Flacco No Stranger To Never-Ending Revolving Cast
Much attention has been paid to the Ravens' offensive coordinator turnover, and how quarterback Joe Flacco simply rolls with each new personality and style. He seems to have mastered the transition. After all, he's had four new coordinators in as many years.
But what about the seemingly endless revolving door with Flacco's targets?
CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora has picked up on the re-occurring pattern.
"Since his appointment as the Ravens' starting quarterback in 2008, after being selected in the first round out of Delaware, it's become fairly common practice for his favored receiver to be out of the offense a year or two after assuming that mantle," La Canfora wrote.
- Derrick Mason:Leading receiver in 2008-09 (1,000-plus yards each season); gone by 2011.
- Anquan Boldin: Leading receiver in 2010-12 (never topped 1,000 yards); gone by 2013
- Torrey Smith: Leading receiver in 2013 (1,128 yards); gone by 2015
- Steve Smith Sr.: Leading receiver in 2014 (1,065 yards); will he retire before 2016?
A similar trend has developed at the tight end position recently, especially after the Todd Heap years.
- Todd Heap: Leading tight end 2008-10; gone by 2011
- Ed Dickson: Leading tight end in 2011; lost role in 2012
- Dennis Pitta: Leading tight end in 2012, injured in 2013-14
- Dallas Clark: leading tight end in 2013; retired by 2014
- Owen Daniels: leading tight end in 2014; gone by 2015
Both Flacco and Head Coach John Harbaugh downplayed the turnover when speaking with reporters Thursday. They point out that every team in the NFL goes through similar transition. That may be true, but Flacco's success, especially in the postseason, is impressive when comparing him to other quarterbacks' supporting receiving casts.
Only three receivers have had 1,000-yard years during Flacco's tenure. Only once has the same target led the team in receiving touchdowns in consecutive years.
"The talent around him has never been close to the level that contemporaries like Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford or Andy Dalton might take for granted," wrote La Canfora. "Comparing him to guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, and the bounty of options at their behest, isn't fair."
But through it all, guess who keeps leading his team to the postseason? Guess who has won at least one playoff win each time he advances?
"Flacco has remained unflappable – it takes quite a bit to get him rattled or upset – and become the greatest quarterback in Baltimore's long NFL history since Johnny Unitas, without question," La Canfora wrote.
"He has become one of the greatest playoff quarterbacks of this, or any, generation, winning games (road games in particular) and protecting the football to a degree few in the history of the game have achieved. He has gone from someone who needed training wheels and oodles of talent around him (in the run and passing game) since making the jump from the NCAA FCS ranks to someone who now is charged with elevating the play of everyone around him."
So once again, as he prepares for the 2015 season, Flacco is nearly starting from scratch again. He'll have Smith Sr. back, but there will be a big competition behind him between Breshad Perriman, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken. Flacco might have another new No. 1 tight end in Maxx Williams if Dennis Pitta is a no-go.
It's on Flacco to develop all these young and inexperienced weapons, while helping 36-year-old Smith to another strong season after 15 years of wear and tear. And you can bet the expectations will be the same despite the all new coaches and targets.
"It could be a tall task, but then again not one foreign to Flacco," wrote La Canfora.
"Now more than ever – with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed even further removed from their reign in the Ravens' locker room and with old heads like Terrell Suggs possibly in their final season here – this is Flacco's team, Flacco's franchise."
Suggs Responds To Patriots' DeflateGate Punishment
It's no secret how Terrell Suggs feels about the New England Patriots. Let's just say he has a strong dislike for the rivals up north.
Suggs won't refer to Tom Brady by name, but called the quarterback's first three championships "questionable." He openly believes Brady and the Patriots have received preferential treatment by the league.
But what about now? After Ted Well's investigation into the Patriots' connection with DeflateGate, the team was fined $1 million dollars and stripped of two draft picks. Brady was suspended four games.
TMZ caught up with Suggs as he was leaving a Beverly Hill steakhouse to ask him if the punishment fit the crime.
"I don't know," Suggs said. "That's not my job. I'm glad I don't got it … but the last coach that got caught cheating got suspended for a whole year. So …"
His response was pretty tame … for Suggs. But he did indicate Head Coach Bill Belichick got off easy compared to New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who was implicated in BountyGate in 2012.
"Terrell Suggs hates the New England Patriots, so I expected him to bury Tom Brady and company when answering questions," wrote BlackSportsOnline.com's Glenn Erby. "'T-Sizzle' sort of took the high-road."
Watch the video below. (Mobile users tap "View in Browser" to watch the video.)
Ravens Productions Gets Two Emmy Nominations
Congratulations to our Ravens Productions team, who came home with two nominations Thursday night from the 2014 regional Emmy Awards. Both nominations came in the Sports Program Feature/Segment category.
The Ravens' broadcasting team was recognized for the "Immortalizing a Legend" piece, which featured the creation of future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis' statue now standing outside M&T Bank Stadium.
The hilariously funny "Ravens 2014 Christmas Album" was also honored. Several Ravens players participated in a fake album of the "greatest collection of Ravens Christmas classics that have ever been assembled."
"We're proud and grateful to be recognized for our work, and thankful to work for an organization that has made high-quality content for our fans a priority," said Director of Broadcasting & Gameday Productions Jay O'Brien.
Both pieces can be found below. Even as summer arrives, the Christmas album is worth another listen.
Winners of each category will be announced June 27. Good luck to my colleagues, including O'Brien, Matt Brevet (Broadcasting Manager), Eddie Coughlan (Production Manager) and Phil Cunningham (Digital Media Production Coordinator).