Would Flacco Admit If Injury Affected Game?
In reviewing quarterback Joe Flacco's bumpy second-half performance, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec thought it was important to consider two things.
First, of Flacco's 20 incompletions, Zrebiec couldn't remember many times where the fifth-year quarterback just missed an open receiver. "There were a couple [misses], but the point is that it shouldn't be lost in the offense's struggles that the wide receivers were getting little to no separation. I think that was one of the biggest problems."
The cause for the lack of separation can be debated. Was the Eagles secondary really that good and Ravens receivers that bad? Or were the replacement refs letting defenders get away with more contact and holding? But that's a different topic for another time.
Zrebiec's note to consider: "I also think that Flacco was affected by the hit that he took to the rib cage early in the second half though he'd never admit it."
Flacco did take more hits than the team would have liked.
While the Eagles were only able to muster two sacks on the day, they hit Flacco six times and he was hurried another nine. He was under pressure during 35 percent of his throws.
Flacco did admit after the game that his ribs were "rolled up on a little bit" on the first play of the second half. But he* *didn't say whether it affected his play.
"There might be a little bit of a health issue with Flacco," our own John Eisenberg told WNST yesterday. "I think he got popped in the ribs pretty good."
But Flacco did not appear on the injury report yesterday, meaning he fully participated in practice. One might think he would have been at least limited if there were any lingering effects.
Asked after practice if he feels healthy and if his ribs are OK, Flacco responded: "Yeah, I feel good."
Pitta Leapfrogged Dickson On Depth Chart
There was an interesting change on the Ravens depth chart that was released yesterday afternoon.
"Tight end Dennis Pitta has leapfrogged Ed Dickson," wrote The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Dickson was drafted one round (third) ahead of Pitta in the 2010 draft, and has consistently been listed ahead of Pitta on the depth chart.
But Pitta has become one of Flacco's favorite targets recently, catching 13 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown through the first two weeks of the season. Pitta was targeted a game-high 15 times against the Eagles.
Despite the change on the depth chart, both tight ends will still see "significant" playing time, says Wilson. But Pitta's involvement continues to increase as he leads all Ravens receivers with those 13 receptions.
Flacco told reporters Wednesday there is no specific reason that Pitta is being targeted more, other than the fact that he's open.
"It was a matter of me going through progressions and him maybe being the guy we're trying to target," Flacco said. "Or just going through and by the time I get to his point in the progression, he's open. I don't really know what to attribute that to."
Time To Get T. Smith More Involved?
While Pitta has gotten off to a hot start, Zrebiec says he'd like to see Flacco try to get second-year speedster Torrey Smith more involved.
Smith has been targeted eight times in two games, compared to Pitta's 24 targets, Ray Rice's 15 and Anquan Boldin's nine.
"It's just two weeks and I think we all learned our lesson last year about rushing to judgment on Smith, who was shut out for the first games in his rookie season," wrote Zrebiec. "But the Ravens really could use him to get going and maybe getting the ball in his hands early Sunday would do the trick."
Rice Backs Play Calling, Says Offense Is Flacco's
Jason Butt of CBSSports.com pointed out that after watching the film, Rice backed the play calls at the end of Sunday's loss.
Asked if he wished he could have run the ball in some of those third-and-short situations, Rice firmly said, "No."
"When we looked at the film, they were great calls," he added. "It was just a little off in execution. The time when Dennis Pitta was open in the flat, if we complete that pass – or at the end of the game, if we complete those throws – we're not even having this discussion."
Rice was also quick to say his quarterback is the offensive leader, taking the spotlight off himself.
"I've said it before: This is Joe's offense, but I think he's taking that role of he is the quarterback of this offense and we rally behind him," Rice said. "So, when he starts lighting people up, we just have to keep going and rally behind him. When we're all down, we pick each other up."
Kruger's Back Injury Still Lingering
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger told reporters last week that he expected to play against the Eagles. But he missed that game, and he is still recovering three days later. He was limited in practice yesterday.
Kruger said, per CBSSports.com, that his back has been slow to heal.
"It's just been a bad progression over the last couple of weeks," Kruger said. "It gets worse at certain times. It's something I'm fighting through."
Still, Kruger is holding out hope to play in the AFC title rematch against the Patriots Sunday night.
"I'm just excited to get out there this week," Kruger said. "Big game for us. I'm doing everything I can to get healthy. It's killing me not to be out there every day. I'm doing everything I can."
You Can't Keep Up With These Joneses
You can't keep up with these Joneses, so don't bother trying, says FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez.
He's, of course, referring to the three Jones brothers – Art, Jon and Chandler –* *who have a big weekend ahead.
Middle brother,* *Jon, will defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight title Saturday night in Toronto. And on Sunday youngest brother Chandler will face off against the oldest Jones, Ravens defensive lineman Arthur.
"In the sports world, no trio of brothers will command the spotlight this weekend like Jon, Chandler and Arthur Jones III," wrote Marvez.
Below is a great video of the three brothers coming together on the night of the 2012 draft, when Chandler was selected by the Patriots. Art was hopeful his younger brother would become his teammate in Baltimore, but when that didn't happen he was already playing up the showdown for this Sunday.
- @JasonButtCBS: Pernell McPhee said knee was tight when game kicked off last Sunday but that it loosened up as the game went on. Could be worth monitoring. [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: With Michael Oher, don't think his ankle injury is serious, but saw him limping in locker room after the game Sunday [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: Bill Belichick: 'I have a lot of respect for that entire organization. This is a big game, but two losses isn't going to eliminate anybody.' [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: John harbaugh on [Pats'] chandler jones and donta hightower 'we liked those guys a lot when they picked them it was one more good player off board' [Twitter]
- @jeffzrebiecsun: Brady also isn't buying the theory that the Ravens defense has taken a step back. "It's two games. They look the same to me." [Twitter]
- Watch out for clips on the website later today … @RayRice27: If you not watching Ray Lewis "A football life" you missing out on something special and I'm not saying that because he is my teammate. [Twitter]
- "Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I thought rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele played a little better than he was given credit for Sunday," wrote Zrebiec. "Jason Babin and Trent Cole, the Eagles' two pass-rushing defensive ends, made some plays, but that has to be expected when Flacco dropped back over 40 times. I thought Osemele and left tackle Michael Oher held their own." [The Baltimore Sun]
- The Ravens aren't the only AFC North defense off to a rough start, which is surprising considering the division's reputation. In addition to Baltimore, Cincy and Cleveland are in the bottom six in defense, all giving up more than 400 yards per game. The Steelers are doing better, currently ranked No. 7. [ESPN]
- The Ravens secondary won't forget about Wes Welker – even if the Patriots might. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Despite all the changes in Baltimore with Terrell Suggs, Dean Pees, etc., the Ravens defense is still formidable [The Boston Globe]
- The Ravens are the new measuring stick for the Patriots. [The Boston Globe]