Flacco Struggling to Find Targets

00b4eb79619e4827bdcb2ab218771bb4.jpg


Quarterback Joe Flacco threw 35 passes in the Ravens' 17-15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

And while he completed 65.7 percent of his attempts (23), further digging into his performance reveals what could be a troubling statistic.

According to the NFL's official statistics book, Flacco targeted wideout Derrick Mason and running back Ray Rice 26 times out of 34 tries (one ball was spiked). The target stat can be misleading. It may count a targeted player that is simply in the vicinity of a pass and fails to account for a defender making a play.

But considering Todd Heap and Mark Clayton got the second-most looks with only two, the disparity in focus is glaring.

Despite the lopsided stats, head coach John Harbaugh is not concerned with a lack of distribution among the Ravens' other receivers.

"I think he's got a comfort level with those guys," said Harbaugh. "If you look throughout the season, he's hit those guys on a lot of plays. Todd has been hitting some big plays, obviously, Kelley [Washington] – Mark Clayton earlier in the year."

Delving further into the numbers, it is evident that less players have been involved in the offense recently.

Clayton has only two receptions in the past three games, as does Washington. Heap has been solid, but he came out of the Indianapolis contest with only two grabs for 15 yards.

And, backups L.J. Smith and Demetrius Williams have only begun to see playing time.

Over Flacco's 219 completions all season, Rice and Mason own 101 of them, which is nearly half.

Coming off their heavy workload against the Colts, could teams begin rolling their secondaries in Mason and Rice's direction?

"People tilt their coverages different ways, but we had Derrick wide open in that last drive," Harbaugh said of Baltimore's defeat. "So, I'm pretty sure they weren't tilting their coverages to Derrick. We got him open on two double-move five routes, and so they weren't tilting their coverages to him then. I think Ray got loose a couple of times in the last drive, and they ended up stopping our other backs.

"I don't think that's the case right now, and I think we have plenty of weapons to go to."

Flacco offered one argument against that logic with a fourth-quarter interception he threw to Colts linebacker Gary Brackett that essentially killed any comeback bid.

The second-year signal-caller faced a third-and-7 situation on the Indianapolis 14-yard line. With 2:49 remaining and a two-point deficit, Flacco dropped back and zeroed in on Rice coming out of the backfield.

Both Brackett and fellow linebacker Clint Sessions took two steps as if to rush the pocket, but backed away quickly in coverage. Flacco's short throw over the middle to a slanting Rice was easily picked off.

"We saw that play earlier in the game, when they feature Ray Rice coming out the back field, so it's something we were just conscious of," said Brackett. "Put it in the back of your head. We knew they would come back to that in the same situation."

Flacco, who had been on the injury report with foot and knee injuries during the season, was kicking himself afterwards.

"It was a bad job going to Ray in that situation, but I didn't see the guy," Flacco explained. "That's a big play right there. We were in field goal range already, and we wanted to convert on third down, but at the same time, we've got to hold on to the ball, and score some points to take the lead. I did a bad job of doing that."

The Ravens have been prolific on offense at times this year, so it's certainly possible to incorporate more weapons into their attack.

Even though that hasn't occurred lately, it likely will in the future.

"Different plays, different guys are open, and in different situations they're not open," Harbaugh said. "Every play stands on its own, and we've studied those with Joe. So, we're going to try to get the ball to everybody."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising