Tag Archives: Baltimore Ravens

Dropping the Ball: There Are No Good Guys in the Ray Rice Domestic Abuse Saga

9 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Janay and Ray Rice's press conference to explain spousal abuse incident in New Jersey.

Janay and Ray Rice’s press conference to explain spousal abuse incident in New Jersey.

PHILADELPHIA—As I observe the reaction to running back Ray Rice’s release from the Baltimore Ravens and indefinite suspension by the NFL , I’m left with the feeling that there are no heroes and nothing but villains in this sad drama.

The thing that brought about Rice’s termination from the Ravens was the video from that “paragon” of journalistic integrity—TMZ– that shows the former Rutgers star hitting his then fiancée Janay Palmer with a left hook that knocked her into a rail on the elevator and onto the floor unconscious. Rice then coldly drags an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator and shows no concern about her well-being.

I don’t care what the circumstances are. No man should ever hit a woman at all and definitely not with the kind of force that Rice used. You just can’t do that. He probably should have been arrested for felony assault.

I hope that Rice is undergoing some serious counseling and he should be thankful that he doesn’t have to behind bars, thanks to a pretrial intervention program. Rice’s record will be expunged after a year.

While I don’t think he should be out of the game forever, Rice should have been suspended beyond the two games suspension he was given. He should have been suspended anywhere from eight games to a year, similar to what New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick got for dog fighting.

If and when he ever gets back into the league, Rice should be made to speak to young men about the evils of domestic violence and make a contribution to help shelters that house battered women. He should want to do that himself.

Actually, the most aggrieved victim in this whole thing is Janay Palmer, who wound up “apologizing” for being a part of this incident as if she did something wrong. I don’t care what she did or said, she didn’t deserve to be hit. The worse thing we do in this society when it comes to domestic violence and rape is to blame the victim. That has to stop.

But there are a lot of things that bother me about this incident beyond Rice hitting his girlfriend and it involves all the people who are now distancing themselves from the now former Ravens star.

For one thing, didn’t the NFL have access to the full video? Didn’t NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell see that Palmer was out cold as Rice dragged her out like an overstuffed trash bag? How could he have given Rice just a two-game suspension after seeing even a little bit of that tape?
As they say in social media, I’m SMDH….(Shaking my damn head.)

You would think with all the resources the NFL has to investigate incidents like this that they would have found this video before TMZ. Atlantic City casinos have cameras everywhere. That the League and law enforcement officials somehow missed or overlooked this is simply astounding.

The outrage at Goodell and the NFL is justifiable because players had gotten longer suspensions to guys smoking marijuana and taking fertility drugs. For a lot of women, the slap on the wrist that Rice initially received spoke volumes about the NFL and its attitude toward domestic violence.Many said that it showed that hurting a dog would get you in more trouble than hurting a woman.

The outrage from women groups and bad PR for a league trying to appeal female sports fans forced Goodell to apply stricter penalties to players who commit acts of domestic violence.

Now with the latest video, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens gave him his unconditional release. But don’t think it was all about the Ravens or the league’s concern for women and domestic violence. The spin machine that is the NFL cares about one thing: “Protect the shield.”

I contend that Goodell, the league and the Ravens knew about this video and looked the other way. When it came out, both the NFL and the Ravens went into spin mode, cutting ties with Rice in order to cover their own asses in the face of mounting public criticism.

I am not surprised the NFL was in denial about its handling of domestic violence among its players. Remember this is the same league that was in deep denial about effects of concussions on its former and current players and had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to face this reality.

As for TMZ Sports releasing the video on the first week of the NFL season, Bleep you, too because there was nothing virtuous or heroic about the release of this video, especially from a media outlet that has the journalistic integrity of a plagiarist.

I wonder who TMZ paid off to get a copy of the video?

All TMZ Sports did was exploit human suffering to get higher ratings. They don’t give a rat’s ass about domestic violence unless it’s celebrities and they can get it on video. Spare me your fake outrage, too as you sip on your vanilla latte while stalking athletes and movie stars.

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This Woman’s Worth … The Ray Rice Suspension and What the NFL Really Thinks of Women

25 Jul
Janay and Ray Rice's press conference to explain spousal abuse incident in New Jersey.

Janay and Ray Rice’s press conference to explain spousal abuse incident in Atlantic City last February.

