GRAPEVINE: Flacco injury a factor in Philly?

Lombardi's Way GRAPEVINE: Flacco injury a factor in Philly?

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After looking like a world-beater while directing the Ravens fast break offense on Opening Night against the Bengals, Joe Flacco inconsistencies on the road reared their ugly heads when the team visited The Linc last Sunday.

The Ravens failed to make second half adjustments while encountering the double man approach the Eagles used in their secondary. Besides the questionable play calling, there may be a reason why Flacco struggled to find the strike zone – a rib injury.

Word is that during the first play of the second half, Joe took a shot that may have affected his accuracy in the second half. Granted the offense’s failure to make proper adjustments is at least partly to blame but let’s face it, a 35.4 QB rating after the break is pathetically inconsistent with Flacco’s performances thus far in 2012. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots put a bulls-eye on No. 5’s rib cage.

Part of Flacco’s problem last Sunday was the protection up front. It appears the Ravens have assembled a line that consists of players conditioned properly for the no huddle attack. That explains the sudden demotion of LT Bryant McKinnie and LG Bobbie Williams, neither of which is a poster child for P90X.

During Week 1 the Ravens kept the pedal to the metal throughout the contest and that may have masked some of the line deficiencies that were apparent in Week 2 when the Ravens slowed down the attack. Michael Oher, Ramon Harewood and Kelechi Osemele all struggled greatly.

Flacco’s toughness is underrated and that may be due to his low-key demeanor. Yet his durability and dependability leave little doubt that beneath that youthful schoolboy non-swagger, there lies one resilient S.O.B.

But what if Joe does go down even if only for a portion of a game?

The guess here is that the near polar opposite style of backup Tyrod Taylor will catch an unprepared opponent off guard for the balance of a single game but after that, the pressure falls on the Ravens. Not only would Cam Cameron have to adapt a more tailored (pun intended) game plan, all of the offensive pieces would also have to adapt to Taylor. And that’s much easier said than done.

Speaking of adapting, the Ravens need to do something to improve their efficiency on third and short. Too often we find Joe Flacco lined up in the shotgun with an empty backfield, taking short drops and forcing the ball into the outside flats. Defenses compress the line of scrimmage and shut down passing lanes.

On third and 3 or less since the 2010 season, Joe Flacco has a QB rating of 35.4, going 12 for 33 for 124 yards, no scores and 1 INT. This season Flacco is 1 of 5 in such situations for -5 yards.

Conversely Ray Rice since the start of the 2010 campaign has 26 carries for 179 yards, 6.9 ypc and 3 TD’s. Are you paying attention Cam?

Turning our attention towards Sunday Night the game pits two of the best in the business following a loss. The Ravens have the league’s longest winning streak following a loss (13 in a row) while the Patriots own the NFL’s best winning percentage (.875) following a loss since 2008. So something has to give.

Looking back to last season the single-most disrupted force on the field during the AFC Championship Game was Patriots’ DT Vince Wilfork. Being back at home where Flacco shines, it would be borderline shocking if the Ravens choose not to run their no-huddle offense, perhaps better than any weapon the Ravens have to neutralize Wilfork.

On the other side of the ball and given the Ravens inability to get pressure on the quarterback and their seemingly porous intermediate pass coverage, it would be naïve to think that Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker wouldn’t have big games.

This one has the makings of a shoot out but under the bright lights at home, it’s hard to pick against the Ravens. The hometown crowd gets home in the early morning with smiles on their faces. RAVENS 31 PATRIOTS 27

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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