Tag Archive | "falcons"

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 1.52.23 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Twelve Ravens thoughts following 26-16 win over Atlanta

Posted on 04 December 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens improving their playoff hopes by way of a 26-16 win over Atlanta, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. We’d be talking differently if the defense had been even average in the first half when time of possession was balanced and the offense bumbled more than rumbled. If Atlanta scores to go up 17-7 after taking over at midfield with 3:05 left, how does the second half change?

2. The sum is greater than the parts for a defense continuing to rank first in points allowed and total yards. No individual really stands out as being all that deserving of making the Pro Bowl, but this group was terrific against the Falcons.

3. Marlon Humphrey would top my list of defensive players to at least consider as he currently ranks as the 10th-best cornerback in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. His strong play on Sunday continued a surge that began after he returned from his October thigh injury.

4. Rewatching the game honestly made me feel worse about how Lamar Jackson played in his first road start, but the difference between him and other quarterbacks is what he’ll always provide with his legs if healthy. Traditional passers have bad games, but what else are they contributing when they do?

5. Matt Ryan had thrown for 250 yards in every game this season and Julio Jones had registered six straight 100-yard receiving days before being smothered by Baltimore. Ryan had only 54 passing yards in the second half while Jones didn’t have a catch after the game’s first drive. Crazy.

6. Jackon’s fumble returned 74 yards for a touchdown by Vic Beasley was cringe-worthy enough, but Kenneth Dixon didn’t earn any pats on the back for his effort to bring Beasley down. Dixon did finish with 37 rushing yards in only his second game of the last two seasons.

7. Between Michael Pierce destroying a double team on the fourth-and-1 stop in the second quarter and Brandon Williams pressuring Ryan on Tavon Young’s fumble return for a touchdown, the defense received excellent play from its two mountains in the middle.

8. The two-minute drill resulting in a field goal late in the first half wasn’t pretty and was even head-scratching toward the end, but it was good to see Jackson operate that scoring drive as fair questions persist about what this offense will do if required to go into catch-up mode.

9. With Austin Hooper’s late score, the Ravens have now allowed a touchdown catch to a tight end in five of the last six games. I’m sure Kansas City’s Travis Kelce will bring some restless nights for Wink Martindale this week.

10. Chris Moore finished with more offensive snaps than John Brown and Michael Crabtree while Buck Allen only played on special teams in Atlanta. This offense sure has changed quickly, hasn’t it?

11. Sam Koch being a career 5-for-5 passer for 69 yards is one of the cooler stat lines in team history. The 13th-year punter is a good athlete and doesn’t get enough credit for how good he’s been for a long time. He throws a pretty ball, too.

12. How often do you see a 14-play drive lasting more than eight minutes result in a not-exactly-a-gimme 45-yard field goal? As I wrote earlier this week, embrace the weirdness. Maybe that should be this team’s new hashtag the rest of the way.

Comments (0)

jackson

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Time has come for Ravens to embrace the weirdness

Posted on 03 December 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are weird.

Very weird.

There’s nothing conventional about possessing the ball for more than 24 minutes in the second half or running nearly twice as often as you pass in today’s NFL. You don’t plan for your punter to make the best throw of the day or your starting quarterback to fumble three times and pass for 125 yards in your biggest road game of the season to date.

But that all happened as the Ravens won — again.

Nothing about this is ideal, nor should it be viewed as any kind of long-term blueprint for talented rookie Lamar Jackson, who is an electric runner with a long way to go to become an all-around franchise quarterback. To be clear, that’s to be expected after only three starts, but his athleticism and upside cannot dismiss concerns about ball security, a shortage of plays in the passing game, inconsistent mechanics and accuracy, and not doing the little things such as throwing the ball away instead of taking a loss. If nothing else, we can all agree Jackson running more often than he passes is not a recipe for keeping him healthy for the long haul, a reality that shouldn’t be completely ignored in the present.

