The Byrne Identity: Flacco Injures Harbaugh


Flacco Injures Harbaugh

Know how bad it is around the Ravens' facility this week? Joe Flacco cut John Harbaugh under his right eye in a little bit of a wrestling match on Wednesday.

Ugly, hurtful loss on Monday night in Jacksonville, and then we have the quarterback and head coach going after each other.

Where's TMZ on this?

Look, I'm exaggerating a little. But, Joe did cut John under the eye when they were doing a little horsing around. John, who was holding a pen in his hand, reached out to Joe, who pushed the arm away – and the butt of the pen caught Harbs on the cheek.

Hey, we're mostly guys around here, and this stuff happens. We elbow each other when we walk by, we wrestle a little bit. We spend a lot of time together. We're guys. We do that to each other. Maybe it was another way for John and Joe to let each other know they have each other's backs. John is proud of his "badge of courage." Joe laughs that John is "old and slow."

We needed some playful stuff like this right now. There's panic in the streets. It's not everyone, but there are some fans and some reporters clamoring, "Give us Barabbas!" Joe can't play. Cam Cameron can't call plays, and Coach Harbaugh should have kicked the ball downfield.

Somebody Is At Fault

Respected columnist John Eisenberg wrote on this website earlier this week: "Predictably, the public's fingers are pointed, actually jabbed more than pointed, at various culprits, mostly Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco."

Cam can handle it. As Coach Harbaugh says, "Cam has broad shoulders." Cam said, "That's part of our deal. Heat on me. Heat on Joe. We can do better. Criticism comes with the territory." Harbs said: "We all deserve fingers pointed at us with the way the offense played Monday. It was just a bad performance, and everyone knows it." Flacco commented that "You get sick to your stomach when you think back about the way we played."

(By the way, unusual stat: Do you know who has the worst defense in the NFL right now? The 5-1 Patriots, who are guided by that defensive genius Bill Belichick, are dead last. The Patriots, however, are scoring 30.1 points per game, fourth-best in the league – four spots better than the Ravens, who are scoring 25.8 points per game, currently ninth best.)

It's About Execution

Anquan Boldin gave it some perspective yesterday when he said: "We had one bad performance, and everybody thinks we're the worst in the league right now. We have to execute, play better, and the critics will go away."

*(We shouldn't, by the way, ignore what Jacksonville's defense accomplished. They're pretty good, currently ranked sixth in the league. They spent over $100 million in the offseason to bolster their defense with players like Dawan Landry, Paul Posluszny and Clint Session. Amazingly, they held the Steelers and Ravens to a grand total of 71 yards over four consecutive quarters – 55 (four yards passing) for the Steelers in the second half two weeks ago Sunday and our paltry 16 in the first two quarters on Monday.) *

As we've tried to explain what happened against the Jaguars, you've heard Boldin, Cam, Joe, Ray Rice and Coach Harbaugh all talk about "execution," or lack thereof. What does that mean anyway? Fans want answers. Some want scalps. How about a hanging at high noon?

My hope with this column was to give more detail about our offensive failures. To give some insight to show that's it's not all Cam or Joe's fault. I had one of our personnel experts, who grades each of our players every play in every game, and one of our coaches, show me the failures on tape.

Man, do I have a list. I watched four of the first-half series when we produced no first downs. You know what I saw – a lack of execution. Sometimes it was a lineman. Another time it was a back running to the wrong hole or trying to do too much. One instance, it was a young receiver thrown off a route by a veteran defensive back. And, yes, Joe did miss somebody running free down the field on another play.

These things happen even with successful plays. They happen every game. Most are physical errors – someone dominating another player.

I could give you the names of those who did not get it done on every one of these plays. But, I won't. I won't publicly throw anyone under the bus. That's not what we do. It's hard enough keeping a team together without internal finger pointing.

We Have To Get Better

But, we have to get better. I saw that resolve in the locker room immediately after Monday's loss. Coach Harbaugh called on Ed Reed to take the center of the huddle. "We know what we have to do," Reed stated. "Be accountable for your job. Do your job. Work hard!"

Simple message, but to the point.

I believe we will respond against the Cardinals. And, I love what Ray Lewis told reporters on Wednesday: "You have a bad game, and you have to brush it off. There is not one side of the ball that has a bad game. WEall lost the game. Let's move on. A team becomes a brotherhood. When you become a brotherhood, there's never looking with an awkward eye at the person on the other side. Everything is us. Anybody on the outside can criticize. We have to get better."

What Better Place To Get Better

The Cardinals will be a test this Sunday. They can beat us. We know that. They know that. But, it's going to be hard for Arizona. The wall of purple awaits. The team is ready and will feed off that energy at M&T Bank Stadium. Let's beat the Cardinals.

Talk to you next week,


***Kevin Byrne***, a Ravens senior vice president, has worked in the NFL for 32 years. Byrne has been with the Ravens since the start of the franchise in 1996. Earlier in his career, Byrne was the sports information director at Marquette University, his alma mater, when they won the 1977 NCAA basketball championship under coach Al McGuire.

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