high total of 21.

With that in mind, the Ravens almost have to develop more of a pass-first mindset in the mold of the Packers, Saints and other top contenders. Flacco's critics will say he isn't ready, but if they don't start throwing it more, they run the risk of becoming a tortoise among hares.

The problem, of course, is they have always been a pounding, run-first team, and when their ground game declined in 2010, they stated that fixing it was their No. 1 priority for 2011. You don't re-sign Marshal Yanda and bring in Vonta Leach, Bryant McKinnie, Andre Gurode and Ricky Williams strictly to bolster your pass protection.

The Ravens may not have needed to run to blow out a St. Louis team with a depleted secondary, but they're going to need to run it against other opponents, starting with the New York Jets Sunday night.

"They have great corners," Raven Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

They also gave up 234 rushing yards in a loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, which certainly sounds like a clarion call for Ray Rice.

Harbaugh smiled Monday when asked about the aggressive mission statement his quarterback delivered Sunday.

"Would you want your quarterback not saying that? He probably wants to throw every single time. That's what you expect from your quarterback," Harbaugh said.

But the coach added, "He's right about the fact that you have to go after people whatever way you go after them. You've got to be able to attack people in every kind of different way ... That's not to say we're not going to run the ball, too. We pride ourselves on that. You have to be able to do everything well."

It seems this is what the news business calls a "developing" situation, still fluid. Given their longstanding focus on physical play and running the ball, it is doubtful the Ravens will ever become quite as pass happy as the Packers or Saints. But they're certainly moving in that direction, and Flacco is urging them on.

His mission statement was "stuff he expressed to me coming into the game," Harbaugh said. "We all agree with that. I agree with that. Cam agrees with that that.

"He's our quarterback. He has an impact on how we think. He should."

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

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