In a perfect world, a healthy Joe Flacco would be under center as the Ravens make their December push for the playoffs. The 33-year-old would have a strong running game in the conventional sense, a stout and healthy offensive line, and wide receivers who consistently gain separation and catch the football to allow him to potentially channel past postseason success.

But that’s not reality, which is why Jackson’s skill set is the better fit for what the Ravens have become over the last three weeks in which they’ve gone from a 4-5 team circling the drain to one holding the No. 6 spot in the AFC and just a half-game behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North. A healthy Flacco and a more conventional offense may have also won three straight against struggling teams, but we can’t say that for sure, making it a difficult sell to a rejuvenated locker room that you’re just going to pivot back toward the hypothetical.

Perhaps the rise of Gus Edwards and bye-week adjustments would have led to a better running game with Flacco at quarterback than what we saw with running back Alex Collins over the first half of the season, but we’ve watched the Ravens rush for a remarkable 716 yards over the last three weeks with Jackson’s speed putting incredible pressure on opposing run defenses. Baltimore ran for just 834 yards over its first nine games, and no one could objectively argue that the ground game would be as explosive with an immobile quarterback on the field these last three weeks.

That’s more of a knock on the front office and coaching staff for not being able to field a productive running game by conventional measures, but here we are going into Week 14. Giving yourself the best chance to win in December isn’t about what’s fair to any individual player — even one who won you a Super Bowl several years ago.

It’s time to embrace the weirdness and let it ride in a way similar to how Brian Billick embraced “the dark side” on the way to an eventual Super Bowl win 18 years ago. As head coach John Harbaugh said after Sunday’s 26-16 win in Atlanta, no one really knows exactly where this is going, which should make it fun.

Perhaps the best way to describe what the Ravens have become is a warped version of that 2000 team. This defense doesn’t compare to that historic unit, of course, but holding the league’s 11th-ranked scoring offense to 131 yards and nine points — Jackson’s second fumble resulted in the other Falcons touchdown — was a terrific road performance. No one is ready to confuse Edwards with a young Jamal Lewis, but the rookie free agent’s 5.0 yards per carry and physical style have been a godsend. And if Jackson can limit the turnovers, he at least represents a much more athletic version of Trent Dilfer for now.

None of that is to suggest the Ravens fit the profile of a team poised to make a deep run in January. They might lose by three touchdowns in Kansas City this Sunday, but you could have said the same about the struggling team we saw before the bye week. The Ravens’ best chance — even if still not a good one — is to play keep-away from Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs offense while hoping their own offense becomes more efficient inside the opponent’s 30, something that remains a pressing concern.

Unforeseen circumstances have led to the Ravens discovering a nightmare-inducing running game that’s allowed them to dominate the time of possession, proving the opportunity for the defense to be fresher late in games. The Chiefs will offer the ultimate test as we continue to wonder how long this approach can be sustained. A disastrous performance could lead to reassessing — especially if Flacco is fully healthy and looks good in practice — but we said the same thing last week before Baltimore recorded only its second December road win in the last four years.

There will be plenty of time to debate what Jackson will ultimately become, but keeping him on the field does add the long-term benefit of him gaining experience while the Ravens try to “weird” their way to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

It’s time to just go with it and enjoy the ride.

Comments (1)

dixon

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Falcons: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 02 December 2018 by Luke Jones

With Joe Flacco inactive for the third straight week, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson will take his show on the road for the Ravens.

The 2018 first-round pick from Louisville will make the first away start of his career as the Ravens try to extend their two-game winning streak and improve their playoff positioning with a victory in Atlanta. A win and a solid performance very well could mean Jackson keeping the starting job despite Flacco (right hip) returning to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday.

As expected, running back Kenneth Dixon is active and will play for the first time since Week 1. Dixon was activated from injured reserve on Saturday as former starter Alex Collins was placed on IR with a foot injury. Despite being listed as questionable with an ankle injury, Gus Edwards will make his second straight start and is aiming for his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game, something no Baltimore running back has accomplished since Justin Forsett in 2014.

