Late For Work 12/21: Mason Prefers Flacco Over Sanchez

Wallace likely to start, Browns fans want to lose, Webb fine with not starting, rankings.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 at 9:10 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Mason Prefers Flacco Over Sanchez

Who would you prefer leading your team in the playoffs: Joe Flacco or Mark Sanchez?

Both young quarterbacks were drafted in the first round (Flacco in 2008, Sanchez in 2009). Both led their teams to the AFC Championship as a rookie. Both have returned to the playoffs each successive year.

Receiver Derrick Mason has played with both quarterbacks and didn’t hesitate to say he would take Flacco over Sanchez come January.

“Yeah, I’d take Flacco because I’ve spent a lot of time with Flacco and I understand the strides he’s made over his career,” said Mason. “Not a knock on Sanchez or anything, but I spent a lot of time with Flacco. So I’d take a Flacco over Sanchez.”

In Mason’s mind, Sanchez’ has a problem with inconsistency.

“The quarterback position has been so up and down for the Jets this season,” said Mason. “One minute Sanchez plays like he’s the best quarterback in the NFL. The next minute he plays not up to the standard that even he wants.”

Thus, instead of relying on Sanchez as the Jets fight to hold onto the final AFC playoff spot, Mason believes the Jets are going to have to run the ball effectively and stop the run.

Mason “really doesn’t know” why Sanchez is so inconsistent because he works hard and is bright. That said, he has noticed a “hesitancy” in games where the “Sanchize” is off his game.

Coincidently, what many analysts knock Flacco for is also inconsistent play.

But after playing with Flacco for three seasons, Mason rejects that label for the four-year veteran.

“I wouldn’t look at Joe and say he’s been inconsistent,” said Mason.

Instead, the former Raven believes Flacco has faltered when the Ravens fall far behind on the scoreboard, which he says is exactly what happened in Baltimore’s losses this season.

“When you get behind against defenses, they know you’ve got to pass the ball,” said Mason.

“Joe’s history is he’s been good over the long haul. … He’s just had some games here and there, where when you’ve got to pass in this league and teams know you have to, it’s very hard.”

(Speaking of Flacco, he made this weeks NFL.com “Shame Report” for complaining about the media coverage of Tim Tebow and for his Fu Manchu.)

Wallace ‘More Than Likely’ To Start

It’s becoming clearer which quarterback will line up against the Ravens on Christmas Eve.

While Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur wouldn’t officially name Seneca Wallace the starter, he did say, “At this point, more than likely he’ll be the starter, for sure,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  

Starting quarterback Colt McCoy still has not returned to practice since suffering a concussion on Dec. 8.

After he sustained the concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison, the Browns’ medical staff allowed McCoy to return to the field in less than four minutes. The team didn’t test him for a concussion because they said they didn’t see the severity of the hit while dealing with other injured players and McCoy didn’t show symptoms.

Because of the mishap, the NFL is instituting new procedures to help prevent teams from unknowingly putting players with a concussion back in the game.

One guideline stipulates that an independent athletic trainer watch in the press box to monitor whether a player needs to be tested for a concussion.

Browns Fans Want To Lose In Baltimore

Just like Colts fans two weeks ago, Browns fans want to leave Baltimore with another loss on their record.

In a poll from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 58 percent of 5,638 voters said they want to lose to both Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the final two weeks of the season so that their franchise can get the highest draft pick possible in April.

Webb Fine With Not Starting

It was “conventional wisdom” to start Lardarius Webb Sunday night in San Diego, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Edward Lee.

Webb has played exceptionally well as the starting corner for the Ravens so far this season, but he injured his toe against the Colts and didn’t practice leading up to the Chargers game.

“Despite appearing to run and cut well on the injured toe on his left foot, cornerback Lardarius Webb was replaced by rookie Jimmy Smith as a starter in the Ravens’ eventual 34-14 loss,” wrote Lee.

But, Webb said he had no qualms with Smith getting the start and was fine with taking a safer approach.

“I think we were just being cautious about it,” said Webb, “Next week, we’re going to see how it works again.

“I was very confident in Jimmy Smith. I just knew that he could do that job. Me, I’m a competitor. You know I’m always going to want to start, but I didn’t want to go out there and hurt the team. I realize I want to help the team, not hurt them.”

Baltimore Has Edge In Ravens-Steelers III?

PFT.com’s Mike Florio envisions a third matchup between the Ravens and Steelers in the postseason.

He gives the advantage to the Ravens because of the Harbaugh brothers’ ability to gang up on Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin.

John and Jim Harbaugh are 3-0 against Tomlin this season and have outscored him 78-30.

“Amid reports that John helped Jim get ready for last night’s game, look for Jim to share with John whatever knowledge Jim gleaned from last night’s 20-3 drubbing of the Steelers, making it even harder for Tomlin and the Steelers to reverse the trend in the postseason, assuming that the Ravens and Steelers get together once again,” wrote Florio.

“The Ravens and Steelers seem to be on a crash course for a third get-together, and Mike Tomlin will have his work cut out for him if he hopes to overcome at least one of the Brothers Harbaugh.”

Week 15 Power Rankings

The consensus around the web is that the Ravens are the fifth best team in the NFL. They dropped two or three spots in each power rankings list below.

Most analysts have the Packers, Saints, 49ers and Patriots in some varied order ahead of the Ravens.

One could argue that the Ravens should still be ranked above San Francisco because Baltimore won the head-to-head matchup, but with two games remaining it’s irrelevant. The Ravens just want to take care of business and secure the division.

Below is the Week 15 list, with this week’s and last week’s rankings in parentheses:

ESPN.com (5/2): “All of Baltimore’s losses have come against teams currently without winning records.”

SI.com’s Peter King (5/2): “The way they’ve played on the road (3-4), you’ve got to look at Week 17 (at Cincinnati) in a much different light. The Ravens could still lose the division.”

CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco (5/2): “What the heck was that in San Diego? That was a disaster. The inconsistency of this team has to be maddening for John Harbaugh.”

FoxSports.com’s Brian Billick (5/3): “Albeit on a cross-country road game, the Ravens showed some real vulnerabilities on Sunday night. The Chargers pretty much had their way offensively and were able to get chunks of yardage both on the ground and through the air. The Ravens defense starts up front, and if Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata can’t apply pressure on the opposing QB, they will continue to struggle to stop big plays through the air.”

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio (5/2): “Losing to mediocre teams on the road in the regular season will force the Ravens to eventually lose to a very good team on the road in the postseason.”

NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison (5/3): “First, I was criticized for not having Baltimore higher based on two wins over Pittsburgh. Then I got harangued for moving them up after they handled the Colts. What will you say now? The bottom line for this franchise is quarterback play. The defense may have gotten whipped in San Diego, but Joe Flacco’s two gift picks put that unit behind the 8-ball. This is still a solid team, but the fact is even Alex Smith has outplayed Flacco. That’s saying something brother.”

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