Adam Schein from Sirius/XM NFL Radio and NFL.com is one of my favorite sports talking heads. I enjoy his rapport with co-host Rich Gannon, the way they handle interviews, their willingness to be self-deprecating and probably most of all their sense of humor.
But after reading this post on NFL.com by Schein, I wasn’t laughing. I actually felt a little embarrassed for Schein because the usually informed host came off rather uninformed.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t drink the Flac-Koolaid and I have concerns with No. 5 at times particularly within the uncomfortably limited parameters of Cam Cameron’s offense.
But Schein was just flat out wrong on several levels and therefore I’ve decided to dissect in a Point v. Counterpoint presentation with me being the counter and the not so shiny Schein on point…
I never have trusted Flacco. Right now, it looks like I never will.
Sure, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback played great against the New England Patriots in the AFC title game last season. If receiver Lee Evans had been able to hold on to the ball, maybe we would all have a different perspective of Flacco.
But he’s been very ordinary this year. There’s likely a reason that the super-savvy Ravens organization has seemed reluctant to give a new deal to Flacco, even though he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013. He hasn’t taken his game or his team to the next level.
The wide disparity between Flacco’s productivity at home and on the road is clearly hard to explain. And while Flacco is hardly free from blame, those of us who observe the Ravens closely know that the team’s offensive inefficiencies on the road aren’t all on him. Equally at fault, arguably even more so, are offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and head coach John Harbaugh.
NFL Film’s Greg Cosell, an analyst who I know Schein holds in high regard, once had this to say on Sirius/XM NFL Radio about the Cameron’s offense in Baltimore:
“I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a group of receivers not be able to win v. man coverage than this group of receivers. And the way it works in the NFL, when your receivers don’t win v. man coverage, you don’t need a new quarterback. You need new receivers. That’s just the way it works in this league.
“The Ravens offense when you pop in the tape and see play after play after play, you feel like you are watching an offense out of the 1960’s. Every play there’s one WR to the left and one WR to the right. Normally Vonta Leach is in the game so you have 2 backs.
“They run all isolation routes. They do NOTHING with bunch concepts; stack release concepts; rub elements – NOTHING to help their receivers win v. man coverage. It’s an incredibly predictable offense from a personnel formation and play-calling standpoint. It’s not a difficult offense to defend.
“Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Joe Flacco is Tom Brady. But it’s a very difficult offense for a quarterback to be consistently successful. It’s easy after you see him get sacked that he held the ball. But he rarely has anywhere to throw the football.
“Look at a few of the catches from [the Divisional Game v. Houston]. They were all contested catches in one-on-one matchups on the perimeter – isolation routes on the perimeter. That’s what they do with receivers who struggle to get open.”
Adam, maybe you should trust Flacco a little more and Cameron and Harbaugh a little less.
Because these offensive struggles have been going on for no less than two years and Harbaugh has done nothing about it. Doing NOTHING in my book is a form of endorsement. In other words Harbaugh is an enabler of these offensive inadequacies.
You can listen to Greg Cosell’s interview on Sirius/XM here
Baltimore is 9-2. But who believes in the Ravens as a Super Bowl team? I don’t.
Did you think the New York Giants were a “Super Bowl team” when they fell to 7-7 last season after falling to the then 4-9 Redskins? In the era of parity it’s all about being in position to have a shot at the post season and being on the uptick when you take the dance floor.
Flacco was average at best (completing 30 of 51 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown) in Sunday’s squeaker of a win over the San Diego Chargers. Perhaps lost in the discussion of Ray Rice’s majestic 29-yard run after the catch on fourth-and-29 from his own 37 was the fact that Flacco checked down on fourth-and-29.
As the play unfolded I thought the same as you but given the fact that the Chargers dropped 7 in coverage against 4 Ravens receivers and with plenty of underneath real estate, if Tom Brady made that decision to check down, would you be as critical?
On my SiriusXM NFL Radio show in January, Ravens safety Ed Reed called out his quarterback. There was a reason for it. Flacco is not a difference-maker.
Ed Reed is a train wreck around the media and the frequency with which he changes his mind has probably inspired doctors who treat bipolar disorder to slip him their business cards. Ed’s teammates understand him. This was really a non-issue for the club but a lightning rod for the media. And they and you took full advantage of it.
The Ravens’ defense has not been the same sans injured players Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis, and the team needed Flacco to provide a boost. He has failed.
The Ravens are 4-1 since star defenders Webb and Lewis were lost to injuries. Prior to those injuries the Ravens yielded 19.7 points per game, since 20.2 PPG but only 14.5 PPG over the last 4 games. Prior to the injuries the Ravens yielded 396.7 yards per game; since 344.2 YPG.
While I’m not here to say that the Ravens defense is better without those players – they absolutely are not. But they have stepped up.
That said, I do think that the offense, the coaches and Flacco included, have to step up if the Ravens are to be Super Bowl contenders.
And right now they are contenders!