Slot cornerback Tavon Young will make his return after missing last week’s game with a groin injury. That’s a positive development for a defense trying to slow the Falcons’ fourth-ranked passing attack.

With Tony Jefferson out with an ankle injury, second-year safety Chuck Clark will make his first NFL start.

A surprising healthy scratch was fullback and defensive lineman Patrick Ricard, who had played 16 offensive snaps in each of the last two games. However, the Ravens could easily use blocking tight ends Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams to account for those fullback snaps.

The Falcons have the daunting task of slowing a Baltimore rushing attack that’s collected more than 500 rushing yards over the last two weeks, but the return of 2017 Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones is significant. Jones hasn’t played since injuring his foot in Week 1.

The referee for Sunday’s game is Brad Allen.

With the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium scheduled to be open for the 1 p.m. kickoff, the Weather.com forecast in Atlanta calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70 degrees with winds five to 10 miles per hour and a 20-percent chance of rain.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys with black pants while Atlanta dons its red jerseys and white pants for Week 13.

Sunday marks the sixth all-time meeting between these teams with Baltimore holding a slight 3-2 advantage. The Falcons held a 2-1 home advantage at the Georgia Dome, but the Ravens are playing at their new stadium for the first time.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
QB Joe Flacco
S Tony Jefferson
OT James Hurst
LB Tim Williams
FB/DL Patrick Ricard
DL Zach Sieler
WR Jordan Lasley

ATLANTA
K Giorgio Tavecchio
RB Brian Hill
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
S Keith Tandy
S Ryan Neal
DE Steven Means
OT Matt Gono

Comments (0)

edwards

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Falcons: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 01 December 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens holding a 6-5 record going into December is very familiar territory.

For the third straight year, John Harbaugh’s team is a game above .500 and occupying a playoff spot going into the final month of the season. But we know how that turned out the last two seasons, and the Ravens now begin a daunting stretch of three road games over the next four weeks.

Atlanta has dropped to 4-7 after a three-game losing streak, but Baltimore’s only December road victory over the last three seasons came against winless Cleveland last year. In other words, the Ravens have no reason to feel overconfident against a team circling the drain in the NFC playoff race.

It’s time to go on the record as these teams meet for just the sixth time in the all-time regular-season series. The Ravens hold a 3-2 advantage, but they were 1-2 at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons’ former home before Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened last year.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. Gus Edwards will rush for over 100 yards for the third consecutive game. Alex Collins going to injured reserve reinforces what we already knew: Edwards is the No. 1 guy. Much was made about the poor Cincinnati and Oakland defenses the last two weeks, but Edwards will now face a Falcons defense ranking 25th in rushing yards allowed and 30th in yards per carry allowed (5.1). Atlanta will sell out to limit Lamar Jackson’s rushing opportunities, which will allow Edwards to become the first Ravens running back since Justin Forsett in 2014 to eclipse the century mark in three consecutive contests.

2. Julio Jones will catch a touchdown despite being held under 100 yards for the first time since Week 5. It’ll be fascinating to see how the Ravens approach Jones and whether Marlon Humphrey or Jimmy Smith travels with him — likely with some safety help. You don’t stop a generational talent like Jones, who has registered at least six catches and 100 yards in six straight games, but the goal is preventing him from wrecking the game. The problem will be accounting for Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu in the process. Jones will find the end zone for only the fourth time this season.

3. Two turnovers will overshadow an otherwise solid day for Jackson in his first road start. There is much to like about the rookie, but a road game provides new challenges for a young quarterback that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Ravens will again lean heavily on the run, but a better opposing offense will force Jackson into more passing spots late. Protecting the football is even more critical on the road, but Jackson has tossed three interceptions and experienced a couple hiccups at the mesh point of zone-read handoffs. Similar miscues will be costly and offset some impressive moments.