By Denise Clay

of the Mad (Political) Scientist

Over the last few years, the National Football League has been trying to attract women by having breast cancer awareness games, and fun events, like my friend Tashyra Ayers’ “Female Football Frenzy” benefit for the American Heart Association.

But it’s going to take a lot more than a bunch of guys wearing pink gloves and shoestrings in October and an appearance from a hunky wide receiver at a benefit to get the taste of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s latest move out of women’s mouths.

On Thursday, Goodell announced that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice would be serving a two-game suspension for abusing his fiancee’, now wife, Janay in an Atlantic City hotel in February. He’ll also be paying a $58,000 fine and getting some counseling. He’ll also lose more than $500,000 in game checks.

(Or as I like to call it, his Petty Cash…)

“This league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public, and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game,” Goodell said in a letter he sent to Rice telling him of his suspension. “This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”

This is a strongly worded letter…for a two-game suspension..

Okay…

But in some light of some other punishments meted out by the league on a few other, not as blatant offenses, I’m a little confused.

So let me get this straight.

In the NFL, killing dogs as part of a dogfighting ring, the offense committed by New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick, gets you first suspended indefinitely, suspended for four games once you’re reinstated, and earns you the permanent enmity of a whole lot of misguided pet lovers.

Shooting yourself in the leg at a nightclub, the offense that put former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress on the hot seat, gets you suspended for four games.

Taking a fertility drug in hopes of helping your wife get pregnant, the faux pas that has Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis riding the pine, gets you suspended for four games.

But decking your fiancee’ in a casino hotel, dragging her into an elevator and making her sit through a press conference that probably made Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa say “Damn! That sucks!” costs you two games and about $500,000.

No wonder Janay Rice looks like she hasn’t got a damn left to give. If I don’t stop scratching my head so hard, I’m gonna need stitches.

Now from everything I’ve read about Ray Rice, the whole “beating the snot out of my significant other” thing is out of character.

But my guess is that it’s not as much “out of character” as it was “finally got caught”.

According to the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, one-third of all women who have experienced a severe instance of domestic violence will experience another similar event in the same year. African Americans also make up one-third of the intimate partner homicides in the country.

I would be willing to bet my last dollar that Goodell took none of what I just mentioned into consideration when he made his decision.

Now let’s be honest here. The NFL has got a whole lot of issues. In addition to the whole “One of our teams is named for a racial slur” thing, the NFL has a culture of sexism bordering on misogyny.

There, I said it. And I meant it too.

From the cheerleaders for my beloved Oakland Raiders being forced to sue for their pay to the rather ridiculous hygiene rules placed on the Buffalo Bills’ pom-pom wielders, what women have to put up with to be involved with football makes my feminist skin crawl.

And don’t even get me started on the beer-and-testosterone-soaked shenanigans in the stands. Or the way that players use women like napkins. Or the fact that the marriage vows for most of the players should have written on an Etch-A-Sketch.

But if the league is serious about getting women (and their money) into the stands to keep the billions flowing in, it can’t afford to add “tolerance for domestic violence” to that mix.

Because like a woman who’s had enough, we’ll get up and walk away.

Denise Clay is a columnist with the Philadelphia Public Record and writes for her own blog, The Mad (Political) Scientist.  You can check out her columns at denisethewriter1.wordpress.com.

 

Eagles Players Say Cooper-Williams Scuffle Was Just Football, Not Racial

5 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—In a video that will probably get more viral than the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight next week, controversial Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper got into a fight with teammate and volatile cornerback Cary Williams.

The video, which was shot by Comcast Sportsnet Philly, shows Cooper going after Williams after both players hit the ground during a passing drill on a ball thrown by quarterback Michael Vick.

Cooper attempted to grab Williams around the neck. Williams threw a couple of overhand slaps to Cooper’s helmet.  Teammates restrained both players. Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin pulled Cooper away while Eagles assistant coach Todd Lyght separated Williams.

But as Cooper was being pulled away, Williams broke away from the coaches and stalked after Cooper and could be faintly heard on the video saying, “I ain’t the N-word you f—k with.”

