Reaction and Details Behind NFL's Discipline of Ravens
The media was scheduled to watch the final open practice of Organized Team Activities (OTA) today, followed by a press conference with Head Coach John Harbaugh and several key players.
But all of that has been canceled.
That's because the Ravens were forced to forfeit their final two days of OTAs due to an undisclosed infraction of practice rules, the league announced Wednesday. Additionally, Owner Steve Bisciotti and Harbaugh were fined $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
"[The fine] is actually, as far as I can tell, less than is written in the CBA," Rapoport said. "The commissioner has discretion to lower some of these fines."
The CBA outlines that a head coach could be fined up to $250,000 for a second violation and a team is subject up to $500,000 on a second violation, per ESPN. It's unknown whether the fines were smaller because of potentially minor infractions.
While the league didn't reveal the details of the violation, Harbaugh said in a statement that "the team has been singled out for pass coverage contact during the early part of OTAs."
"Usually, such a review would be triggered by a player complaint," wrote ESPN's Dan Graziano. "However, a source said, teams that have been penalized for violations in the past can be subject to ‘spot-checks,’ meaning an NFLPA representative could drop in on practice or request a copy of practice film randomly. It's unclear what triggered this most recent investigation of the Ravens."
The Ravens have been penalized twice before for offseason practice violations (2016 and 2010) for which they took full responsibility. This time, Harbaugh stressed that coaches are vigilant in emphasizing contact rules and it sometimes requires a little time for rookies to adjust.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome vouched for Harbaugh and his coaches, saying he sees contact rules stressed in meetings. "I see how the coaching staff teaches, corrects and addresses issues immediately on the field," Newsome said.
Reporters have seen the same.
"Two years ago, Harbaugh took full accountability for the violation. Newsome said the league's action was 'appropriate' in 2010 and that the organization wouldn't let it happen again," wrote WNST's Luke Jones.
"Based on the organization's reaction to Wednesday's announcement, there could be more gray area with the latest violation, but previous transgressions have undoubtedly left the Ravens under the league's microscope. Either way, it's a bad look for an organization with plenty of experience in leadership positions and no excuse to not be able to follow a CBA that's been in place since 2011."
Joe Flacco's Brother Is Transferring from Rutgers to Towson University
Get ready to welcome another Flacco to town.
Quarterback Tom Flacco, brother of Ravens' Joe Flacco, will leave Rutgers University and join the Towson Tigers football team as a graduate transfer, according to NJ.com.
The younger Flacco was a walk-on in 2017 at Rutgers after transferring from Western Michigan, where he appeared in 13 games over his first two seasons. He graduated in May with a degree in labor and employment relations. He has two years of eligibility remaining, which he will begin to use in Towson.
"Flacco's move simplifies Rutgers' quarterback outlook heading into the fall," wrote NJ.com's James Kratch. "The former Eastern High star flashed this spring in the Scarlet-White Game, but it became clear his odds of getting on the field would be long. True freshman Artur Sitkowski, the expected starter, redshirt senior Giovanni Rescigno and sophomore Johnathan Lewis all appeared to be ahead of Flacco on the depth chart following spring practice."
Where Flacco will land on Towson's depth chart isn't yet known, but the move brings him closer to his older brother, who also transferred during his college career to get more playing time. Joe moved from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of Delaware.
"Unlike his bigger brother, the 6-foot-1 Flacco is more of a running threat," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer. "He averaged 9.5 and 7.4 yards per carry as a freshman and sophomore at Western Michigan, respectively, and flashed his elusiveness at Rutgers' spring game."
This is the third Flacco brother to play sports in the Baltimore area. Michael Flacco was drafted by the Orioles in the 31st round in 2009 and spent four years in the team's farm system. He also tried out for the Ravens as a tight end in 2015 but didn't make the team.
Ravens Have a Busy Day in the Community
On Wednesday, the Ravens ….
- Built an entire playground in downtown Baltimore with KaBOOM! and 150 players, coaches, alumni, M&T Bank employees and staff members
- Hosted a youth football clinic with running backs Alex Collins and Buck Allen, along with several other players
- Donated $10,000 to help Ellicott City recover from major flooding for the second time in as many years
It was an impressive showing in the community.
Where Does AFC North Fall in Division Rankings?
For years, the AFC North was considered one of the strongest divisions in the NFL. It consistently boasted the threat of three teams making the playoffs in the Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.
All three advanced in 2011 and 2014, but there's been a decline in recent years. The last time there were even two representatives was 2015.
The recent lull may be part of the reason why NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal ranked the AFC North as the fifth strongest of the eight NFL divisions.
"The Steelers rank with the Patriots and Eagles as the safest picks to make it back to the playoffs," Rosenthal wrote. "The onus on lifting the AFC North to greater overall relevance lies with the other three teams, which all have major bounce-back potential. Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh are fighting for their careers, with a strong defensive base to build off. The Bengals boast a roster without huge weaknesses ... and a lot of players in their prime. The Browns' depth chart barely resembles the 0-16 squad from a year ago.
"This was the last AFC division to send three teams to the playoffs, back in 2014. While it's a longshot, the North has the best chance of any AFC division to do it again."
- Vegas has already set Week 1 betting lines, and the Ravens are favored by five points over the Buffalo Bills. "The Bills are probably going to start AJ McCarron and they are very much playing for the future. I suspect the Bills will be in shouting range of the first-overall pick when it's all said and done, which won't be a bad thing for their continued rebuild," wrote Jason La Canfora. "... Baltimore is a solid-enough team with the coach and QB playing for their future there, and the receivers are upgraded from a year ago. Joe Flacco is finally healthy again and plenty motivated, and the Ravens at home early in the season are usually a safe bet." [CBS Sports]