4. The Baltimore defense will surrender a late touchdown pass to Falcons tight end Austin Hooper. An opposing tight end has caught a touchdown against the Ravens in four of the last five games, and Hooper is capable enough of causing some problems as the secondary tries to slow such a talented wide receiver trio. How Ravens safeties and linebackers handle Hooper and running back Tevin Coleman as a receiver out of the backfield will be a substantial key. Chuck Clark filling in for the injured Tony Jefferson doesn’t bring a major drop-off at safety, but Matt Ryan will find Hooper in a critical spot.

5. The recent history of December struggles will continue as the Ravens fall 27-20 to Atlanta. In case you were wondering, I’d still be picking the Falcons if a healthy Joe Flacco was under center this week. I don’t expect the environment to be too big for Jackson, but lost in the hype of a revamped running game is the fact that the Ravens scored four offensive touchdowns at home against two dreadful defenses, which isn’t particularly impressive. Perhaps the Falcons have quit after three straight losses, but their offense is too talented on paper to continue to underperform, especially with extra rest after a Thanksgiving night game. On the flip side, the Baltimore defense has a total of two takeaways and six sacks over its last five games and just doesn’t make enough dynamic plays despite its impressive statistical profile. The Ravens offense is an underwhelming 4-for-8 inside the red zone the last two weeks, and Baltimore ranks 22nd in red-zone defense entering Week 13. That area of the field will be the difference in a tight game.

Comments (0)

collins

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens place Collins on IR, activate running back Dixon

Posted on 01 December 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens have made a substantial change to their backfield depth ahead of Sunday’s game at Atlanta.

Former starting running back Alex Collins has been placed on injured reserve to make room for the activation of running back Kenneth Dixon, who had been on IR since suffering a knee injury in the Week 1 win over Buffalo. Dixon was designated to return to practice two weeks ago and is in line to play in just his second game in the last two seasons as Baltimore aims for its third straight win against the Falcons in Week 13.

Collins was listed as a full participant in Friday’s practice, but the third-year back had been dealing with a foot injury since before the bye week and was deactivated for last week’s win over Oakland. Despite rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson’s dramatic impact on the running game, Collins rushed for just 18 yards on seven carries against Cincinnati two weeks ago while rookie Gus Edwards impressively ran for 115 yards to all but officially win the starting job moving forward.

“It’s just day-to-day with Alex right now as far as I know,” head coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday. “That’s where we’re at with that.”

One of the feel-good stories of 2017 after emerging from the practice squad to rush for 973 yards and average 4.6 yards per carry, Collins never got on track this season as he averaged 3.6 yards per carry despite a team-high eight touchdowns. He will be a restricted free agent, leaving the Ravens with an interesting decision in an offseason expected to bring substantial changes to the roster.

A 2016 fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, the talented Dixon has seen the start of his NFL career derailed by injuries and off-field issues. After running for 382 yards and averaging 4.3 yards per carry in 12 games as a rookie, Dixon missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and also served two drug-related suspensions. He rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the 2018 opener against Buffalo before hurting his knee and being placed on IR a few days later.

With Edwards and veteran Ty Montgomery recently emerging as a formidable 1-2 punch in Baltimore’s revamped rushing attack, Dixon will need to stay healthy to provide viable depth in a running back group that also includes Buck Allen.

Comments (0)

flacco

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flacco doubtful, Jefferson out for Ravens game in Atlanta

Posted on 30 November 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite returning to practice this week, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is expected to miss his third straight game against Atlanta on Sunday.

The 11th-year veteran was officially listed as doubtful after being a limited participant in workouts on Thursday and Friday, meaning rookie Lamar Jackson is poised to make his third straight start and first on the road. When asked if Flacco was an option for Week 13 before the final injury report was released, head coach John Harbaugh provided an interesting assessment of Baltimore’s quarterback situation moving forward.

