Late For Work 10/20: Oher Says Flacco Is Toughest QB In NFL

Being around Lewis after losses; telling Torrey, LaQuan apart; power change in AFC North?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 9:26 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Oher Says Flacco Is Toughest QB In NFL

I’m knocking on wood as I write this section.

But Joe Flacco is proving to be one of the most durable quarterbacks among active signal-callers today.

Not missing a single game since his rookie season, Flacco has 53 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak among active quarterbacks. Only the New York Giants’ Eli Manning (109) and San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers (85) have more consecutive starts.

After taking some shots from the Texans on Sunday – two sacks and seven quarterback hits – fans were reminded how tough Flacco is by standing in the pocket and still delivering key deep passes to Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.

“This is my third year here with Joe,” right tackle Michael Oher told 105.7 The Fan yesterday. “Since my first year here, I’ve seen him take some hits and nothing fazes the guy. It’s unbelievable just to see him stand in the pocket time after time when he knows he’s going to get drilled on this play. He’s fearless. … It’s awesome to see him back there performing the way he’s performing.

He’s easily the toughest quarterback in the NFL.”

As Head Coach John Harbaugh said on Monday, he doesn’t want his quarterback getting hit as much as he was on Sunday.  But to the offsensive line’s credit – which has only played one game this season with all its starters – Flacco has been better protected than many of his counterparts around the league.

Only three quarterbacks – Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo, Washington Redskins’ Rex Grossman and Denver Broncos’ Kyle Orton – have been sacked less (each sacked nine times) than Flacco (10). Flacco has taken his fair share of hits, though. His 31 quarterback hits rank as the 21st most in the NFL.

“[Quarterbacks] are the target,” said NFL Network’s Warren Sapp, whose 96.5 career sacks are the second-highest total for a defensive tackle. “Every quarterback in the NFL that takes snaps, that goes back there and faces the defenses, the schemes, the blitzes [is tough] because they are the target. I want to lay on them and jump on them and step on them as many times as possible.”

With an opposing defensive mentality like that, center Matt Birk said his unit up front “certainly” needs to perform better.

“The last thing the Ravens need is to lose Flacco, especially because his backup is untested rookie Tyrod Taylor,” wrote David Ginsburg of the Associated Press. “So it is imperative that Baltimore’s offensive front form a sturdier wall, beginning Monday night against Jacksonville.”

Flacco believes his protectors up front will get the job done.

“Every now and then you’re going to get hit a little bit. That’s the name of the game as an NFL quarterback,” he said. “I’m going to have all the confidence in the world in those guys at all times.”

AFC North Power Structure Changing?

The AFC North has been ruled by the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past several years. Since 1991, the Cleveland Browns have only three winning seasons and the Bengals two, according to ESPN’s John Clayton.

But recent key trades could make what is already considered one of the toughest divisions in football that much more competitive.

“The Bengals and Browns have played bridesmaids to the Steelers and Ravens for an eternity,” wrote ESPN’s John Clayton. “Tuesday’s surprising Carson Palmer trade offers hope that the futures of both franchises might be changing.”

The Bengals gained a 2012 first-round pick and a second-rounder in 2013 that could become a first-rounder if the Raiders reach the AFC title game with Palmer in either of the next two seasons. Back in April, the Browns received five draft picks from the Falcons so Atlanta could move up and select receiver Julio Jones.

“The potential of five first-round picks going to these franchises in 2012 and 2013 offers hope that two or three years down the line, the power structure within the AFC North might change,” wrote Clayton.

The Professor goes on to argue that the Ravens and Steelers are getting older and the Browns and Bengals may have already found their franchise quarterback in Colt McCoy and Andy Dalton, respectively.

“How the Bengals and Browns handle the next two drafts will determine the timetable for them to be on an even playing field with the Steelers and Ravens,” wrote Clayton.

Being Around Ray Lewis After A Loss

After a loss, one could imagine Ray Lewis, the fiercest and most competitive linebacker of all time, stomping around the locker room throwing chairs and ice chests with steam coming out of his ears.

While that’s not the case, Lewis told WNST that he is “human” and knows how fans feel when the Ravens both win and lose.

“For years, I promise you, I had to really find myself to get over something,” Lewis said. “My mom used to always get mad at me because after a loss nobody in the car can talk on the way home. Nobody can talk in the house. I don’t want to talk to nobody; I don’t want to say nothing.

“I used to really change the mood in my entire family by losing a game. So trust me when I say we know exactly how you [fans] feel.”

Throughout his 16 year career, however, Lewis’ reaction to losing has evolved. Fellow linebacker Brendon Ayanbedejo says Lewis has helped him put losses in perspective.

“You get to play 16 regular-season games, it’s OK if you lose one,” said Ayanbadejo. “He’s like ‘There’s people who are dealing with tsunamis, earthquakes, poverty and [hunger].’ I was really upset after a game and he’s like, ‘You’re over here devastated over a game. Don’t ever be devastated over a game. You’re always going to get that next opportunity. But there are people that are devastated because they’ve lost their homes or they’ve lost their food.’ He just put everything in perspective for me.”

Distinguishing T. Smith From L. Williams

Torrey Smith and Laquan Williams are both Ravens wide receivers.

They’re both rookies who went to the University of Maryland.

They’re both 6-foot-0 and a shade over 200 pounds.

They both have long dread locks.

One is 82 (Smith) and the other is 15 (Williams).

“I love how EVERYONE in bmore gets me and @i_amQUAN (Williams) mixed up,” tweeted Smith. “smh same thing happened in college all the time.”

Allow me to help, Torrey. Here are side-by-side pictures with Smith on the left and Williams on the right. They could both be around for a while, so get a good look, people.


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