From an outsider’s perspective, John Harbaugh certainly doesn’t seem overly concerned at the moment that Joe Flacco is missing time. Flacco is entering his 10th season in the NFL, and he has as good an understanding of the offense as anyone within the organization. When asked about Flacco, Harbaugh expressed little worry over the issue.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Harbaugh said after yesterday’s practice. “Joe knows this offense. But still, there’s a rhythm, and chemistry and timing and execution that practice is valuable for.”
While Harbaugh is certainly correct about Flacco’s knowledge of the offense, he is wise not to minimize the importance of practice time as his team prepares for the season. 2017 offseason activities and training camp for the Ravens are a perfect example of how much teams value their preparation leading up to real games.
The Ravens have been decimated by injuries and at this point are probably taking a conservative approach by holding back some players, but they know the toll it’s taken on the team is a necessary risk to preparing for the season.
Some fans ask “why not just lower the intensity of practices?”
The reason is the NFL brings such a high level of athleticism and competitiveness that teams are forced to prepare players with vigorous practices in the preseason. If they don’t have that time, it stunts the chemistry of certain players, and that’s noticeable once the regular season begins.
Ravens fans need look no further than Breshad Perriman. Perriman – before injuring his hamstring – may be the player fans were most excited about. He was thriving in camp and attributed it largely to having his first full, healthy offseason. How many times did we hear that he felt more comfortable in the offense because he had an opportunity to take part in a full offseason of work?
Jeremy Maclin was arguably the Ravens’ biggest offseason addition. His contributions to the offense will be one of the biggest factors in whether or not the Ravens are able to return to the playoffs. However, Maclin and Flacco haven’t been on the field together yet in training camp. If Flacco’s injury lingers, the lack of practice will no doubt impact their production even if Flacco is ready for the beginning of the regular season. Chemistry between a wide receiver and a quarterback can be a tricky thing. There will be a learning curve and the time to learn each other’s tendencies is now, not in September.
Harbaugh has taken a frustrating approach for fans and media when it comes to addressing what he refers to as “short-term” injuries. But if Flacco’s injury ends up lingering, it could be a frustrating start to the regular season for the Ravens offense even if Flacco is ready to go in Week 1.
Joe may know the playbook as well as anyone on the team, but he needs to shake off the rust like everybody else and build chemistry with the new weapons he has. If he doesn’t have an opportunity to do that, expect a sloppy start to the season for the Ravens offense.
We’ll have to hope that defense is as dominant as it’s looked at times in training camp.
The Ravens will need it to carry them until the offense gets up to speed.