“I’d say yes, he’s an option. There are still doctors involved at this point,” said Harbaugh, who added that Flacco is progressing well and looked better on Friday than he did Thursday. “I think the biggest thing … I was thinking of the best way to describe this because it’s not simple. It’s never as simple as one rule or one cliché as we’ve talked about before, but there’s a formula involved. I think the biggest things with situations like this are the two biggest factors, [which] are time and circumstances. Those are things we just don’t know. Time in terms of the medical aspect of it. Circumstances in terms of our team and where we’re at and how guys are playing, including the players involved.

“To me, it’s like any other position that way. It just gets more attention because it’s the quarterback. We’ll see where we’re at as we go.”

A strong performance from Jackson against the Falcons could very well mean Flacco not regaining the job he’s held for more than a decade in Baltimore.

Starting safety Tony Jefferson was officially ruled out with a left ankle injury, meaning second-year safety Chuck Clark will make his first NFL start. Jefferson left last Sunday’s win over Oakland and missed practices all week. It will be the first game he’s missed since joining the Ravens last year.

Despite returning to practice on a limited basis this week, veteran offensive lineman James Hurst was listed as doubtful and will miss his sixth consecutive game with a back injury as rookie Orlando Brown Jr. will continue to man the right tackle spot. Hurst hasn’t played since the Week 6 win over Tennessee, but the Ravens are hopeful that he could play against Kansas City in Week 14.

“James has looked good. He will not be ready to play in the game,” Harbaugh said. “He just needs more time on task in terms of practice and getting back in the weight room and all those things, but I’d say next week would be a legitimate chance for him. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for that.”

Slot cornerback Tavon Young is questionable to play after missing last week’s game and practicing only on a limited basis all week. His potential absence would mean more inside opportunities for veteran Brandon Carr, who handled the bulk of the nickel snaps against the Raiders.

Running backs Gus Edwards (ankle) and Alex Collins (foot) were both listed as questionable after practicing fully, leaving questions about the possibility of Kenneth Dixon being activated to shore up the backfield depth for Week 13. The third-year running back has been on injured reserve since hurt his knee in Week 1 and was designated to return to practice two weeks ago.

Baltimore is already carrying four running backs on the roster with Edwards, Collins, Ty Montgomery, and Buck Allen and isn’t required to make a decision on Dixon’s roster status for another week.

“Just being ready to go and being healthy and ready to go and knowing the offense — all things that go into being ready to go,” Harbaugh said. “He’s real close. We’ll see. I think he’s also an option for Sunday, and we’ll see if he’s out there or not. We’d have to make the roster work as well.”

Atlanta did not list anyone on its final game status report as kicker Matt Bryant (back) returned to practice on a limited basis after a two-day absence and 2017 Pro Bow linebacker Deion Jones practiced fully. Jones is expected to play for the first time since injuring his foot in the 2018 season opener.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: S Tony Jefferson (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: QB Joe Flacco (right hip), OT James Hurst (back)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Alex Collins (foot), RB Gus Edwards (ankle), DB Anthony Levine (ankle), LB Tim Williams (illness), CB Tavon Young (groin)

Comments (0)

edwards-jackson

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Red zone even more critical for revamped Ravens entering December

Posted on 30 November 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are zigging while everyone else zags entering December.

In a season in which Seattle is the only NFL team running the ball more often than not (50.58 percent), Baltimore has run on 96 of its 144 plays — exactly two-thirds — over the last two games, resulting in wins over Cincinnati and Oakland to improve to 6-5 and move back into the No. 6 spot in the AFC. The Ravens had rushed just 36.15 percent of the time prior to their Week 10 bye when it was revealed veteran quarterback Joe Flacco would miss action with a hip injury. The dramatic shift in style figures to continue this week in Atlanta with Flacco officially doubtful after only returning to practice on a limited basis Thursday and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson preparing to make his third straight start.

