Late For Work 9/16: How Joe Flacco Improved His Accuracy

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How Joe Flacco Improved His Accuracy

72.4 That was quarterback Joe Flacco's impressive completion rate Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The last time he eclipsed the 70 percent mark? It was almost a year ago, again against the Steelers, on Oct. 20. And it was the only time last season that Flacco broke the mark.

Flacco was the 25th most accurate quarterback in 2013 among qualifying signal callers, according to Pro Football Focus, who takes into account dropped passes, throwaways, spiked balls, batted passes, and QB hits, unlike the raw completion percentage. Through two games this season, he has climbed to No. 8 in PFF's quarterback accuracy list.

Want to know why Flacco was so accurate Thursday night?

"The reasons are quite simple," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

Here are five Hensley provides:

1)      Gary Kubiak's offense has Flacco throwing higher percentage passes (21 of his 29 attempts traveled 5 or fewer yards). Lots of shorter passes on slants to Steve Smith, his tight ends over the middle and running back Justin Forsett in the flat.

2)      Flacco didn't force passes downfield, as he did in more vertical offenses under Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell. 

3)      In the West Coast offense, Flacco throws more in a rhythm and gets rid of the ball quicker.

4)      He showed more composure.

5)      Improved pass protection. Flacco was under duress or hit on just one of his 29 dropbacks, which was the safest pocket of any quarterback in Week 2.

Will Hill To Be Reinstated From Suspension?

An estimated 20 players will be affected by the new NFL drug policy once it is approved (likely today), according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Could it affect Ravens safety Will Hill, who has served two games of a six-game suspension for his third violation of the previous drug policies?

"I have no sense of that at all," Harbaugh said Monday. "No one has spoken to me about that. I'm interested in it, though." 

The Ravens signed Hill to a one-year deal reportedly worth $570,000 on July 25. He played last season for the New York Giants, grading out as the third-best safety in the league by Pro Football Focus.

Forrester: Please Stop Asking Harbaugh About Injuries

It's understandable that reporters, fans and fantasy football owners want to know when the Ravens will get back one of their top corners in Lardarius Webb.

But guess who else wants to know?

Opponents.

That's why Harbaugh consistently declines to give information on Webb, or any other injured players for that matter.  Blogger Drew Forrester, formerly of WNST, thinks reporters should just stop asking.

"I can honestly say in all of my years covering and/or talking about the Ravens, I've never asked Brian Billick or John Harbaugh an injury question," Forrester wrote. "I'm amazed beyond belief these days when I hear veteran reporters who absolutely know better than to ask about injuries ask Harbaugh anyway.  They know he's not going to answer the question.  

"Of course he isn't answering an injury question.  Why should he?  There's no reason at all for a football coach to disclose his team's injuries to the media. … It sure would be nice to have one Harbaugh press conference come and go without someone asking about player injuries.  It's just a huge waste of time." 

Only Browns QB Worth Talking About Is Hoyer

The Ravens "absolutely" plan on seeing Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel on the field Sunday when they travel to Cleveland. He made an appearance three times last week, with the rest of the snaps going to starter Brian Hoyer.

While the Ravens will have to prepare for Manziel, CSNBaltimore.com's Ray Frager says the only quarterback "worth talking about" is Hoyer.

"Let's call him Johnny Irrelevant," Frager wrote. "[T]here is only one Browns quarterback anyone cares about right now, and that's Brian Hoyer."

It was Hoyer who led his team on a late comeback game-winning drive to upset the New Orleans Saints Sunday. And it's Hoyer who has a 4-1 record as a starter.

"Who's Johnny Football?" asked Frager.

Is AFC North Really The Best Division?

Of course we're all biased in Baltimore. Why wouldn't we agree with Harbaugh that the AFC North may be the toughest division in football?

So, let's take a look at what national analysts think.

Five NFL.com scribes discussed which division reigns supreme in the NFL, and not surprisingly, many tipped their hats to the NFC West, which includes the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.

However two writers – Marc Sessler and Dave Dameshek – agree with Harbs, and Gregg Rosenthal thinks the AFC North is right behind the NFC West.

"I'll side with Harbaugh … and the AFC North," wrote Sessler. "For that to stick, though, the long-lost Brownies must prove to be more than a one-week mirage. Playing the Ravens on Sunday should serve as a proper acid test."

Harbs Watched 7 Episodes Of 'Lost' This Weekend

What does a head coach do after a Thursday night win with an extra-long weekend?

He works of course. And in Harbaugh's case, he prepared for the Cleveland Browns most of the time.

But he did get in a little quality time with his daughter. Saturday night, Harbs and Alison watched SEVEN episodes of ABC's "Lost."

"I'm trying to figure out what the heck the island is," Harbaugh joked in the CSNBaltimore.com video below.  

Harbs is a few years late to the game on the television series, but I like the dedication with the late-night binge watching. I did the same for the first couple of seasons (when the show was still good).

Quick Hits

  • Haloti Ngata granted an Iowa teen a trip of a lifetime. [KCCI.com]
  • Is Bernard Pierce the No. 1 running back after a successful Week 2 outing? "Bernard Pierce is going to get a bulk of the touches this season, which isn't a surprise," wrote Hensley. "I still feel Justin Forsett earned the right to start Thursday night's game after his 70-yard rushing performance in the season opener. But, as I wrote last week, Pierce was going to receive the bulk of the work after the team released [Ray] Rice. He has more size than Forsett, and he has more experience than rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he will go with the hotter running back, and Forsett could end up with more touches in certain games because of that. Still, if you're projecting for the entire season, Pierce will end up with the most carries (barring injury, of course). He has started the first two games, and he will remain in that role for the rest of the season." [ESPN]
  • Harbaugh "chose his words carefully" when asked about the roughing-the-passer-penalty on Courtney Upshaw Thursday for his hit on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "It's difficult because the way the rules are written is one thing, what's possible to accomplish is another thing," Harbaugh said Monday. "There's no way to coach Courtney out of that. He's coming full-speed, he's going down into the strike zone and he's keeping his eyes up. He can't lift his head any higher than that. He also can't get his head off to the side because Ben's moving, and also the fact that if he gets his head off to the side, he's got a really good chance of missing the tackle or hurting himself by dropping his head. We're never going to put our player in a position to coach him to drop his head." [The Baltimore Sun]
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