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Late For Work 7/30: Joe Flacco Gets High Grades In Play Action


Flacco Gets High Grades In Play Action

As soon as the Ravens hired Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, the biggest question that followed was whether quarterback Joe Flacco would be a fit in the new scheme.

Based on grades Flacco received last year on designed rollouts and play-action passes, both staples in Kubiak's system, the new offense may do a better job of highlighting Flacco's strengths.

In 2013, Flacco earned a 2.2 grade from statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus (PFF) in plays that had designed rollouts, "which should bode well for the Ravens' new offense," wrote Steve Palazzolo. Even better, Flacco graded at 3.4 when using play action. When the Ravens were not using play action, Flacco scored poorly at -17.2.

"The things we like to do moving around, the zone-pass schemes that we like to run, I think fit to a lot of his strengths," Kubiak said of Flacco in June when the two first starting working together. "We just need to continue to get better with them."

Despite performing so well in play action last year, the Ravens only used it 13.3 percent of the time, according to PFF, which could have been affected by the struggles in the run game last year. That's the third-lowest in the league. Expect that percentage to go up under Kubiak.

Earlier this offseason, some questioned whether Flacco has the athleticism to run the bootleg, a variation of the play-action pass where the quarterback rolls out of the pocket to make a throw, but even Kubiak was surprised to find how athletic the 6-foot-6 Flacco is.

"I had no idea how good an athlete he is. He's a very good athlete," Kubiak said in June.

PFF released just about every grade you could think of in regards to Flacco's performance last year, which featured in the table below. Here are some of the Palazzolo's takeaways:

Positives•  Graded at  5.2 on 2nd-and-medium.
•  Showed well on designed rollouts ( 2.2), which should bode well for the Ravens' new offense.
•  Graded at  0.4 when throwing between the numbers.
•  Graded at  3.4 when using play action.
•  Third-highest grade when throwing hitch routes ( 8.2) and showed well on post routes ( 5.5).

Negatives•  Graded at -6.5 on third downs, including -5.3 on 3rd-and-10 and -5.5 on 3rd-and-long.
•  Struggled on throws in the 11-to-20-yard range (-6.1) as well as the 21-to-30-yard range (-5.9).
•  Third-lowest grade when pressured (-18.5).
•  Graded at -6.0 on passes thrown outside the numbers to the left.
•  Second-lowest grade on drop-backs of at least 9 yards (-10.1).
•  Struggled on passes lasting 3.1 to 3.5 seconds (-7.7).
•  Graded at -17.2 when not using play action.
•  Graded at -6.4 when throwing to running backs including a -3.2 grade when throwing to running backs in the slot.
•  Graded at -17.7 against five or more defensive backs.
•  Ranked last with a -6.5 grade on crossing routes and graded at -3.3 on go routes.


No Structural Damage To Webb's Back

With Lardarius Webb's back issues lingering longer than expected, the team conducted tests and found no structural damage, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

While that is good news, the Ravens will still move forward cautiously with his injury, which is regarded as muscular in nature. Webb left practice early Friday after experiencing some pain. At first, Head Coach John Harbaugh thought it was a minor issue, but the team "became more concerned" as it lingered.

"The team is expected to take a cautious approach with Webb to avoid this potentially becoming a chronic, long-term injury," Wilson wrote. "Webb's availability for practices will be evaluated on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. At this point, the injury isn't expected to affect Webb in the regular season and is expected to get better with rest and rehabilitation."

To bolster depth at the cornerback position, the Ravens signed defensive back Marrio Norman Tuesday. Norman played with Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena Football League last season, notching 57.5 tackles and seven interceptions in 12 games.

Tackle Eric Winston Signs With Seahawks

The cries to sign Erin Winston can officially come to an end.

The former Houston Texans tackle, who spent five years in Kubiak's system, agreed to a one-year contract with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

The chance for a potential reunion is now gone, and nobody is hearing Rick Wagner complain. Wagner is the frontrunner to win the starting right tackle job, and the fact the Ravens didn't sign another veteran off the market speaks to their confidence in Wagner.

"The Ravens never pursued Winston," wrote Wilson. "That was telling, given his connections to Kubiak and Ravens quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison, who coached Winston as offensive line coach for the Texans.