Over the last two weeks, the Ravens have increased their usage of the pistol formation and heavy sets featuring two running backs and two tight ends, which aren’t featured all that frequently in today’s NFL. Jackson’s remarkable mobility has put pressure on opposing defenses to account for two potential ball carriers in zone-read looks and run-pass options. That’s helped Jackson and rookie running back Gus Edwards rush for a combined 423 yards over the last two weeks. The entire Baltimore offense didn’t rush for that many yards over the final four games — three of them losses — before the bye.

The unconventional approach in a pass-happy league has led many to ask whether it’s sustainable as the Ravens try to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2014. It won’t be easy as John Harbaugh’s team plays three of its next four games on the road and the three away opponents — the Falcons, Kansas City, and the Los Angeles Chargers — possess offenses ranking in the top six in total yards per game and the top 11 in points per game.

Critics have fairly noted that the Bengals and Raiders have surrendered the most rushing yards in the NFL this year, but the Falcons and Chiefs rank even worse in yards per carry allowed. That’s why many believe the Ravens should stick with Jackson and their newfound approach in an effort to exploit bad run defenses and control the time of possession to limit the possessions for those explosive offenses. Over the last two weeks, the Ravens have possessed the ball more than 72 minutes compared to under 48 minutes for their opponents, an advantage the league’s top-ranked scoring defense certainly has appreciated.

However, the impressive rushing totals and big advantage in time of possession haven’t yet resulted in the offense scoring a tremendous number of points. Entering Week 11, the Ravens were averaging 23.7 points per game and scored 24 against the Bengals, who sport the worst defense in the league and have surrendered 34 or more in each of their other four contests since mid-October. Baltimore scored 34 points in last week’s win over Oakland, but that total was aided by Cyrus Jones’ punt return for a touchdown and Terrell Suggs’ fumble return for a score, which a team isn’t getting every week.

The two offensive touchdowns per game over the last two weeks would rank 26th in the NFL for the season and lags behind the 2.67 per contest registered from Weeks 1-9. Ideally, the run-heavy attack leads to longer drives to keep the opposing offense off the field, but that also means fewer possessions for yourself, making red-zone efficiency that much more important. The Ravens have scored touchdowns on only four of their eight trips inside the 20 over the last two games after entering Week 11 tied for ninth in the NFL at 66.7 percent.

That 50-percent mark was able to cut it playing bad teams at home, but it won’t on the road against teams with top 10-caliber offenses. Relying too much on field goals with fewer overall possessions simply won’t add up.

“I have to do better, we have to do better, all of those things, but yes, it’s big,” said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg about red-zone efficiency. “We’ve put a little focus on that, just a little bit here, and we will do so [Thursday] and [Friday] as well on that part of the game. … It’s so important, especially if you don’t have all that many possessions. It becomes even more heightened.”

Unlike next week’s trip to Kansas City that will be a tall order no matter who’s at quarterback, Sunday should represent a reasonable challenge for the Ravens in Jackson’s first road start. Though the Falcons are coming off extended rest, they’ve also lost three straight games in which they’ve failed to score 20 points even once. Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn does have experience game-planning for a similar style of quarterback after the former Seattle defensive coordinator went up against San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick multiple times in the NFC West, but his current defense is allowing a brutal 5.1 yards per rushing attempt and 27.9 points per game while ranking 30th in the red zone (73.2 percent).

At the same time, the Falcons still possess an offense more dangerous than either of Baltimore’s last two opponents and have averaged 400 yards and 25.5 points per game this season. Ravens players and coaches are realistic about Atlanta’s ability to move the ball between the 20s, but a defense with superb numbers in most other categories ranks an underwhelming 22nd in red-zone touchdown percentage.

There are no guarantees with a rookie quarterback making his first road start as Jackson will face challenges not experienced in his home stadium. The Ravens must not only run the ball effectively to control the clock, but they must finish off those long drives with touchdowns to back up a defense that hasn’t created many turnovers or collected many sacks over the last five games. In turn, that defense must buckle down inside the 20 more than it has against better offenses this season.

“Just like I’ve told our [defensive backs], there are going to be some plays made,” defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. “It’s just how are we going to handle the series of events?”

