Ravens should ignore Flacco's pass-happy suggestions

In Sunday's win over St. Louis, the Ravens took what their opponent gave them.

The Rams' defense made an effort to stop the run and played tight press coverage on Baltimore's outside receivers, so the Ravens threw the ball, threw it deep and threw it often.

The result was a dominant passing performance, with quarterback Joe Flacco dropping back to pass over 50 times and putting up 389 yards through the air in a 37-7 Ravens win.

After the game, Flacco told reporters that he was a fan of the aerial attack, and wants to see more of that pass-happy play-calling in the future.

"I always think to myself, 'Look at the top teams in this league, what are they?' They're passing teams," Flacco said. "Can they run the ball? Yeah, but they really throw the ball very well and run the ball off that. They're not just the top offenses, they're the top teams. Is the goal getting to the playoffs for us? No ... we know we can do that. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. In order to do that, you have to (throw the ball well). When you have a defense like ours ... you shouldn't be grinding out games 14-7 every week. We need to come out here and be aggressive and put it on teams."

You have to appreciate Flacco's enthusiasm, especially when he so rarely comes out and publicly expresses his opinion on the Ravens' offensive strategy.

Joe_Flacco_Home.jpgBut is throwing the ball 48 times a game really the approach which will get the Ravens to the Promised Land? I don't think so.

The fact that Baltimore has two speedy receivers in Lee Evans and Torrey Smith who have shown the ability to take the top off the defense is big, but those guys won't be able to just sprint past press coverage every week.

Now that teams have seen what Smith brings to the table at the NFL level and how the Ravens plan to use him, they'll adjust. Flacco will face much tougher secondaries than St. Louis' down the road, and the rest of the league now has tape on how the Ravens were able to have so much success through the air.

Flacco isn't Tom Brady. He doesn't yet have the ability to consistently put up 375 yards passing week-in and week-out, and as much as it might be fun for him to lead a pass-dominated attack, that's not where the Ravens will find consistent success.

They will find success because teams must respect the vertical elements in the Ravens' passing game, which will take some pressure off Ray Rice. The Ravens can pound the rock on the ground with their physical rushing game, and utilize the ever-effective check-downs to Rice to pick up extra yardage.

"To see (the big passing plays) happen is a big plus for us, because it opens up the check downs, it opens up the crossing routes, it opens up the run game," Harbaugh said. "(The Rams) were defending the run, there's no question. I think they expected us to come out running the ball, too. So, they gave us looks that were not great against the run but good against the pass. So, what we had to do was beat those guys out there one-on-one. Those young receivers stepped up and did it."

That's what worked on Sunday, but it won't work every week. Teams will still focus in on Rice, but they'll now give Smith more of a cushion, and opposing safeties will be very aware of his and Evans' ability to turn on the jets and work deep down the field.

The Ravens will win with a balanced offensive scheme, featuring shots down the field, short passes to their sure-handed receiving options and power running behind fullback Vonta Leach.

Flacco might be pining for more afternoons where he puts the ball in the air 45-plus times, but he should soak in last Sunday's performance. There probably won't be too many more like it.

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