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Late For Work 6/27: The Most Overrated Raven?

Rice: Flacco outplayed Brady. Ravens’ hidden treasure. Suggs in boot at world premiere.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 at 8:57 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

The Most Overrated Raven?

When I saw a thumbnail picture of quarterback Joe Flacco next to the title “AFC’s most overrated players,” I thought it read “underrated.”

It’s rare for analysts to give Flacco credit when the Ravens win; more times than not, the defense and Ray Rice get the recognition (see section below for more on this). So while it might also be a stretch to say Flacco is one of the most underrated, it’s probably a bigger stretch to say he’s among the most overrated.

But overrated is exactly what ESPN Insider KC Joyner says Flacco is.

His reasoning?

Flacco put himself on this list by saying in an April radio interview that he thinks he is the best quarterback in the NFL,” Joyner wrote.

Putting aside that Joyner – along with many analysts around the country – took Flacco’s quote out of context (he didn’t actually rank NFL QBs, he was simply saying all players have to believe they are the best in order to be successful), it seems unconventional to base a player’s over/under rating on their personal view of themselves. There could be an argument made for Flacco being overconfident, but overrated seems like the wrong description.

Joyner also argues that Flacco isn’t even ranked among the upper half of the league, using vertical yards per attempt (success on passes 11-plus yards downfield) and stretch vertical average (passes over 20 yards downfield) as justification. Flacco ranks 25th and 26th in those categories, respectively, but should they be used to measure overall quarterback success and rankings? Seems too narrow to me.

In addition to Flacco, Joyner named Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham, Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, New York Jets tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore and Browns cornerback Joe Haden as the other overrated players in the AFC.

Rice: Flacco Outplayed Brady In AFC Championship

Rice saw a trend in opposing defenses during the playoffs last January.

He said the defending units would sometimes pay more attention to the ground game and dare Flacco to beat them through the air. And when they did, Flacco responded.

“It was his show,” Rice told 790 The Zone in Atlanta, per SportsRadioInterviews.com. “It was his show on offense and as much credit that I was getting and as much respect I was getting from defenses, all Joe really had to do is prove that we can drive the ball down the field and score, and he did that.”

Rice compared his quarterback’s performance during the AFC title game to the Patriots’ Tom Brady, a future Hall of Famer.

“Quite frankly, he outplayed Tom Brady the last game,” he said. “He outplayed Tom Brady, and Tom Brady — he’s the trademark for a quarterback. So Joe Flacco feeling the way he feels is only right, because he did it on a high level. He did it on the peak of his performance.”

Flacco completed 22 of 36 passes for 306 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the 23-20 loss. It would have been three touchdowns and a win had receiver Lee Evens held on to the game-winning touchdown pass in the game’s final seconds. Meanwhile, Brady also completed 22 of 36 passes, but for 239 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Just to further drive home my point from above – that Flacco is more underrated than overrated – NFL.com’s Marc Sessler doesn’t think Flacco deserves all the credit for outplaying Brady.

“Should we also mention that Brady had to face Terrell Suggs and a bunch of rowdies?” he asked. “Flacco, meanwhile, faced the NFL’s second-worst pass defense, a unit littered with reformed wideouts and castoffs.

“A rematch is in order.”

Ravens’ Hidden Treasure: Tight Ends

The Ravens tight end duo of Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta hasn’t received much hype this offseason, but ESPN’s Jamison Hensley believes they will exceed expectations.

As such, the two are Baltimore’s “hidden treasure.”

“The Baltimore Ravens made a risky move when they decided to cut Todd Heap last season and went with two inexperienced tight ends,” Hensely wrote. “The result: Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta more than held their own. …

“The problem is, no one outside of the division really noticed what Dickson and Pitta did. That’s what happens when New England is putting up big numbers with its tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who were both taken in the same draft as Dickson and Pitta. While no one is saying Dickson and Pitta will become as prolific as the Patriots’ tight ends, there’s a sense that the Ravens only scratched the surface with their duo.”

Most of the chatter this offseason has centered on Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and the candidates fighting for the No. 3 receiver spot.

But Dickson and Pitta proved to be important weapons for Flacco last year in the red zone and pressure situations, both ranking among the AFC’s top 15 in third-down catches.

“Now, Baltimore has to get them more consistently involved the rest of the time,” Hensley concluded.

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