PiR: Flacco’s First “Meaningless” Game

Street Talk PiR: Flacco’s First “Meaningless” Game

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Reality: Another NFL season ends, and like every one recently, fans were frustrated with rules and officials all year long.

Perception: The NFL has too many rules and too many rules that don’t make sense. I have complained about these two rules for YEARS. But it seems like no one ever asks the NFL about it. There are two scenarios that make no sense, in terms of NFL rules.

#1 – Intentional Grounding

If a QB is in the pocket and throws a pass, while under pressure, with no eligible receiver around, it is intentional grounding. So why is spiking the ball to stop the clock not intentional grounding?

#2 – Runner breaking the plane for a touchdown

This is the one that really gets me. If you are catching a pass in the end zone, you need to catch the ball, get two feet down in the end zone, maintain control of the ball through the entire process as you go to the ground. BUT… if you are running the ball in the end zone, the very tip of the ball just needs to touch the tip of the white end zone line to score. Even if you fumble a tenth of a second later, it doesn’t matter because as soon as you “break the plane” of the goal line the play is dead. And, the runner doesn’t even need to have any body part in the end zone, just a portion of the ball to graze the white line.

Tell me how running the ball into the end zone and catching the ball in the end zone are not 100% contradictory. If the running rules applied to catching the ball, then Lee Evans has a catch a few years ago (Ravens fans know the one). If the catching rules applied to running the ball in, then Antonio Brown doesn’t score last Sunday and the Ravens win the division.

The NFL is screwy. They have WAY too many rules. They have so many details to their rules that they end up contradicting other rules.

Reality: Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has a contract through the 2017 season.

Perception: As any NFL coach is, Harbaugh has been a lightning rod for criticism of the Ravens. Many fans wanted him gone after missing the playoffs last year. All throughout the 2016 season, the volume of fans wanting Harbaugh gone has grown significantly. I have questioned Harbaugh more and more for what is going on with this team, especially offensively.

Still, the Ravens have succeeded since John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco took over. Steve Bisciotti is known to be patient and value consistency. As a result, I think Harbs is back next season.

I have plenty more to say about this subject – I wrote an entire article on it. Click here to read it.

Reality: Joe Flacco has the same number of pass attempts at Drew Brees.

Perception: That is NOT how the offense of a Ravens team should be run. Look back at the successful Ravens teams and you’ll find the ones that were led by a run-first offense with Priest Holmes, Jamal Lewis, and Ray Rice. The two seasons of Flacco’s career that he has the most attempts are two seasons the Ravens finished with their worst records since Flacco arrived in 2008 (not counting last season, when he missed part of the season with an injury). Shouldn’t that tell someone something? The fans seem to get it, but not the coaching staff.

Marc Trestman was fired in the middle of this season and word on the street was that it was because the Ravens wanted a more balanced offensive attack. Well, nothing changed after the OC change, but something needs to change for the team to be successful next season and beyond.

Teams that rushed the ball at least 33 times in a game won that game 86% of the time. That stat was very similar when Lewis and Rice were running the ball for the Ravens. When they did, the Ravens won. With the two-headed monster running attack the Ravens currently have, they should be running the ball at least 25 times per game. If they did, they would be in the playoffs.

Reality: Steve Smith Sr. said he is “89% sure” that Sunday will be his last game.

Perception: I continue to be amazed at the 37-year-old. His work ethic, his play on the field, his leadership. Being the same age as Smith, I know how a guy his age is supposed to feel. What he is doing defies age. It’s remarkable. The guy has not “lost a step.” In fact, some might say he means even more to the team than at any point in his career.

This week, Smith Sr. said with a smile that he was “89% sure” that Sunday would be his last game. But he also used the word “probably.” And when he says that his sons still want him to play, that might motivate him some to play again. However, last year was supposed to be his final season. And he is already packing up his house in Baltimore. That doesn’t sound like a guy on the fence with his decision.

What I do know is that he won’t be easy to replace. For a Ravens team that has struggled to find good receivers, the front office will probably need to go the route they have over the last decade… find a quality over-the-middle, tough guy, veteran free agent. Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, and Smith Sr. were all very similar as players and all were keys to the Ravens success on offense. Finding another one will not be so easy.

Reality: This is the 3rd time in 4 years that the Ravens have missed the playoffs

Perception: Most of the years that the Ravens miss out on the playoffs, they get eliminated after the Week 17 game. Last year, they were eliminated before that, but Flacco was injured the last few games, so this is the first time that he has played a meaningless game in his NFL career.

I remember last season, when their first meaningless game happened (with Flacco injured). I thought to myself, “well this is strange.” I watched the game but was not nearly as into as I normally would be. My wife enjoyed it a lot more, but I’m not sure that I did.

Ravens fans have had it good. The Ravens have made the playoffs in 10 of their 21 seasons in the NFL. Nearly 50% of the time, the Ravens make the playoffs. Think about that. The Buffalo Bills haven’t gone to the playoffs in 17 years. Cleveland in 14 years. The Rams in 12 years. The Jaguars and Bucs in nine years. Tennessee in eight years. The Jets and Bears in six years.

The Ravens, on average, go every other year. Here’s to 2017.

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Joe Polek

About Joe Polek

Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. He lived in Maine from 2001-2012, where he met his wife and had two daughters. He now resides in Columbia, SC where he has left TV/Radio and is the South Carolina Marketing Coordinator for Bojangles’ Restaurants. Joe is a huge sports fan, but most importantly he lives and breathes Baltimore (and Maryland) sports. He routinely gets back to Baltimore for a Ravens and Orioles game once a year. A couple of his highlights were being at the final game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, and also sitting in left field for “2130”, and “2131” (Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak).

Find Joe on Twitter @JoePolek.

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