Late For Work 8/14: Joe Flacco Responds To GOP Question With Autograph


Joe Flacco Responds To GOP Question With Autograph

Well, PFTCommenter got his answer.

And it was signed by quarterback Joe Flacco himself.

The NFL comedic blogger crashed the Republican GOP debates last week with a hilarious question, “Is Joe Flacco a elite quarterback?”

(For those ready to correct the bad grammar and spelling, it was part of the joke. PFTCommenter constantly mocks the elite question and is the inventor of the Flaccometer).

So Ravens fan @erodgold Elie Goldstein set out to answer the question at the Ravens preseason opener last night against the New Orleans Saints.  He brought another grammatically incorrect sign to the contest that read: “Yes, Joe is ‘a’ elite QB.”

And just like PFTCommenter, Goldstein’s sign was caught on camera by the TV broadcast.

Even better, Elie was able to get Flacco’s attention after the game, and the Ravens quarterback literally put his stamp of approval on the sign by autographing it.

“He cracked up. And he signed it,” Goldstein said. “I asked him if he wanted to take a picture with it. He laughed and said, ‘oh no, don’t want to do that.’”

Fair enough, Joe. But you sure made everyone’s day by signing the obvious answer to the football world’s most-asked question.

Can’t Get Much Smoother For Trestman, Flacco

Flacco’s (brief) performance last night made perhaps a stronger statement on his elite status than his autograph. In fact, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley called it “nearly perfect.”

Four coordinators in four years? No problem, once again, for Flacco.

Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than 16 plays for 80 yards and a touchdown on the starting offense’s only drive of the game. And it ate up more than half of the first quarter game clock in the process.

So while there are concerns with the defensive backups (see below), “the Ravens had to feel good about what matters most,” wrote Zrebiec.  At the top of the priority list is Flacco clicking with his new offensive coordinator.

Flacco was sharp with his arm and legs, going 5-of-6 for 33 yards and adding a 17-yard scamper to convert on third down.

“Joe Flacco's first game with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman – albeit the preseason opener – couldn't have gone much smoother,” wrote Hensley.

Wrote our own John Eisenberg: “Marc Trestman hit a home run with the first-team offense in his debut as the Ravens offensive coordinator. ..[I]t was impossible not to come away thinking [Flacco is] in step with Trestman’s vision for the offense and in command of what he’s doing.”

Things Get Iffy When Starters Leave Field

As long as the defensive starters stay healthy this year, the Ravens should be fine.

Like defensive leader Terrell Suggs said, it’s hard to start the season any better. His unit only allowed 11 yards on the first two series. The offense opened the game with a methodical eight-minute touchdown drive.

But when the starters rested, things got a little dicey, particularly on defense. And that’s leaving questions about the unit’s depth.

“Once the starters left the field though, things got a bit iffy,” wrote Derek Arnold of Russell Street Report. “We’re used to seeing the Ravens be the ones to dominate once the backups get in the game in these preseason contests, as their quality depth shines through. That was decidedly NOT the case tonight, as New Orleans’ backups dominated the Ravens’ [backups].”

“As far as preseason openers go, everything went about as well as the Ravens could have hoped with the first-team offense and defense,” added The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “The second-team defense was a different story.”

The defensive backups allowed Saints quarterback Josh McCown to throw a 28-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandin Cooks. Several defenders were blocked out of the play, and Head Coach John Harbaugh was shaking his head on the sideline. Then there was the six-play, 90-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half.

Again, Harbaugh was not pleased:

Zrebiec believes the second-team defense looked “vulnerable” because injuries have already taken a toll. Safety Matt Elam and defensive end Brett Urban already suffered potential season-ending bicep tears, and second-year defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan was out with a foot injury. To help supplement, the Ravens converted corners to safety and Carl Davis and Lawrence Guy played all four quarters.

Things didn’t get any better when reserves Asa Jackson (knee) and Steven Means (unknown) left the game.

“The team's health remains the biggest concern at this juncture of training camp,” added Zrebiec.

That, and the backup secondary’s tackling ability. Hensley thought tackling was so bad that he dubbed it the “one reason to freak out.”

“The Ravens looked bad in trying to defend a screen pass to Brandin Cooks, who turned a short catch into a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter,” Hensley wrote. “Asa Jackson couldn't shed a block, and Quinton Pointer got shoved onto his back. Later in the second quarter, New Orleans running back Khiry Robinson ran over safety Anthony Levine to score a 21-yard touchdown.”

Carl Davis? Maybe That Dude Could Start

As bleak as things seemed with the defensive backups, third-round rookie Carl Davis was a breath of fresh air.  While he technically was considered a starter Thursday night, replacing the injured Jernigan, Davis is expected to come in off the bench during the regular season. He is listed as the backup nose tackle to Brandon Williams. 

The guy was everywhere against the Saints, and played all four quarters before finally taking a break when he started to cramp up toward the end of the game. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound versatile monster finished the night with a quarterback hit and a pass defensed, and he spent a lot of time in the Saints backfield.

Maybe that dude could start,” wrote Hensley. “[He] looked like he belonged on the first-team defense.” 

SchaubAlleviates Concerns With One Throw 

That is why Harbaugh has been defending Matt Schaub all this time.

Outsiders were skeptical of Schaub’s explanation for his litter of interceptions in practice. He said he was testing his new targets to see what they could and was taking chances he wouldn’t take in a game. It was a fair point, but there was still concern …

“All of the concerns … were temporarily squelched on his best throw of the summer,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

The throw came on Schaub’s first series in the game, and it was a beautiful 45-yard touchdown strike to receiver Michael Campanaro.

“For someone who didn't show much arm strength in the first 10 practices of training camp, Schaub hit a wide-open Campanaro right on target with a throw that traveled 32 yards in the air,” Hensley wrote.

The former Pro Bowler wasn’t finished there. He led the team on three consecutive scoring drives, finishing 11-of-18 for 134 yards and one touchdown. He could have had another touchdown had rookie tight Maxx Williams held onto a pass in the end zone. 

And he orchestrated the last two drives with only two projected starters on the field in tight end Crockett Gillmore and wide receiver Kamar Aiken.

“The surrounding inexperience didn’t seem to affect Schaub, whose uneven play in training camp has been well-documented,” wrote Zrebiec. “He looked sharp for much of the night, though he did throw a bad interception on the Ravens’ first possession of the second half.”

But that interception didn’t seem to be Schaub’s fault. Former Ravens receiver and current WBAL analyst Qadry Ismael said it was receiver Jeremy Butler’s fault for not running the correct route.

“In his first outing with the Ravens, [Schaub] showed more promise and playmaking ability than he did in camp,” Hensley wrote.

Campanaro Not Thinking Of Injuries

Want to know my first thought after receiver Michael Campanaro scored his 45-yard touchdown?

No? Too bad.

I thought, “I wonder if Campanaro can stay healthy this season because the Ravens need more of that.”

Well, apparently that is the opposite of what Camp was thinking.

Quick Hits

  • “A surprise performer who looks amazing: backup right tackle Jah Reid,” wrote Hensley. “When the Ravens re-signed Reid this offseason, there were a lot of people scratching their heads (myself included). Reid didn't resemble a disappointing third-round pick Thursday, showing more fire than his previous four seasons. Backing up Rick Wagner, Reid pushed around defensive linemen and even pancaked one.” [ESPN]
  • No clarity in return game,” Hensley added. “It's safe to say no one stood out in trying to replace Jacoby Jones. Jackson's longest punt return was nine yards, and DeAndre Carter bobbled a kickoff return twice. Michael Campanaro had a 10-yard punt return.” [ESPN]
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