OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Taking time to go out to dinner during the biggest week of his NFL career to this point, Joe Flacco was surprised to see teammate Ed Reed being mentioned on TV.
What was even more unexpected was the critical assessment of Flacco and the Ravens offense that Reed provided in an interview with SiriusXM’s NFL Radio.
“When I first saw it, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Flacco said. “Like I said, we talked about it. We are a team around here. It’s not really that big of an issue. I don’t really take things like that bad. It is Ed. It is what it is.”
Yes, the Ravens spent most of Wednesday playing damage control as they welcomed the media back to their Owings Mills facility ahead of one of the most important games in the history of the franchise. While there were still plenty of questions about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Flacco and his teammates had to respond to the comments made by Reed suggesting the quarterback was rattled by the Houston defense on Sunday.
Reed was not available to the media on Wednesday but conducted an interview with ESPN’s Chris Berman. He explained he didn’t think his teammates would “take anything out of context” in what he said.
“If they do, it’s got to be motivation to prove me wrong,” he said.
The consensus was Reed’s comments were not a big deal and the Ravens had far more important goals on which to focus this week, but the simple fact that the team had to address it at all suggested it struck a nerve during the biggest week of the season.
“I talked to Ed about it,” Flacco said. “It was a little funny to me. I was a little caught off guard. It is what it is. We talked about it. It’s really not that big of a deal.”
Reed’s comments were a sharp juxtaposition to Terrell Suggs’ well-publicized debates with ESPN’s Skip Bayless in which the Pro Bowl linebacker has repeatedly defended his quarterback’s play and chastised Bayless for his overwhelming support of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Recently, Suggs placed Flacco among the game’s elite quarterbacks, saying the Ravens were going to ride his shoulders to the Super Bowl.
However, he found himself being asked the same tired questions on Wednesday.
“I don’t have to stick up for Joe,” Suggs said. “His reputation speaks for itself. I just say what people seem to forget sometimes. That’s all it’s about.”
If Reed’s comments provided any lingering effect, it appears the Ravens have drawn a line in the sand in support of their quarterback. While no one openly criticized the future Hall of Fame safety for questioning Flacco and the offensive side of the football, players weren’t going out of their way to excuse the safety’s thoughts either.
All things considered, that’s a positive if you want to classify the impact of Reed’s comments in the locker room.
The 33-year-old is mercurial, sometimes gregarious and other times introverted, depending on the day or even the hour. He’s never been one to seek out or to embrace media opportunities throughout his NFL career.
The Ravens have chalked it up to Reed being himself and have already moved past the Houston game and the fallout from an uneven offensive performance in the 20-13 win.
“It’s not an issue,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “The only issue we have, as a team, is going up and trying to get a victory in Foxborough. Anything else that anybody else wants to bring up is irrelevant at this time. Every person in our locker room is thinking of it the same way.”
Though he had to cringe when first learning of Reed’s comments, coach John Harbaugh took the high road in defending the long-time safety, talking about his character and history of being critical of his own play.
The Ravens have no choice but to move on from the brief moment of division.
“We all take a very critical approach to what we do and a very humble heart to our job and to the challenges ahead,” Harbaugh said. “And we try to make each other better the best way we can and we move on. And that’s what we’re doing. You just move on. We know each other; we understand each other.”
As media and fans continue to question Flacco’s ability to lead the Ravens to the promised land, his coaches and teammates — outside Reed’s moment of weakness — continue to provide steadfast support of his leadership and abilities in their fourth straight trip to the postseason.
Even if it isn’t always conventional or pretty.
“This team as a whole, we’ve never been kind of like anybody’s favorite,” Suggs said. “I think he fits right in with us, kind of with our persona, kind of the flash, flamboyant persona. He is right there in the locker room with us.”