For the revamped Ravens feeling new life entering December, their playoff hopes could begin and end with how they fare inside the red zone on both sides of the ball.

Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 1.32.54 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Flacco returns to field for first time since Nov. 4

Posted on 29 November 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Thursday brought a significant development to the Ravens quarterback situation as veteran Joe Flacco practiced for the first time since injuring his right hip on Nov. 4.

The 33-year-old threw passes and practiced handoffs along with rookie Lamar Jackson and veteran backup Robert Griffin III as Baltimore practiced indoors ahead of Sunday’s game at Atlanta. To little surprise, Flacco was limited as he took part in his first practice in nearly four weeks.

Given the length of his absence and his inability to practice fully this week, Flacco still appears unlikely to play against the Falcons, but head coach John Harbaugh has not yet named a starting quarterback for Week 13. Should he receive the nod, Jackson would be making his first career road start after leading the Ravens to wins over Cincinnati and Oakland the last two weeks.

Reports earlier in the week indicated Baltimore planned to start Jackson in Atlanta since Flacco hadn’t yet been fully cleared by doctors.

“There’s a process involved, and it has to do with the doctors and trainers and his rehab,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday. “He’s progressing very well; I can tell you that. He’s doing well, and there will be another step today and tomorrow and the day after that, and we’ll see where we’re at.”

Flacco wasn’t the only key player to return to practice on Thursday as rookie running back Gus Edwards was participating after sitting out Wednesday with an ankle injury. Since Edwards had spoken to reporters the previous day, there was little legitimate concern regarding his status.

Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (illness) and Tavon Young (groin), running back Alex Collins (foot), defensive back Anthony Levine (ankle), and outside linebacker Tim Williams were all present after sitting out Wednesday’s practice.

Safety Tony Jefferson remained sidelined with a left ankle injury sustained in last Sunday’s win over the Raiders. Second-year safety Chuck Clark would start in his place if Jefferson is forced to miss his first game of the season.

Wide receiver John Brown also sat out Thursday’s practice and has received occasional veteran days off over the course of the season.

Veteran offensive lineman James Hurst (back) practiced on a limited basis for a second straight day as he tries to return to the lineup after a five-game absence.

Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (foot) practiced on a limited basis once again as optimism remains that he will return to action for the first time since Week 1. Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant missed his second straight day of practice with a back issue.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR John Brown (non-injury), S Tony Jefferson (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Alex Collins (foot), RB Gus Edwards (ankle), QB Joe Flacco (right hip), OT James Hurst (back), DB Anthony Levine (ankle), CB Tavon Young (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Michael Crabtree (non-injury), CB Jimmy Smith (illness), S Eric Weddle (non-injury), LB Tim Williams (illness), G Marshal Yanda (non-injury)

ATLANTA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: K Matt Bryant (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LS Josh Harris (hip), S Kemal Ishmael (knee), LB Deion Jones (foot), WR Calvin Ridley (anke/elbow)
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Brian Poole (finger)

Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 6.47.07 AM

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Flacco reportedly not cleared as Ravens plan to start Jackson again

Posted on 28 November 2018 by WNST Staff

What was expected to be a red-hot quarterback debate for the Ravens this week may not be one at all.

According to NFL Network, veteran starter Joe Flacco did not receive clearance for his injured right hip upon seeing a doctor on Monday, which will likely pave the way for rookie Lamar Jackson to make his third straight start as Baltimore travels to Atlanta on Sunday. Flacco’s status could change in the coming days, but it would be difficult for him to be ready to play against the Falcons without a full week of practice, leaving the Ravens to plan to go with Jackson yet again.

Flacco hasn’t played or practiced since injuring his right hip in the Week 9 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 4.

