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Late For Work 1/31: Waddle: Zorn’s Release Not A Shot At Flacco

Plus tagging Ngata is a ‘near certainty’ and Lewis wants the Pro Bowl to stay in Hawaii.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 9:11 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison


Waddle: Zorn’s Release Not A Shot At Flacco

If you’ve been offline for the weekend, let me recap the events that followed the Ravens’ announcement last Thursday that Quarterbacks Coach Jim Zorn was released and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron’s quarterback responsibilities would increase.

  • On Friday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said reports (initiated by The Baltimore Sun and repeated by Pro Football Talk) characterizing Zorn as insubordinate was “inaccurate and unfair” to Zorn. “In no way does it describe Jim’s relationship with the Ravens, and that includes with his fellow coaches while here and our players,” said Harbaugh. “Jim’s departure from the Ravens will remain as private as these matters can be, but we feel it’s necessary to at least point out that this report is inaccurate. It is not true in any way, shape or form.”
  • Saturday morning, National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson talked to quarterback Joe Flacco’s agent, Joe Litna. “Joe got along well with Jim Zorn,” Linta told Wilson. “Joe knows that whatever decision the organization makes is in the team’s best interest.”
  • Saturday afternoon, several outlets, including Baltimoreravens.com, reported that Flacco was “not happy” with the team’s decision to fire Zorn and added the decision reflected the organization’s feelings about how he performed. “I also feel a little bit like I’m being attacked,” Flacco said.  “Usually when your fire a position coach, it’s because you’re not really happy with how that position did. And when I look back on my season and our season as a team, I mean, we won 13 games.  I felt like I had a pretty good year and you’re firing the quarterback coach?  It’s kind of an attack on me, I feel like.
  • Saturday evening, The Sun reported that Flacco had voiced his support of Zorn to Owner Steve Bisciotti and Harbuagh at the end of the season and “left those conversations believing Zorn’s job was safe.”
  • Sunday morning, Wilson tweeted, “After the Joe Flacco interview, already hearing that Joe’s comments were met with strong approval by several teammates. They liked his fire.”
  • Sunday afternoon, Jamison Hensley tweeted, “Ravens aren’t planning to respond to Flacco’s comments.

Without a statement from the organization, analysts are left debating whether Flacco’s assertion is correct. Did Zorn’s firing have anything to do with Flacco’s 2010 performance?

Not according to NFL Network’s Tom Waddle and Matt Millen.

“I don’t think the firing of Jim Zorn had anything to do with the play of Joe Flacco this year and I don’t think it was a direct shot at Flacco,” said Waddle in an NFL.com video.

In his third year, Flacco threw for a career-best 3,622 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In Waddle’s estimation, he also looked more comfortable in the pocket and made great strides.

“I’m sure Joe thought Jim Zorn deserved some of the credit for his improvement and he had a very nice comfort level with his quarterbacks coach,” said Waddle. “But coaches come and go in the National Football League and I think this smelled more of a personality dispute or disagreement maybe between the coaches …. and less to do with how they felt their quarterback performed because their QB played quite well this year.”

“I don’t think he can be sensitive about it and he can’t take it personally.”

Millen agreed with Waddle, saying Flacco had a “myopic view,” but that’s all he can do because he doesn’t have the big picture the way a head coach can.

Meanwhile, MASN’s Dan Kolko had a more understanding view of Flacco’s reaction.

“Looking at it from Flacco’s perspective, you can’t entirely blame him,” wrote Kolko. “Under Zorn’s direction, Flacco posted his best statistical season of his young career. He then gave Zorn a clear endorsement, and his positional coach still got fired.

“That’s not to say that the Ravens were wrong to let Zorn go. He clearly wasn’t the perfect fit here in Baltimore and did not see eye-to-eye with Cameron, who will still be running the offensive show next season. But it definitely raises some questions. And it sounds like Flacco would like some answers.”

Walker: Tagging Ngata A ‘Near Certainty’

After the NFL announced teams will be allowed to use its franchise tags next month – despite labor uncertainty – ESPN’s James Walker speculated candidates for the tag in the AFC North.

Walker believes tagging Ngata is a “near certainty.”

Ravens brass has a very small window to figure out what to do with Ngata (and 19 currently restricted free agents) so tagging him and keeping him away from the open market could be a helpful move.

“The Ravens have tagged players in the past, such as Terrell Suggs, in an effort to buy time and work out a long-term deal,” wrote Walker. “Ngata is a franchise building block for the Ravens and is due to become perhaps the NFL’s highest-paid defensive lineman. Therefore, hammering out this contract won’t be easy, especially if a new collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached soon.”

Happy 10-year Anniversary! (Last Friday)

Ten years ago last Friday, the city of Baltimore got its first Ravens Super Bowl victory, routing the New York Giants, 34-7, in Tampa, Fla.

Yes, it has really been that long. But the crazy thing about it is that year’s Super Bowl MVP went to his 12th Pro Bowl the same weekend 10 years later.

Brian Billick, who covered the Pro Bowl this weekend, reminisced about how special Ray Lewis was and still is.

“One of the most unbelievable players I’ve ever been around in my career,” said Billick.

What one thing stands out to Billick the most?

“The Ray Lewis you see on Sunday, the passion, the intensity. That’s the same Ray Lewis you see throughout the week, in meetings…”

Lewis Wants Pro Bowl to Stay In Hawaii

Speaking of Lewis, the 15-year veteran was happy to see the Pro Bowl return to Hawaii – where it had been since 1980 – after one year in Miami.

The thought struck him the moment he stepped off the plane and was greeted with a traditional Hawaiian lei and aloha.

“That’s when you say, ‘OK. I’ve made it again.’ You really appreciate it,” Lewis said, per the Canadian Press. ”This is the reward. With the Pro Bowl being here, this is the reward.”

Hawaii is reportedly paying $4 million per game to host the Pro Bowl this year and in 2012. But the Pro Bowl site hasn’t been determined beyond that.

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