'Illogical' To Say Flacco Doesn't Make Receivers Better
Soon after tight end Dennis Pitta went down with a season-ending hip injury, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal called out quarterback Joe Flacco.
"Flacco hasn't always made those around him better, lifted up mediocre WRs/TEs. [He] will need to this year," the blogger tweeted. "Flacco will need to make the reserve WRs, Dickson, etc. better than they really are."
Rosenthal's assertion was immediately challenged.
"I just think that point, respectfully to Gregg, whom I've never met but seems like a nice guy, it just seems as illogical as it is incorrect," ESPN The Magazine's Kevin Van Valkenburg told WNST.
"It's something that as soon as you apply the logic to it, it completely unravels. There's really no way to defend it whatsoever."
In order to apply some logic, let's look at what some of Flacco's key former receivers did after they left Baltimore.
1,037 yards (2008), 1,028 yards (2009), 802 yards (2010)
170 with Jets/Texans (2011), retired (2012)
403 yards (2008), 593 yards (2009), 599 yards (2010)
283 yards with Cardinals (2011), 94 yards with Cardinals (2012)
695 yards (2008), 480 yards (2009)
306 yards with Rams (2010), 26 yards with Rams (2011)
What success did T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who dropped a perfectly-placed Flacco pass and sealed a Ravens loss in the 2011 divisional playoff game, go on to enjoy post-Flacco? What success did Lee Evans, who dropped another perfectly-placed game-winning Flacco pass in the 2012 AFC championship game, go on to enjoy post-Flacco? Kelley Washington? Donte Stallworth? * *
"When I see Flacco hit Ed Dickson in the hands with a frozen rope and he drops it I think, 'Dammit Joe! Can't you make Ed better?'" Van Valkenburg sarcastically tweeted. "Maybe he propped [his receivers] up?"
And as Van Valkenburg pointed out, who's to say some successful Ravens receivers would have been as successful without Flacco?
Was Pitta, a fourth-round pick out of BYU, always expected to have a successful NFL career? Is every second-round receiver as successful as Torrey Smith? Was his breakout in the NFL inevitable with or without Flacco?
Now, Flacco will team up with a mostly inexperienced receiving group with Pitta down and Anquan Boldin in San Francisco. Outside of Smith and Jacoby Jones, none of them really have an NFL track record.
Tandon Doss has seven NFL career catches, Deonte Thompson has five, David Reed has five, and LaQuan Williams has four. Ed Dickson does have experience, but had a down year last season with only 21 receptions for 225 yards and no touchdowns.
Our own John Eisenberg called it a "roll of the dice" for the Ravens not to bring in a more proven veteran. The Ravens are betting the unproven receivers will step up.
History shows Flacco may be able to help.
Ravens Odds Of Winning Super Bowl
Just days away from playing their first game (albeit a preseason game) since winning the Super Bowl, Bovada sports book has shared its latest odds for the Ravens repeating.
At 25-1, Baltimore has the fourth-lowest odds in the AFC of winning the 2014 Super Bowl. Denver (6-1), New England (9-1) and Houston (18-1) lead all AFC teams.
That said, Bovada's odds indicate the Ravens still have a very good chance of a three-peat as division champs. The popular pick to win the AFC North is the Bengals, but Bovada gives them the third-best odds (3-1) while the Ravens and Steelers are tied (9-5).
*Odds To Win the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII *
Denver Broncos 6/1
San Francisco 49ers 6/1
New England Patriots 9/1
Seattle Seahawks 9/1
Atlanta Falcons 12/1
Green Bay Packers 12/1
Houston Texans 18/1
New Orleans Saints 18/1
New York Giants 22/1
Baltimore Ravens 25/1
Now Time To Sound Dickson Alarm?
Yesterday I encouraged fans to hold off on sounding the alarm on Dickson's hamstring injury until we got an update from Head Coach John Harbaugh.
The update yesterday afternoon was this: Dickson has a slight tear in his hamstring and will be out a "week or so."
Can the alarm be sounded now? As my colleague Garrett Downing told me yesterday, maybe the code orange alarm, but not code red.
Dickson's injury is not considered serious, and he's expected to be ready Week 1. However, he will miss reps with Flacco as they try to build more chemistry, and it's never good when injuries start to pile up at one position. Dickson's hamstring tear is magnified since Pitta already went down.
"While it's not time to hit the panic button just yet, there has to be an increased level of concern about the tight end position and the impact on the passing attack," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "At the start of camp, many envisioned the Ravens using a two-tight end attack. Now, a little over a week removed from the first padded practice, the Ravens are down to Visanthe Shiancoe. It's been 20 months since Shiancoe caught a pass in a regular-season game. It's been four years since he had over 50 receptions in a season."
Ravens O-Line One Of Best In NFL?
The Ravens offensive line got off to a shaky start in camp when left tackle Bryant McKinnie reported overweight, Kelechi Osemele went down with an injury and Marshal Yanda started on the physically unable to perform list.
But its stock is on the rise, says The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel, since McKinnie has gotten into better shape and Osemele has returned.
Yanda is still being held out as a precaution, but the Pro Bowler is expected to be fine when the season starts. Add Michael Oher to the right side, where Harbaugh believes he can become a Pro Bowler, and you have a very solid line. The question mark along the line is the center battle between Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley.
"After looking like turnstiles the first week of camp while trying to block Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and company, the starting offensive line has stabilized itself," Vensel wrote. "They haven't been great, but at least Joe Flacco isn't running for his life anymore. It helps that Bryant McKinnie is actually able to make it through a practice."
But Daniel Jeremiah, an NFL analyst and former Ravens scout, thinks the line is more than just solid.
"You look at their offensive line … I think this is one of the better offensive lines in football," he said in the video below. Check it out.
- Smith's stock is up after a "pedestrian" start to camp, but three other receivers' stocks are down: David Reed, LaQuan Williams and Tommy Streeter. Wrote Vensel: "Williams missed a few practices with an arm injury and Reed sat out Sunday. When on the field, they didn't do much to stand out. As for Streeter … he was mostly invisible besides hauling in a long touchdown in one practice." [The Baltimore Sun]
- The Ravens vs. Buccaneers preseason game on Thursday night will be blacked out because Tampa Bay didn't sell the required 85 percent of tickets. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- Here's a sweet picture, taken by team photographer Shawn Hubbard, rookie safety Matt Elam tweeted out with two other Ravens safeties: Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo. #HitEverythingThatMoves
- @mattvensel: Arthur Jones on Haloti Ngata: We joke around and say he eats horses, but he has God-given strength that most players in the NFL don't have. [Twitter]
- Former Ravens cheerleader and Hollywood star Stacy Keibler is helping design a collection with Meesh & Mia for NFL Women’s Apparel and starring in an upcoming ad campaign. [People]
- @NFL_ATL: Ed Reed told Deion Sanders he is 75-80%. Said if first game was today he wouldn't play....but, "If it was the Super Bowl today, I'd play." [Twitter]
- @SpOlympicsMD: Thanks to the @Ravens for having us out to today! Awesome having support from guys like @TeamFlacco & @GinoGrad56 [Twitter]
- @KLM_89 Ravens rookie linebacker Kapron Lewis-Moore]: [Can't wait till I'm healthy to play ball and compete again.. It's tough getting mental reps in camp but gotta stay the course! [Twitter]
- A funeral Mass for Art Donovan is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. There will be no viewing and interment is private. [The Baltimore Sun]