"Winston didn't draw especially high grades for his work the last few seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. And his reputation as a locker-room lawyer because of his work as president of the NFL Players Association hasn't made Winston an easy sell to some in NFL management."

Meanwhile, Wagner has never started in the NFL at the tackle position. The 2013 fifth-round pick mostly only played in jumbo packages for the Ravens last season, but is being given every opportunity to show he can be the guy heading into his second year. He's received high praise from Kubiak.

"Whether Wagner is truly ready for this job won't be known until he faces elite defensive ends and outside linebackers during the regular season, but one thing is already clear," wrote Wilson. "The Ravens felt more comfortable giving Wagner first crack at the position rather than going with a retread like Winston, who started every game for the past seven seasons. They'll know in a few months if they've made the right decision."

Prediction: Jackson Will Win No. 3 CB

As long as Webb returns by the season, the Ravens should only be looking for a No. 3 cornerback (not a No. 2 and No. 3).

Since Corey Graham left via free agency, the spot hasn't been claimed, and it's difficult to even name a frontrunner at this point. But, if you ask's Clifton Brown, Asa Jackson will be the one to eventually claim it.

"I think Asa Jackson will win the job," Brown wrote. "Jackson is quick enough to cover slot receivers, and physical enough to hold his own outside when Lardarius Webb moves into the slot. Chykie Brown still struggles sometimes reacting to the ball in the air. Dominique Franks has already fallen behind in the competition, missing practices until he passed his conditioning test. Don't be surprised if the Ravens sign a veteran corner after more cuts around the league are made. However, I think Jackson is the early favorite to be the No. 3 corner."

Most Surprising Cut This Year?

Every year, there are one or two cuts that surprise fans. Who will they be this year?

Looking at the additions the Ravens made this offseason, Brown believes two players that started games last year are on the bubble.

"I think two veterans that started occasionally last year could be cut – linebacker Josh Bynes and offensive lineman A. Q. Shipley," Brown wrote.

The Ravens used high draft picks for the linebacker spot the last two years on C.J. Mosley and Arthur Brown. Plus, they have Albert McClellan, who has prior starting experience and is strong on special teams. Bynes will have to stand out on special teams to stick around, says Brown.

As for Shipley, he falls behind Kelechi Osemele, who has returned after a season-ending back injury. The Ravens also traded for starting center Jeremy Zuttah, and they also have Gino Gradkowski and Ryan Jensen.

Charges Being Filed In Modell Grave Vandalism

The man who vandalized former Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell's grave could go to jail.
* *Baltimore County authorities will charge the man believed to have urinated on Modell's resting place, according to The Baltimore Sun, and he will be publicly identified once he is served a criminal summons to appear in court. He will be charged with indecent or disorderly conduct in a cemetery, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of two years in jail and a $500 fine.

Modell's son, David, said the announcement of the charges "means a lot to all of us in the Modell family."

"We agree wholeheartedly with the State's Attorney that folks should have confidence that the final resting place of their loved ones is not defiled," David Modell told The Sun. "We are a country of laws and just because you're angry doesn't mean the law no longer applies to you."

Quick Hits

  • @aceandsmitty: I know some folks may not like it. But yeah... I can only play for the team that wants me!!! Employment feels a lot better than unemployment Can't lie looking smooth in new uniform... #ravennation #agent89 #stevesmithsr [Instagram]
  • @bp_30 [Bernard Pierce]: @underarmour #UA shoot [Instagram]
  • @CoachBillick: Observation from #Ravens camp: OFF will be fine during Rice's 2 game susp, Pierce's running style actually better for Kubiak's scheme. Tougher obstacle for Ravens may be how to work Rice back into fold if running game gets off to hot start without him. Which is very likely. [Twitter]
  • @Ravens: Were you at the #RavensCamp stadium practice last night? See if you made our fan gallery [Twitter]
  • @RavensInsider: The one-year, $570,000 deal suspended Ravens safety Will Hill signed includes a split salary of $333,000 if he goes on injured reserve [Twitter]
  • @jtuck9: RT@espn: Manny Machado is a STUD. He just hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning to give the @Orioles a big 7-6 win over the Angels. [Twitter]
  • @TeamFlacco: Where is the best "cup of Joe" in Baltimore, @89SteveSmith? @Starbucks? [Twitter]
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