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Late For Work 10/26: Bisciotti Helps Dilfer Put Loss In Perspective

Former Browns HC Eric Mangini breaks down Flacco’s growth; no divisiveness; power rankings.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 at 9:38 am | Categories: Sarah Ellison, Week 7 at Jaguars

Bisciotti Helps Dilfer Put Loss In Perspective

If you watched ESPN’s post-game crew analyze the Ravens’ 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday night, you heard analyst and former Ravens Super Bowl- winning quarterback Trent Dilfer give harsh criticism on the Ravens.

He used phrases like “garbage game” and “horrific performance.”

Dilfer later had the opportunity to speak with Steve Bisciotti, who Scott Van Pelt called “level-headed,” to get the owner’s take on his previously 4-1 team’s loss to a 1-5 squad.

“I was a little knee jerk after the game,” Dilfer said on ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt Show.  ”I was expecting these Baltimore Ravens to contend for the Super Bowl and then you see that performance from them on Monday night and you are just taken aback by it. But Steve, as usual, has kind of given me a nice perspective and reminded me of our Super Bowl year.”

That year, the Ravens didn’t score a touchdown for five games, but still managed to win the championship. Dilfer said his own offensive unit was “pathetic,” but the defense was good enough to overcome its shortcomings. He believes this year’s defensive unit is good enough to do the same.

“Make no mistake about it, the Baltimore Ravens have the ability to play dominant defense, one of the few teams in this league that can.”

With the offense not getting a first down for 39 minutes and not scoring any points for 58, the knee-jerk reaction is to believe the Ravens are no longer a Super Bowl-caliber team.

Dilfer wants to rise above a one-game analysis, however.

“They are a work in progress offensively and I see that,” he said. “So I don’t want to be one of the guys that says, ‘Well you know, Monday night they couldn’t get a first down, that’s pathetic, you can’t win a Super Bowl that way,’ when I was on a team that was even worse offensively and was able to win one.

“So it was nice getting a little perspective and I think people who are following the Ravens and are following the AFC maybe should just treat [Monday] night as an aberration.”

Both Dilfer and ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio are seeing the Ravens play well in “big games” like the ones against the Steelers and Jets – two playoff-caliber teams – but aren’t as successful against teams considered to be lesser opponents.

“I’m not ready to say that the Ravens are frauds, the Ravens are pretenders,” Florio said. “I would have picked them as a Super Bowl team before yesterday’s game and I still may pick them as a Super Bowl team after it.

“The flaw with the Ravens is they play down to the level of competition.”

In addition to losing to the Jaguars, the Ravens’ other defeat came against the Titans (3-3) in which they lost by a margin of 13 points.

For CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg, those two losses and a poor offensive performance against the New York Jets is enough to prove a pattern of inconsistency.

“If they had dropped just one egg, you could shrug it off. Every team has bad days. But when they laid another Monday night, it means there’s a pattern of inconsistency, primarily on offense. … They’re still a playoff team in the AFC more than likely, but that’s only because they have one of the league’s best defenses. Their offense plainly lacks playoff-caliber consistency.”

Head Coach John Harbaugh also acknowledged in his press conference yesterday that the offense has been inconsistent. He and his team believe that can be fixed and are working to bring more consistency to the unit.

The good news, according to Florio, is that the Ravens already have the “hard part figured out.”

“They know how to show up and they know how to bring it against the best teams,” he said. “They need to take care of business against the worst teams.”

Flacco’s Growth And Future

With an up and down start to the 2011 season, some outsiders have questioned whether Flacco has shown enough growth since his 2008 rookie season.

Here’s a unique perspective from the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini, whose job it was to find ways to stop Flacco. He faced the Ravens’ quarterback twice a year for two years as a division opponent.

“I’ve seen a lot of Joe Flacco,” Mangini said on ESPN’s The Herd. “To me, he has developed a lot from when he first came in. When he first came in, it was almost an approach of don’t let him lose the game – just let him manage the game. Over the course of time, he’s developed where he can win games .

“He’s going to have some bad games. The offense is based on being able to run the football and then run some play action off of that, some deeper routes, and overall he’s done a good job and I’ve seen development. Is it perfect right now? No, but he’s gotten better each year, but there’s going to be some games like there were [Monday].”

During this past offseason, Flacco said that he would like to get started on extending his rookie contract. He felt he had proven to the Ravens that he had done enough to stick around Baltimore for years to come.

In order to get the contract Flacco is looking for, NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora says the fourth-year signal caller needs to show more growth and better production through the second half of the season.