That was apparently a reference to a video in which Cooper using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert after a dispute with an African-American security guard.

Also in the video, Vick looked like he was trying to calm Williams down.  Then Vick was spirited away after Williams appeared to have shoved him.

Inside the locker room, the players said the situation came down to two guys competing for the ball and nothing to do with anything beyond what happens in football.

Of course, it does beg question, have the Eagles Black players really gotten over Cooper’s comments at the Kenny Chesney concert?

“It’s just something that happens,” said Boykin. “People are out there competing and practicing hard everyday. It’s just competition.  They’re moving on from it.”

“The ball was in the air and they both kind of came down on each other. …it was over quick, we broke it up and forgot about it and we practiced. They guarded each other six or seven times and nothing happened.”

Cooper himself played down the incident and chalked it up to two guys fighting for the football.  When he asked if Williams said something vicious to him, Cooper jokingly said, “Y’all ready for Washington.”

When asked if things were normal with his teammates since returning from his leave of absence in aftermath of him using the N-word, Cooper said everything was okay with his teammates both African-American and white.

“Everything is completely 100 percent normal, talking to everybody, everybody talking to me,” Cooper told reporters after practice Thursday. “We’re all real close. Everybody, Cary included. He’s my boy. We’re both in the NFL. We are super competitive. We both want the ball. In one-on-one’s, he wants to have a pick, I want to have a reception. That’s just what it is.”

Since the controversy regarding the video came to light, Cooper said no other player from any team around the league during the preseason has brought it up during the heat of competition in a game or during practice.

Williams, who played with the Baltimore Ravens last season, does have a history of trash-talking with opposing wide receivers regardless of race.  When the Ravens played the Eagles last season, Williams was fined by the league for a fight with DeSean Jackson, who was also fined.

Ironically, Jackson was seen on tape talking with Williams after the fight. He said that he told Williams that they have to focus on Monday night’s game against Washington.

“We got a game and in the end that’s all I care about,” Jackson said. “We got a game to win Monday and that’s it.”

Throughout the preseason and in training camp with the Eagles, Williams has been getting into fights with any receiver who lines up against him.

When reporters gathered around Williams locker after practice, he refused to talk to reporters about the altercation with Cooper.

Wide receiver Jason Avant dismissed the incident as the something that goes as a normal part of what goes on at a football practice. He said the real problem was that it was caught on camera.

“That’s what happens on a football field, we just can’t let you guys see it,” Avant said with a smile.

What a Game: Super Bowl XLVII Was to Definitely One to Remember

5 Feb

By Chris Murray

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

For the Chris Murray Report

So what did we learn in the aftermath of the Baltimore Ravens thrilling 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII?

One- it is now safe to say that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.  In Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns passes and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

In the playoffs, Flacco beat Andrew Luck, the No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft and then knocked off two league MVPs in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Aren’t those guys considered elite quarterbacks?

If you’re still not convinced that Flacco is that dude or at the very least well on his way to becoming that dude,  you need to consider that in the 2012 postseason,  Flacco tossed 11 touchdown passes without an interception which ties Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most in a single postseason  without  a pick.

“One of the things is that without question he’s a big-game performer,” said Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.  “My old high school basketball coach used to always say cream will always rise to the top and that’s Joe.”

Flacco is the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to play in four playoff games without tossing an interception.  He has won seven career playoff games on the road including this last Super Bowl. It is the most road wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Flacco has a better record (9-4) in the postseason than Peyton Manning (9-11), whom he beat in the divisional playoff round.

“Joe is one of those guys that the bigger the game the better he plays and I think that you’re going to see that continue throughout his career,” Caldwell said.

Flacco is currently in negotiations with the Ravens for a new contract. To quote Hall-of-Fame cornerback and NFL Network analyst, Deion Sanders: “Pay that man!”

Colin Kaepernick scores on a 15-yard touchdown run to bring the 49ers to within two points of the Ravens.

Colin Kaepernick scores on a 15-yard touchdown run to bring the 49ers to within two points of the Ravens.

Two-, Colin Kaepernick and the read option are here to stay despite losing in the Super Bowl. Yes, he had a slow start, but Kaepernick still played his butt off, especially in the second half. Kaepernick and the 49ers offense shredded the Ravens defense for 468 yards of total offense-including 182 yards rushing.

