Late for Work 4/30: Overblown Reaction to Joe Flacco Tweet Is Stupid; Ravens Draft Grades


Overblown Reaction to Joe Flacco Tweet Is Stupid

I’m just gonna say it. The overreaction to one line from quarterback Joe Flacco declining to talk about the Ravens drafting Lamar Jackson is stupid.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course* *everyone wants to hear Flacco’s thoughts and that’s more than fair. One way or another, drafting a first-round signal caller has potentially massive ramifications for the franchise quarterback of the last decade and Super Bowl XLVII MVP.

But overreacting to one tweet with zero context pushes a pre-determined media-devised narrative without allowing Flacco to articulate for himself how he feels … at the appropriate time.

Gasp!

Flacco must be SEETHING that General Manager Ozzie Newsome had the audacity to draft another quarterback. How dare he? And now Flacco won’t even face the music to talk about it!

Joe Flacco's silence speaks volumes at Ravens' DraftFest,” a Baltimore Sun headline read.

“Now, it would be irresponsible to add more importance to those six words than they carry on their own,” added ProFootballTalk.com’s Darrin Gantt. “It would also be irresponsible to assume they mean nothing. They exist on their own. A newsworthy thing happened to the team Flacco’s a member of. He didn’t want to talk about it.”

Actually, that’s an assumption. Flacco may have been perfectly happy to talk about it. The Sun’s Peter Schmuck gave more context to the situation that few media members picked up on.

“Flacco, 33, was hustled away from a pair of reporters, from The Baltimore Sun and ESPN, after his Q&A with the kids and said only, ‘I don’t believe I’m talking today.’

“Funny, that’s what team officials said earlier in the day, and — since Flacco has never been in the habit of dodging the media — it’s fair to conclude it was an organizational decision to create a human shield to keep inquiring minds from asking how he felt about the team’s maneuvering to get exciting college quarterback Lamar Jackson with the final pick of the first round.”

While I wasn’t at the DraftFest Saturday, I’ve been at plenty of these types of events in the past. It’s a big deal for a marketing team to get high-profile players to attend, so their time is scheduled down to the minute to maximize their participation. Flacco agreed to go to DraftFest long before the team’s decision to select Jackson.

Ravens beat reporters have rarely attended the Ravens draft parties in the past (if ever?). They typically stay at the Under Armour Performance Center to cover who the team is picking. Some journalists broke the mold this weekend, which is perfectly fine. They’re trying to get reaction to national news. That’s their job.

That said, DraftFest was not intended to be a media event; it’s a fan event and time wasn’t carved out to speak to reporters. Flacco participated in a kids Q&A, he spent significant time signing autographs, he posed for pictures. He was all smiles.

“Why are we talking about this?” an annoyed Mike Mayock asked when the tweet was brought up on-air during the NFL Network’s coverage of the seventh round (see video below). “He doesn’t have to make a quote there. …. He doesn’t have to respond to this.”

Rich Eisen said Flacco’s non-response could be interpreted as him being “pissed off.”

“That’s a good thing, OK,” Mayock replied. “Go work out and get ready because he’s been underproductive since the Super Bowl. I’m not trying to defend him as far as his play. I’m just trying to say that we typically in the media make stories out of nothing. Give the guy a day.”

And that’s what this boils down to. Timing.

Flacco’s response wasn’t on the media’s timetable, so now a narrative is developing for him.

But ask reporters which Ravens players they can count to give honest answers after a tough loss. Flacco will be near or at the top of the list. He doesn’t duck questions. He’ll talk about Jackson.

Just don’t be surprised if he gives a “Joe Cool” answer that isn’t very juicy once he is scheduled to speak. He could very well give a similar response to the one he gave when he was asked a little more than a week before the draft about rumors that the team could select a first-round quarterback.

“It is what it is. It’s a business,” Flacco said. “Eventually, at some point, that’s going to have to happen. It’s not really for me to worry about. I come in here and you worry about what’s here and now, and doing your job – which is for me right now, getting guys out there working hard and making sure we’re moving towards our goal of getting to that championship.”

Ravens Draft Grades From Around the Web

Let’s take a look at draft grades given to the Ravens after their franchise-tying 12-pick haul this weekend.

CBS Sports, Pete Prisco: A* *“The Ravens had two trade downs to pick up a bunch of extra picks, which really helped make their draft. They took tight end Hayden Hurst with their first-round pick, and he will be an immediate impact player. They then traded back into the first round to take quarterback Lamar Jackson. He will be their quarterback of the future. I liked the pick of Orlando Brown Jr. in the third round, but I am not as sold on tight end Mark Andrews, their other third-round pick, as others. Keep an eye on fourth-round receiver Jaleel Scott. He should contribute as a rookie. Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta had another good draft.”

The Baltimore Sun, Childs Walker: A-minus* *“Ozzie Newsome deserves a high grade for his final draft, both because he added quality depth at many positions of need and because he made a bold move to acquire Lamar Jackson, who could be transformational. Considering the Ravens started in a so-so position, with the 16th pick and eight picks overall, that's impressive.”

Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer: A-minus
“Ozzie Newsome's swan song saw the Ravens draft the Hall of Famer's former position twice, first Hurst and then Andrews. Their Jackson action for the near future put a stamp on everything, and the Brown pick is more than a feel-good story — he has a chance to start immediately at right tackle. Not surprisingly, there was a Crimson Tide, Sooner and Bruin tinge to the class, too. Scott and Lasley add to the extreme offense makeover at wide receiver. Versatility and volume will be the legacy of Newsome's draft history.”

ESPN, Mel Kiper: B-plus* *“There's no question the Ravens have disappointed lately. They haven't made the playoffs the past three seasons. The offense and Joe Flacco have taken a step back. So GM Ozzie Newsome, in his last draft in charge, is shaking things up, putting the 33-year-old Flacco on notice. Baltimore traded up into the last pick of the first round -- at a big price, surrendering next year's second-round pick, plus picks Nos. 52 and 125 -- to get Lamar Jackson. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is the rawest of the top quarterbacks in this class, but he's an electric talent. And with Flacco there and under contract for the short term, Jackson doesn't need to play right away. He can learn the game and keep developing until he's ready. It's a good spot for Jackson.”

The Baltimore Sun, Jeff Zrebec: B* *“General manager Ozzie Newsome said it best Saturday when he acknowledged that he won't be able to properly evaluate his final draft class for another two years. In reality, if Lamar Jackson becomes a star, this year's draft will be a success regardless of what becomes of the rest of the class. That speaks to the importance of the quarterback position. Otherwise, I think Newsome and the front office deserve some credit here. They were aggressive in going up and getting Jackson and smart to move back in the first round twice to pick up the inventory needed to get another first-rounder while still getting the guy they coveted in Hayden Hurst. They addressed just about every need other than a pass-catching running back and they added depth at a few positions where they've been vulnerable to injuries — tight end and cornerback. It would have been nice for them to get one of the draft's top receivers and a little more of a surer thing at right tackle than Orlando Brown Jr. However, they got both quality and quantity with this class.”

Yahoo! Sports, Frank Schwab: C
“Tight end Hayden Hurst was a need pick, and not an inspiring one. It made less sense when the Ravens doubled down with tight end Mark Andrews in the third. If Orlando Brown plays like he did in college he’s a good value acquisition in the third, but his lack of athleticism (he had a historically bad combine) is concerning. Cornerback Anthony Averett was a solid find in the fourth. But the most interesting piece of the draft class is clearly quarterback Lamar Jackson. If he’s used right, Ozzie Newsome’s last first-round pick as GM will be a huge part of his Ravens legacy.”

Reaction to Ozzie Newsome’s Emotional Final Pick of His 22-Year Career

You may not be human if you don’t get a lil’ choked up watching Newsome talk to the final draft selection of his Hall of Fame-worthy general manager career.

Once he put down the phone after speaking with the 238th selection of the draft, Ferris State defensive lineman Zack Sieler, the jam-packed draft room gave the great Wizard of Oz a standing ovation.

Hugs followed, and the embrace between Newsome and future Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta was emotional and heartfelt.

We posted the video on Twitter, and below is media reaction:

Ravens Reportedly Thought About Taking Jackson at No. 16; Eagles Explain Their Side of the Trade

Baltimore considered taking Jackson with its 16th-overall pick, according to ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio.

But the team opted instead to trade back twice, still pick up Jackson at No. 32 and got the draft’s consensus top tight end, Hayden Hurst, in the process (No. 25).

“So the Ravens turned their first-round pick in 2018, their second-round selections in 2018 and 2019, and a seven-spot slide in round four into Hurst and Jackson, along with turning a fifth-round pick into a third-round pick, a sixth-round pick into a fourth-round pick,” wrote Florio.

“In the end, that’s a better net haul than simply taking Jackson at No. 16. And it’s a great way for Newsome to put the icing on a career that would earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame if he hadn’t already gotten there as a player. That icing will be a lot sweeter if Jackson becomes the kind of player for the Ravens that he was in college.”

Jackson may never have fallen in the Ravens’ lap had the Philadelphia Eagles not been willing to give up their only first-round pick of the 2018 draft. The Eagles had plenty of interest in that 32nd pick, as it’s the last one that allows teams to exercise a fifth-year option on rookie contracts.

“Our balance was the short term vs. the long term on the trade offers,” Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman said, via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “And we decided that it’s just too hard to get a second-round pick. When we look at the draft, the difference in value when you’re picking in the second round vs. even when you’re picking in the third round.

“It’s too good. It gives you a lot of flexibility. … We had a group of guys at 32 that we would have been really excited about picking. Will they be there at 52? I don’t know. But that helped us make the trade because we felt like there was a cluster of guys grouped together for us.”

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