Three Reasons Why Joe Flacco Will Throw For 4,000 Yards
For eight seasons we have talked about the possibility of quarterback Joe Flacco breaking the 4,000-yard passing mark. And for eight seasons, the milestone has eluded him.
You know what they say: ninth time's a charm (or something like that).
While reaching the 4,000-yard landmark doesn't necessarily translate to wins – the Ravens offense has historically been at its best when balanced with a strong running game – Flacco has been oh-so-close before.
He fell short by 88 yards in 2013 and a measly 14 yards in 2014. The franchise quarterback was also on pace to exceed the mark last year before a season-ending injury in Week 11.
Despite potential rust from that injury, CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown believes Flacco will finally break the 4,000-yard barrier in 2016 for three reasons:
1. The time Flacco misses during OTA's won't matter
The Ravens added several weapons this offseason, including veterans Mike Wallace and Benjamin Watson and rookies Chris Moore (fourth round) and Keenan Reynolds (sixth round). Plus, Breshad Perriman is back on the field after his own knee injury last year. It'd be nice if Flacco could throw to his new targets over the next couple of weeks, but he's expected back in training camp, and Brown believes that's plenty of time to gel. Heck, Flacco said the same thing last month.
"At the end of the day, training camp is going to be enough time," he said. "You want to throw to them at some point and you want to get a feel for these guys. It's not necessarily I need to throw to them, but I need to see how they run routes … and throw a couple of go-routes and see how far I can let it go."
While he isn't participating, Flacco has been at Organized Team Activities (OTAs) to at least study and watch his receivers in action. Doesn't he look happy with what he's seen?
2. Having the same coordinator should help the offense evolve
This is another reason why missing OTAs isn't as big a deal for Flacco. He FINALLY has some continuity with his offensive coordinator. For the first time since 2011-12, Flacco will have the same coordinator in back-to-back years.
"The switch from Gary Kubiak to Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator was an adjustment last year, and there were some growing pains," Brown wrote. "Trestman and Flacco will begin the 2016 season with a comfort level they didn't have last season. While the Ravens are committed to improving their running game, Trestman is not shy about throwing the football. Twelve quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards last season. I think Flacco will join that list in 2016."
3. The Ravens' passing attack should be more explosive
On Tuesday, I talked about how the Ravens could have the most offensive weapons in team history … if they all stay healthy. There's Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Perriman, Wallace, Moore and others at receiver. Tight end is stacked with Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and maybe even Dennis Pitta. The running back corps boasts receiving threats out of the backfield, including rookie Kenneth Dixon.
"Last season, the Ravens were forced to be methodical, and Flacco's ability to throw deep was often wasted," Brown wrote. "Now he has more legitimate deep weapons."
Under-The-Radar Ravens As OTAs Begin
We know all eyes will be on Perriman, Pitta and the newcomers as the practice doors open to media today. But the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says there are several other players flying under the news media's radar that also need to have a strong summer.
Jeremy Butler: "Teammates rave about Butler. … I've said several times it would be foolish to dismiss his roster chances, even with the glut of wide receivers on the Ravens' roster. But he'll certainly need a strong summer to stick, and he's capable of that."
Carl Davis: "During the various minicamps and even in training camp last year, Davis was probably the Ravens' most impressive rookie. However, he appeared to hit the wall last year and found his way out of the team's defensive line rotation. There are snaps available along the Ravens' defensive line, but Davis, a third-round pick last year, is going to have to outplay rookie Willie Henry and others this summer."
Brent Urban: "Number one, the Ravens need Urban to make it through a summer healthy. Beyond that, Urban, after two injury-plagued years, will need to be a pass-rushing presence. With the underrated Lawrence Guy and rookie third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi on the roster, Urban's early form is noteworthy."
Maxx Williams: "Benjamin Watson is the new addition, Crockett Gillmore is the presumed starter, and Pitta is the popular veteran looking to complete what would be an uplifting comeback. Williams, a little more than a year after the Ravens traded up in the second round to get him, has become a forgotten man of sorts. But he can change that real [quickly] by building off the solid finish to his rookie year."
Ravens Should Know NFL Ruling Soon
Now that the owners meetings have concluded in Charlotte, N.C., the league should be able to wrap up its investigation of the Ravens' reported admission to a practice violation in rookie minicamp.
That means the team should find out "soon" whether any OTA practices will be cancelled after wearing prohibited full pads during a five-minute portion of practice last week, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Once Baltimore learns of any punishment, it can make plans for the remaining OTA schedule. If the team is stripped of two mandatory minicamp practice sessions – like the Seattle Seahawks were two years ago – the planning is mostly done for them, as there are only three in total. But if the league takes away three OTA practices, then Head Coach John Harbaugh can either scrap the final week or choose to cancel one or two practices in each of the final two weeks.
However it works out, the Ravens will want to know the league's ruling sooner than later.
Battle Of The Birds
I don't even know what to say about this string of tweets between the Ravens, Falcons, Eagles, Cardinals and Seahawks … other than … it's the offseason. So, enjoy.