Flacco: Offensive woes start with me
Harbaugh defends his QB; Hester says groin injury has slowed him
Just as he did after the firing of offensive coordinator Marc Trestman earlier this month, quarterback Joe Flacco took accountability for the struggles of the Ravens offense.
“I’m obviously not playing good enough,” Flacco said Wednesday. “We’re not a good offense and it starts with the quarterback. I’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be more precise, and that starts with me.”
Flacco spent about 15 minutes after practice — the team’s final one before getting four consecutive days off during its bye week — working on goal-line passing drills.
He downplayed the need to get away from football this week, even as criticism of his play has mounted in recent weeks while the offense has fallen into a deep slump. The Ravens are tied for 25th in the NFL in scoring, and their 10 offensive touchdowns through seven weeks are the second fewest in the NFL.
Flacco has just two touchdown passes and four interceptions over the past five games, and his 75.4 quarterback rating is the third worst among current NFL starters.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended his starter and said it’s up to the team to give him more help.
“We need to all do everything in our power that all the things are falling in place for him,” Harbaugh said. “He can play. He can throw it. He can make decisions. He can score touchdowns for us. He can do all the things we need to do. We need to make sure that we give him a chance to do that.
“I’m not worried about Joe taking care of what he needs to do. Joe works on it harder than anybody. He cares about it more than anybody. We need to protect him. We need to run routes. We need to create confidence in our Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is sacked by the Jets’ Leonard Williams, top, and Sheldon Richardson in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. passing game. We need to run the ball well. We need to do the things we need to do to make the offense work, and Joe will make the offense work.”
Flacco, who said he feels good physically after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee in November, believes the team is getting closer to having a good offense. He said the weekend off will allow new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and the rest of the offensive coaches to step back and integrate a few more things into the game plan.
The quarterback’s assessment is that a “bunch of little things” are holding the Ravens back, and if they got a little better in every area, the offense “can be cleaned up pretty quickly.”
“Right now, we have one guy here and there doing something that’s a little bit off, myself [included], and it halts a whole drive and when that happens through- out the course of a whole game and you have a good amount of those, it leads to what we’ve been dealing with, which is not putting up any points on the board and not giving ourselves really any opportunity to put points on the board,” Flacco said. “I don’t think we had any red-zone opportunities this last week. You’re obviously not going to score any points when that happens.” Hester is hurting: In seven games thus far, Ravens return specialist Devin Hester Sr. has fumbled four times and lost one. Hester said Wednesday that a pulled groin muscle — not a thigh injury, as initially listed by the team — is making it difficult for him to get into position to field punts and kicks.
“It’s just moving lateral,” said Hester, 33, who did not participate in two bye-week practices this week. “I don’t know where the
thigh came up in this situation. It’s more my groin. So trying to move lateral and get in front of the ball has been a little trouble. But at the end of the day, I don’t blame the injury for the mistakes that I’ve made. I’ve just got to get healthy.”
Hester, who ranks third in the NFL with a 28.8-yard kick-return average, said he initially felt an irritation with his left groin muscle during the team’s 25-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 18. Then he overcompensated and pulled his right muscle.
Hester fumbled on two punt returns but did not lose the ball either time in Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the New York Jets. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg acknowledged that Hester’s ability to make a clean catch and maintain ball security is a concern.
“I’m really looking forward to having a healthy Devin Hester up there,” Rosburg said Tuesday. “It’s affecting him in two ways. One is just his ability to move, and the other is his ability to practice. It’s a tough skill, and he needs to practice. The practice he’s been getting is in pregame warmup, and that’s not enough.” The running back rotation: With starting running back Terrance West (Towson University, Northwestern High) missing practice this week because of an ankle injury, rookie fourth-round draft pick Kenneth Dixon got more opportunities and Harbaugh liked what he saw.
“He looked a little more juiced up today,” Harbaugh said. “He’s starting to get healthier and looked more 100 percent maybe than he has in the last couple of weeks.”
Dixon missed the first four games with a strained MCL in his left knee. In three games since his return, he has six carries for 10 yards and three receptions for 6 yards.
Harbaugh mentioned earlier the week that he wants to get Dixon more involved.
“If he wants me to get a better workload, I’m definitely prepared for it,” Dixon said. “The old saying is, ‘Stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready.’ That’s kind of what I’ve been doing, just staying with my workload and just keep grinding, and when the team calls on me, I’ll be ready to answer the bell.” End zone: The Ravens had 11 players not practicing Wednesday: West (ankle); wide receivers Hester, Steve Smith Sr. (ankle) and Mike Wallace; tight end Dennis Pitta; linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring), Elvis Dumervil (foot), Albert McClellan and Kamalei Correa; and defensive backs Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Shareece Wright (hamstring). Harbaugh said he expects the majority of his injured players to be back in time for the Nov. 6 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. … Although the players are now off until Monday, Harbaugh said the coaching staff will work the next two days on selfscouting and game planning. … Harbaugh will spend the weekend watching his daughter, Alison, play lacrosse. “I’m looking forward to that,” he said. … Upon league review, the Jets were awarded another sack against the Ravens, which added 5 more rushing yards to the Ravens’ total. The Ravens finished with11rushes for 11 yards, still a franchise low.