With his team down by 22 points, Kaepernick brought the Niners back using a combination of the pass and the running game with Frank Gore and LaMichael James in the Pistol offense.

Gore, who would finish the game with 110 yards rushing and a touchdown, had two runs of 20-plus yards including a big 33-yard run that put ball deep in Baltimore territory late in the game from that read-option offense.

Kaepernick was 16-of-28 for 302 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 62 yards including a record-breaking 15-yard touchdown run, the longest in Super Bowl history by a quarterback. Not bad for a guy with just 10 starts in his brief career.

On their final drive of the game, the 49ers, in the Pistol formation, drove through a tired Ravens defense from their own 20-yard line to the Baltimore five. One of the big plays on that drive was Gore’s big 33-yard run to the Ravens 7.  A two-yard gain by James moved the ball to the five with about two minutes left.

That leads us to No. 3-Never get away from what’s working. On the 49ers remaining three downs of the game, they passed the ball on three straight plays and came up short.

You would have thought with Kaepernick’s running ability and the way Gore was crashing through the Ravens defense that head coach Jim Harbaugh or offensive coordinator Greg Roman would have called a play with one of them running the ball.

“I always thought they were going to run. I really did. All of those pressures were called for the run, not the pass,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

A quarterback draw or a designed run by Kaepernick from the Pistol or just giving it to Gore on the same option plays that got them into the red zone in the first place.

“We could’ve ran on them all day,” Gore said. “We called plays that we thought that was good, and things didn’t happen.”

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with his brother Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach after the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with his brother Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach after the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

No. 4-This was one hell of a Super Bowl.  This game had just about everything including several interesting storylines. You had the Harbaugh brothers-John and Jim matching wits against one another.

You had Flacco cementing his claim as a top-notch quarterback with an MVP-performance.

Beyonce’s performance at halftime, which included the reunion of Destiny’s Child, was a showstopper within a showstopper of a football game.

There was a 35-minute delay of the because of the power outage in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. I don’t pretend to know what caused it, but I suspect that origins of this outage came from a Buffalo Wild Wings in San Francisco where a 49ers fan sent a text to an electrician friend at the Superdome to shut the power down to stop Baltimore’s momentum.

Just kidding, but the Super Bowl power outage would make a great commercial for Buffalo Wild Wings.

The incredible performance by Ravens receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones, who caught a 56-yard touchdown pass that will go down as one of the great plays in Super Bowl history.  Jones caught the ball falling to the ground at about the 49ers seven yard line. He got up, put a move on a Niners defender and sped past another for the touchdown.

As a kick returner, Jones opened the second half with an electrifying, Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return. To paraphrase a Baltimore Sun reporter Jones will never want for a drink in Baltimore for the rest of his life.

There was also the 49ers valiant comeback from a 28-6 deficit in the third quarterback, led by Kaepernick, who is going to be a star in this league for a good long time barring injury.

Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.

Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.

San Francisco’s comeback fell short on what was a controversial non- pass interference

call on Michael Crabtree who locked horns with Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the endzone as Kaepernick’s pass on fourth down sailed over both players’ heads.

Was it  holding or pass interference against Baltimore or a good non-call by the officials?  It will be debated for a long time.

And last, but not least, Ray Lewis ending his storied career on an incredible goal-line stand by the Ravens defense. It was a fitting end for arguably one of the best middle linebackers to ever play the game.

Unstoppable? Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are a Defense’s Worst Nightmare

3 Feb

Can Baltimore Slow  Down  Kaepernick and 49ers  Pistol Offense?SB47_Primary_National_RGB

By Chris Murray

for the Chris Murray Report

In many respects, Super Bowl XLVII will be a matchup of two distinct offensive philosophies.  It’s the San Francisco 49ers new fangled Pistol read-option offense, which is taking the NFL by storm, versus the Baltimore Ravens conventional drop-back passer style of offense.

If the 49ers win this game, there will be a radical rethinking of how teams run their offense in the NFL run their offenses in the way Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense did back in the 1980s.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he's smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he’s smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

There are already teams around the league-the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers- that use a version of this read-option offense. New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to install his version of that offense as well.