“My understanding with that injury is the biggest criteria is the protection of the hip, the hip’s ability to protect itself,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who added there was risk of a dislocation if Flacco returns too soon. “It has to be strong and stable in terms of all those things. There’s no big tear in there that I’m aware that they told me, but the hip has to be strong and not agitated for Joe to be able to protect himself. And that’s the concern is just Joe’s safety with the injury, and that’s why it’s an opinion. That’s why the doctor has to decide. It’s not like a hamstring or something where you say, ‘It’s this degree healed or not.’ They just have to look at it and say, ‘OK, it’s good.’”

With Jackson under center, the Ravens have run for an impressive 507 yards in the process of reeling off two straight home wins over Cincinnati and Oakland to move into the No. 6 spot in the AFC, but this would mark the rookie first-round pick’s first career road start.

Comments (0)

superbowl

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens narrowly avoided Atlanta’s fate four years ago

Posted on 06 February 2017 by Luke Jones

The Atlanta Falcons are predictably the butt of many jokes after surrendering the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history on Sunday night.

Coughing up a 25-point lead in the second half will do that to you, but Ravens fans should pause a moment or two before piling on Matt Ryan and company with too much enthusiasm. After all, Baltimore nearly suffered a similar fate in Super Bowl XLVII four years ago.

No one will forget the image of Joe Flacco raising the first Vince Lombardi Trophy or Ray Lewis celebrating the euphoric conclusion of his “last ride” in New Orleans, but the Ravens came dangerously close to squandering a 22-point lead in the second half. Such a notion felt impossible after Jacoby Jones’ 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the third quarter, but San Francisco finally found its offense while the Ravens offense couldn’t run and managed only two field goals in the second half.

It didn’t take long for a comfortable 28-6 lead to become a heart-stopping affair.

You can blame the Superdome blackout if you’d like, but a defense led by Lewis and Ed Reed at the end of their careers gave up three second-half touchdowns and a field goal, which is exactly what the Falcons did before the Patriots marched down the field for the winning touchdown in overtime.

Just imagine how differently we’d view Super Bowl XLVII had Jimmy Smith been flagged on fourth-and-goal from the 5 or the 49ers hadn’t forgotten over their final four plays inside the 10 that Frank Gore was gashing a Baltimore front playing without the injured Haloti Ngata. Of course, unlike the Falcons, the Ravens were able to make a few plays to protect their narrow lead in the end, and that’s all that matters.

Super Bowl LI reminded us that you should never count out the New England Patriots and that the margin between winning and losing can be so razor thin. It also might help to run the ball when you’re protecting a 28-20 lead and are comfortably in field-goal range with under five minutes remaining.

But before mocking Atlanta too much, remember that the Ravens nearly became the Falcons four years ago and breathe a quick sigh of relief that a storybook ending didn’t turn into a nightmare.

** Many Ravens fans predictably went to social media to use Sunday’s result as validation for Flacco being better than Ryan — a tired debate that needs to end — but I’d hardly pin that loss on the quarterback as much as I would on the offensive play-calling of Kyle Shanahan and a defense that couldn’t stop a nosebleed in the second half.

Regardless, Flacco and the Ravens have a lot of work to do to give fans something more current to brag about. Even with the fallout of a devastating Super Bowl defeat, Ryan and the Falcons have a lot more going for them right now.

** After watching his limitations as a pass rusher with just five total sacks in his four seasons in Baltimore, Courtney Upshaw collecting the first quarterback takedown of Super Bowl LI wasn’t what I expected to see.

The former Ravens linebacker added weight to play on the Falcons defensive line this year, and that sack was his only tackle of the postseason.

** Every organization and fan base would love to be the Patriots, but Ravens director of public relations Patrick Gleason offered some perspective hours before Sunday’s kickoff in Houston.

It’s understandable to be discouraged by the Ravens missing the playoffs in three of the last four years and improvements certainly need to be made from top to bottom, but this organization has built up a ton of equity over the last two decades and is still just four years removed from winning the ultimate prize. Relative to most teams around the NFL, the Ravens have spoiled their fans for a long time, which isn’t easy to do.

Comments Off on Ravens narrowly avoided Atlanta’s fate four years ago