Uni Watch: Ravens One Of Worst-Dressed Teams
Get ready for a collective gag reflex across Ravens Nation.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the best-dressed team in the NFL and the Ravens remain one of the worst dressed, according to ESPN's Uni Watch power rankings.
Baltimore is ranked No. 23 of 32 teams for their five uniform combinations, which is one step up from last year, passing the Washington Redskins and their controversial team name and logo.
"If you're a uniform nut—like me—you'll enjoy ESPN's uni rankings. I disagree w/ Steelers as #1. What do you think?" tweeted WBAL's Gerry Sandusky.
While the players love the intimidating alternate blackout look, the gripe from Uni Watch is that the Ravens overuse black in three of the five combinations. They say the pant/sock combination creates the look of a leotard.
"OK, we get it – ravens are black, so this is the rare team whose use of black doesn't feel gratuitous," wrote Uni Watch judge Paul Lukas. "But that doesn't mean they couldn't scale it back a little. The black pants could use some stripes, and they'd be better if they were paired with non-black socks (which the team used to have, once upon a time) to avoid the leotard effect."
Does Lukas like anything about the Ravens uniforms?
"On the plus side, here's a detail worth noting: The gold trim on the numbers is a really nice accent," he wrote.
Take Uni Watch's opinion for what it's worth. The reason the Steelers were boosted to the top spot was because of the bumblebee throwback uniforms, which I personally cannot stand.
Of all of the Ravens' combinations, I agree with the players who like the blackout look, but my favorite is the traditional home design with the purple jersey and white pants.
Flacco Considerably Better When Protected
Perhaps the single most important key to success for the Ravens offense this season will be protecting quarterback Joe Flacco.
That's because statistics show he is considerably better with no pressure in his face. One might think that is true of any quarterback, but for Flacco the difference in play is staggering.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) is conducting a "QBs in Focus" analysis where they look at quarterbacks under various metrics, and the first installment looks at how quarterbacks perform with and without pressure.
When Flacco is feeling the heat, he is one of the worst-graded quarterbacks in the league at minus-2.9. That ranks No. 27 among 37 qualifying quarterbacks with at least 200 drop-backs in 2014.
But when Flacco has a clean pocket, he launches all the way up to No. 7 with a plus-14.3 grade. That's a 20-spot jump in the rankings, and only the Giants' Eli Manning had a bigger improvement, jumping up 28 spots.
The good news is the Ravens have one of the best offensive lines returning in 2015 with no changes at any position. They were able to keep Flacco under the NFL average of quarterback pressures. NFL quarterbacks on average face pressure 33.4 percent of the time, while Flacco faced it on 33.2 percent of his drop-backs.
But equally important is Flacco's ability to get rid of the ball quickly, which also relies on receivers quickly getting separation. For context, the quarterbacks that faced the most pressure tend to hold onto the ball the longest (Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson) while those that faced the least tended to get rid of the ball quickly (Peyton Manning and Andy Dalton).
Below are the PFF rankings:
Charges Dismissed Against Ray Rice
A New Jersey judge dismissed domestic violence charges against Ray Rice on Thursday after the former NFL running back completed his pretrial intervention program, according to multiple media outlets.
"I was just presented with a dismissal order from Prosecutor James] McClain – which means that Ray Rice has successfully completed all of his terms and conditions of his PTI – therefore based on the Prosecutors recommendation [I will be signing Mr. Rice's dismissal of his case today," Judge Michael Donio wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.
Under terms of the pretrial program, Rice paid $125 in fines and received anger management counseling for one year. Rice was already reinstated in the NFL in December after a neutral arbitrator overturned his suspension on appeal.
An NFL team will have to sign him in order to officially resume his NFL career. ESPN's John Clayton sees five teams as possible landing spots for Rice: Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
- The Ravens received a B-minus for their offseason work in addressing their needs. This grade was given by ESPN's Mike Sando after consulting with several analysts. Colleague Jamison Hensley felt the grade was too low. "I would have leaned toward a B or B-plus, but that could be because I'm grading more on a curve. With limited cap room and drafting near the bottom of every round, the Ravens were able to add a playmaking wide receiver (Breshad Perriman), the top tight end in the draft (Maxx Williams), a much-needed center-fielder at safety (Kendrick Lewis) and a valuable nickelback (Kyle Arrington). Plus, Baltimore re-signed starting running back Justin Forsett to a team-friendly deal and reached a contract extension with No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith." [ESPN]
- Very cool Ed Reed retirement tribute. [YouTube]