In the Pistol read option formation, the quarterback is lined up about four yards behind the center while the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback so that the defense doesn’t see the running back while the quarterback can either run, handoff to the running back or even throw a play-action pass.

The 49ers, led by athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have averaged 476 yards in their two playoff games using their Pistol read-option offense. Perhaps the biggest splash that Kaepernick and the read-option have made thus far was the 49ers divisional playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, Kaepernick literally ran the Packers out of the playoffs with a record-setting performance. He rushed for NFL- record 181 yards (most ever by a quarterback regular season or playoffs) and scored two touchdowns. He passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The 49ers compiled 579 yards of offense.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, so much attention was on Kaepernick keeping the ball and running it that the Falcons forgot about Frank Gore, who gained 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, and tight end Vernon Davis caught five passes for 106 yards. Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown pass.

So what is it about the read-option that keeps defensive coordinators and the players the coach up late at night?

“They can do so much and do so many things,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.”

That’s because the read option makes teams have to defend the entire field. In effect, it’s 11-on-11 football where the quarterback serves as an extra blocker by reading where the defender is going to go. In the 49ers read option, Kaepernick can read the ends and linebackers. If those ends and line backers converge on him, the ball is going to the running back or it might go downfield on a pass play.

“It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “It is another way to put pressure on the defense. That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them.”

Added Kaepernick: “You’re actually blocking the defender by reading him.”

Even worse for the defense if the offense doesn’t the run ball, the other option for the quarterback is to pass the ball.

“It freezes them a little bit. It gives you a little bit more time,” Kaepernick said of his running ability. “If it’s just a split second, that’s an advantage for the offense.”

In a Dec. 4, the Ravens had trouble stopping the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffith III and their version of the read option. The Redskins rolled up 469 yards of total offense. RGIII passed for 242 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 34 yards.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Alfred Morris gained 129 yards rushing and the Redskins came from behind to beat Baltimore in overtime. There was something the Ravens learned from that experience that could serve them well against the 49ers on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.  “You have to play it as a group. I said that if you were to try to slow it down, that is the only way to slow it down, is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

Unstoppable? Colin Kaeper and the 49ers Read-Option is a Defense’s Worst Nightmare

2 Feb

SB47_Primary_National_RGB

Can Baltimore Slow  Down Colin Kaepernick and 49ers  Pistol Offense?

for the Chris Murray Report

In many respects, Super Bowl XLVII will be a matchup of two distinct offensive philosophies.  It’s the San Francisco 49ers new fangled Pistol read-option offense, which is taking the NFL by storm, versus the Baltimore Ravens conventional drop-back passer style of offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he's smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he’s smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

If the 49ers win this game, there will be a radical rethinking of how teams run their offense in the NFL run their offenses in the way Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense did back in the 1980s.

There are already teams around the league-the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers- that use a version of this read-option offense. New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to install his version of that offense as well.

In the Pistol read option formation, the quarterback is lined up about four yards behind the center while the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback so that the defense doesn’t see the running back while the quarterback can either run, handoff to the running back or even throw a play-action pass.

The 49ers, led by athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have averaged 476 yards in their two playoff games using their Pistol read-option offense. Perhaps the biggest splash that Kaepernick and the read-option have made thus far was the 49ers divisional playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, Kaepernick literally ran the Packers out of the playoffs with a record-setting performance. He rushed for NFL- record 181 yards (most ever by a quarterback regular season or playoffs) and scored two touchdowns. He passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The 49ers compiled 579 yards of offense.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, so much attention was on Kaepernick keeping the ball and running it that the Falcons forgot about Frank Gore, who gained 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, and tight end Vernon Davis caught five passes for 106 yards. Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown pass.

So what is it about the read-option that keeps defensive coordinators and the players the coach up late at night?

“They can do so much and do so many things,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.”

That’s because the read option makes teams have to defend the entire field. In effect, it’s 11-on-11 football where the quarterback serves as an extra blocker by reading where the defender is going to go. In the 49ers read option, Kaepernick can read the ends and linebackers. If those ends and line backers converge on him, the ball is going to the running back or it might go downfield on a pass play.

“It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “It is another way to put pressure on the defense. That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them.”

Added Kaepernick: “You’re actually blocking the defender by reading him.”