“He wanted it extended last year. He’ll want it extended after this season, but if the production isn’t there, the Ravens are not going to rush into that deal,” said La Canfora. “He still has one year left on his rookie deal. They may take care of Ray Rice, Ben Grubbs and others and let him play that out if there isn’t better production in the second half.”

NFL Network: No Divisiveness In Locker Room

After outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said he thought Monday night’s offensive strategy should have focused on getting running back Ray Rice more involved, outsiders wondered if it was a sign that there could be a divide in the locker room.

“Suggs’ criticism of [Offensive Coordinator Cam] Cameron is a clear sign that there is plenty of behind-the-scenes grumbling among the players on the subject,” wrote Eisenberg.

But a few NFL Network analysts see it differently, especially after Harbaugh and Cameron said they agree with Suggs’ view.

“Eight carries is never going to be a winning formula for Ray Rice,” Harbaugh said. “There is no doubt about it.”

“A situation that could have spiraled out of control in Baltimore has been quelled, thanks to Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s understanding,” wrote Simon Samano of NFL.com. “The fallout – or lack thereof – from Suggs’ comments is pretty remarkable. What good ever comes out of players questioning their coaches’ decisions? None, except that in this case, nothing bad came out of it, either. That Harbaugh has taken the high road definitely shows he’s a solid veteran coach who knows his locker room well.”

In addition to Harbaugh keeping his team unified, 16-year veteran linebacker Ray Lewis is likely doing the same.

“Their leader is Ray Lewis and there is not a selfish bone in his body,” said NFL Network’s Heath Evans. “Everyone from Flacco, Rice, they follow his lead. I think even the coaching staff follows his lead sometimes and he’s not going to allow that to happen. This offense, we’ve seen it be productive and then we’ve seen it be pretty bad as we’ve seen last night.

“But if you’re looking for divisiveness in this locker room, friend, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”  

Week 7 Power Rankings

The Ravens’ standing in rankings around the Web fell, but not too badly. It seems most analysts are waiting to see if the loss on Monday was a fluke or a trend.

Here’s a roundup (with this week’s ranking and last week’s ranking in parentheses) below:

ESPN.com (6/3): “The defense is championship-caliber. But the offense has a loooong way to go.”

SI.com’s Peter King (3/3): “OK, I may have been wrong on Bryant McKinnie. I was not complimentary about the Ravens’ signing of McKinnie to play left tackle, because I thought he began mailing it in in Minnesota (including the Miami Pro Bowl debacle). But see what happens when a player has to answer to Ray Lewis if he’s not at his very best, and where he has team guys like Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda in the offensive line meeting room? McKinnie’s lost 20 pounds in seven weeks, and he’s getting close to being the perfect left tackle weight for the massive man he is. And though he hasn’t played at a Pro Bowl-level yet, he’s shored up a position that looked like it might be real trouble.” [NOTE: King's ranking came out before the Monday night loss.]

CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco (6/0033): “When does Joe Flacco show he and his offense can be top tier? That showing in Jacksonville was horrible.”

FoxSports.com’s Brian Billick (6/2): “The Ravens should have learned their lesson in Week 2, when they overlooked the struggling Titans. Once again, it didn’t look like this offense was mentally prepared for a physical football game.”

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio (7/2): “Apparently, the players didn’t realize it was “game time,” and there were precisely zero ‘dogs in the house.’”

NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison (5/3): “Welcome to parody — er, parity — football. This was former commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s vision. Any team can beat any team on any week. That’s great and all, but it sure would be nice if we could hang our hat on any dominant team in the AFC. The Ravens could’ve pulled it out in Jacksonville, but quarterback Joe Flacco continues to underwhelm.”

Quick Hits

  • Check out the online chat with NFL rules expert Mike Pereira. Lots of fans asked about various questionable calls from the Ravens-Jaguars contest. Pereira agreed that it was a bad night of officiating, but you don’t suspend the refs for a bad night as one fan suggested. [FoxSports.com]
  • A Q&A with Ray Rice in GQ magazine. He discusses his first NFL jersey he ever bought, his unabashed love for the “Call of Duty” video games, and those damn Terrible Towels. [GQ.com]
  • Another Q&A with tight end Dennis Pitta. He discusses his transition from wide receiver during college and the way he spends his offseasons. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • This is a clip from an E:60 episode in which Rachel Nichols is granted inside access as Rice returns to New Rochelle, N.Y., in the projects known as “The Hallow.”

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