Late For Work 11/17: Flacco Can ‘Certainly Handle’ Audibles

Plus, Stallworth is a punt returner candidate, ranking NFL coaches and power rankings.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 8:59 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Flacco Can ‘Certainly Handle’ Audibles

During his weekly Tuesday night radio show, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked by a fan if quarterback Joe Flacco is permitted or capable of making audibles at the line of scrimmage.

The fan said it doesn’t appear that Flacco makes many adjustments, especially compared to other NFL quarterbacks.

Harbaugh said Flacco can "certainly handle" making adjustments at the line and probably does so more often than perhaps detected.

The head coach explained why Flacco’s changes at the line may not be as obvious as other times, saying the blatancy depends on the structure of the offense.

The most obvious quarterback calls come in "static" formations. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are two signal callers famous for calling the play, protection and almost the whole offense at the line of scrimmage.  Harbaugh noted Matt Ryan did the same last week when he was in the no-huddle.

"Joe has that option a lot of times, when we’re in the no-huddle, certainly," Harbaugh said. "Also when we’re in situations where we’ve got them in static formations."

But Harbaugh added that when the offense is in motion, moving and shifting – which he says the Ravens probably do more often than other teams – the adjustments are less obvious. It only requires a one-word signal to make a change.

"A lot of times you never see it," Harbaugh explained. "If you’re watching very closely, you’ll see a play maybe where we have a run called, and Joe’s got the option on certain coverages to stand up and throw the ball to the wide receiver.

In fact, that’s what wide receiver Anquan Boldin said happened Thursday night in Atlanta. After the game, Boldin said the Ravens originally had a run play called on his 5-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, but that Flacco saw the Falcons were stacking the box and "Joe gave me a fade signal."

"Sometimes it doesn’t look like Joe’s making an adjustment at the line because it’s a single-word type of a deal. It’s taking the play the other way, it’s taking a pass off and going to the run, it’s taking the run off and going to a pass, he’s changing the protection a lot of the times up front. Those are all single-word type calls that just look like part of the [play]."

Harbaugh added that as they move forward, the Ravens offense may use more static formations where Flacco is calling the offense at the line of scrimmage, but added there is a risk to that style because the defense can hear the play being called too.

"I don’t know that that’s the offense we want to be in all of the time," Harbaugh said." But there are definitely elements of that in our offense that fans will see sometimes and other times they may not see."

Harbaugh Open to Stallworth At Punt Returner

During the same radio show, Harbaugh addressed his team’s punt return game, which ranks 30th in the NFL.

Last week, Lardarius Webb got a few cracks at returning punts, but his crucial fumble led to three points for the Falcons.

"You’ve got to carry the ball high and tight, you can’t let a guy slap the ball out," Harbaugh said. "Job 1 is, you protect the football. We talk to the young guys, ‘You don’t want to be known as a fumbler.’ [Coverage teams] will be tackling the ball with Lardarius every single time now."

Donte’ Stallworth is a candidate to return punts for the Ravens, according to Harbaugh.

"He’s done it before," he said. "He hasn’t been a Pro Bowl type guy, but he wants to do it. As he gets his feet under him, it’s something we’ll look at."

Ranking NFL Head Coaches

Since this has been a Harbaugh-dominant LFW so far, let’s keep it rolling.

The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg  ranked all 32 NFL coaches, with Harbaugh and Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan tied for the No. 7 position.

Van Valkenburg noted that the styles of Harbaugh and Ryan couldn’t be more different, but they are both "poised to be successful for a long time." Here’s the writer’s opinion on the Ravens head coach:

I understand why some Ravens fans aren’t ready to embrace Harbaugh, even though it looks like he’ll be the first coach in Ravens history to make the playoffs three years in a row. He’s very corporate and he struggles with timeouts and challenges in a way that’s frustrating. But he’s detail driven, very intelligent, hyper-competitive and no matter what you think of the Mighty Men stuff, his players don’t turn on one another when times are tough. He lets his team have a personality, but at the same time, he’s made them more disciplined. You can go ahead and say Ray Lewis is the real head coach of the Ravens, but that’s just a talk radio fantasy. Harbaugh still has stuff he can work on, but it’s clear the Ravens made the right call when they hired him. Harbaugh is good at the macro stuff, while an impatient fan base tends to focus on the micro stuff.

Top 10:
10. John Fox, Panthers
9. Mike Smith, Falcons
7. (tie) Rex Ryan, Jets and John Harbaugh, Ravens
6. Andy Reid, Eagles
5. Tom Coughlin, Giants
4. Sean Payton, Saints
3. Mike Tomlin, Steelers
2. Jeff Fisher, Titans
1. Bill Belichick, Patriots

Week 10 Power Rankings

"There’s no shame in a last-second loss to Atlanta at the Georgia Dome," wrote ESPN’s James Walker.

That’s true, but other than USA Today, the loss hurt the Ravens in this week’s power rankings. Most were using Baltimore as a measuring stick for the Falcons, which is why Atlanta assumed the top spot in many rankings around the Web.

: Ravens are ranked No. 4, down from No. 1 last week. Because the Falcons dethroned last week’s leader, they jumped two spots to assume the top position. Patriots and Jets are Nos. 2 and 3, respectively.
USA Today: Ravens are ranked No. 2, the same as last week. USA Today didn’t think the loss to the Falcons should hurt Baltimore’s standing, but Atlanta did take the top seat ahead of the Ravens. Makes sense, they deserve it. Ravens are ranked No. 5, down from No. 3 last week. The Jets, Falcons, Patriots and Giants round out the Top 4. Ravens are ranked No. 6, down from No.2 last week. The Falcons are No. 1, followed by the Jets, Pats, Eagles and Colts.’s Jason La Canfora: Ravens are ranked No. 3, down from No. 1 last week. For the first time in six weeks, La Canfora does not have the Ravens listed at No. 1. He gave that honor to the Saints, followed by the Jets. Mike Florio ranked the Ravens No. 4, down from No. 1 last week. Florio writes the Ravens were "robbed" on the Roddy White touchdown, but the game shouldn’t have gotten to that point. Falcons are No. 1.’s Peter King: Ravens are ranked No. 6, down from No. 1 last week.  This is the biggest drop the Ravens suffered among all the standings.

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