Even worse for the defense if the offense doesn’t the run ball, the other option for the quarterback is to pass the ball.

“It freezes them a little bit. It gives you a little bit more time,” Kaepernick said of his running ability. “If it’s just a split second, that’s an advantage for the offense.”

In a Dec. 4, the Ravens had trouble stopping the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffith III and their version of the read option. The Redskins rolled up 469 yards of total offense. RGIII passed for 242 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 34 yards.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Alfred Morris gained 129 yards rushing and the Redskins came from behind to beat Baltimore in overtime. There was something the Ravens learned from that experience that could serve them well against the 49ers on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.  “You have to play it as a group. I said that if you were to try to slow it down, that is the only way to slow it down, is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

No Ordinary Joe: Flacco Wants to Prove He’s Among the NFL’s Best QBs

31 Jan

By Chris Murray

There are some NFL observers who believe that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl win a way from being one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

There are some NFL observers who believe that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl win a way from being one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.

For the Chris Murray Report

About 30 seconds after the NFL Network played highlights of the Baltimore Ravens win over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, Hall-of Fame cornerback and network analyst Deion Sanders was asked if Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was among the league’s elite signal-callers.SB47_Primary_National_RGB

Sanders answered by saying that Flacco would have to win a Super Bowl in order to be mentioned in the same company as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Aaron Rogers.

Flacco will certainly have that opportunity this Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII against the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

“It will mean a lot if we can go win this game on Sunday,” said Flacco, who has led the Ravens to the playoffs in every year of his pro career, which started back in 2008. “I think when you talk about winning as quarterbacks in the playoffs, I would think that all of them have Super Bowl victories so that’s really the only one that matters and that’s what we’re trying to get.”

But when you look at his performance late in the season, one could argue that Flacco has played well enough to prove that he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL even before winning what could be the biggest game of his career.

“Listen, I am a little biased when it comes to Joe, because you are talking about somebody who has, right now, the best playoff winning percentage ever in NFL history. So, this guy has been proven since day one,” said Ray Lewis, the Ravens legendary middle linebacker.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has outplayed both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the 2012 playoffs. Photo by  Webster Riddick.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has outplayed both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the 2012 playoffs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught a pair of touchdown passes from Flacco in the AFC title game, said he and his teammates feel that their quarterback is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, especially after the former University of Delaware star said it himself earlier in the season.

“We backed him up. We all feel that way,” Boldin told reporters on Tuesday. “The perspective that we have is that we get a chance to see him every day. You guys, obviously you don’t. We know what he’s capable of doing. We’ve been in games where he’s won games for us. We know what he’s capable of doing, so we all back him.”

Ever since Jim Caldwell was promoted from the Ravens quarterback coach to the team’s offensive coordinator, Flacco has been the driving force behind Baltimore’s run to the Super Bowl aside from Lewis’ retirement hoopla.

More importantly, Flacco has beaten some of the league’s best quarterbacks in four of his last five games.  He defeated two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Eli Manning in the Ravens 33-14 win over the N.Y. Giants in December. In that game, he completed 25-of-36 passes for 309 yards and threw two touchdown passes.

Two weeks later in the opening round of the playoffs, Flacco outplayed Indianapolis Colts rookie sensation Andrew Luck in the Ravens 24-9 win.  In that game, Flacco was an efficient 12-of-23 for 282 yards and two touchdown passes.

The last two games leading up to the Super Bowl, Flacco simply outgunned two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in a span of eight days. In the double-overtime divisional playoff win over Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos, he passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns including the big 70-yard TD strike to Jacoby Jones that sent the game to overtime.

Against Brady and New England in the AFC title game, Flacco threw three second-half touchdown passes while passing for 240 yards.

“He’s one of the elite quarterbacks and I think he’s proven that,” said tight end Dennis Pitta. “We’ve known that about him all along. We’ve got a ton of confidence in him and he’s finally able to showcase that. Who are the other quarterbacks in the league? I only know Joe.”

Never mind that Flacco has won six playoff games on the road, has the best winning percentage in postseason history, led the Ravens to some clutch wins in the  last couple of years and was one dropped pass away from going to last year’s Super Bowl, he will have to show he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game by beating the 49ers on Sunday.