Ravens

Quick Links

Is flag football ahead for NFL?

201301291027376743158-p2.jpeg

Is flag football ahead for NFL?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Making the game safer is making NFL players unsure what's a legal hit.

Players on both Super Bowl teams say they are confused about which hits are considered clean and which ones could lead to a fine. And it's not just the guys on defense who are wondering about the future of pro football.

``I think the rules will change a lot,'' San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said Tuesday. ``There's already no helmet to helmet. Might be flag football, maybe.''

Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, one of the league's hardest hitters, warned against trying to take collisions out of the game, as long as they are clean.

``You can't play this game and not expect it to be physical,'' said Pollard, who was fined $15,250 for a hit on Patriots receiver Wes Welker in the AFC championship game that Pollard believes was within the rules. ``There will be injuries in football. There's a car crash on every play.''

His 49ers counterpart, All-Pro Dashon Goldson, says defenders keep this in mind when they take the field:

``Do your best and then hope you don't get a letter (with a fine) in your locker on Wednesday.''

The NFL has sought to eliminate any hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players, particularly in the last three years. It also has banned players launching themselves helmet-first toward an opponent.

Yet, every week, players are fined for those actions, and there have been suspensions. Baltimore safety Ed Reed drew a one-game suspension this season that was lifted by the NFL on appeal and turned into a $50,000 fine for repeated illegal tackles. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Reed is not considered a vicious hitter.

Reed admits he can't be sure what's a true tackle these days and what crosses the line.

``A lot needs to be done with it. I don't think every fine is right,'' he said. ``You have to go back and really look at how guys play the game before you judge them, is what I'm trying to say.''

While still recognizing the importance of keeping games as safe as possible, defensive players have complained for years about the league's crackdown on hits. The 49ers and Ravens have two of the most physical defenses in the NFL, and they are proud of their violent nature.

``You can't play timid,'' Goldson said.

But even offensive players concede that defenses are at a disadvantage to the point of confusion.

Baltimore's Anquan Boldin, one of the more physical wide receivers in the league, doesn't feel sorry for anyone trying to tackle him. But he understands their plight as they close in.

`` All defensive players have to deal with that,'' Boldin said. ``It's tough on defensive players on those defenseless receiver calls because they come in and then the receiver drops his shoulder and they hit in the (head). And they get a penalty.

``So maybe they aren't sure and that's bad. This game is played too fast to worry about that, but they do have to worry.''

The NFL isn't going to back down on its emphasis on player safety, of course. It is facing at least 175 lawsuits as more than 3,800 players have sued the league over head injuries as the concussion issue has gained attention in recent years. The total number of plaintiffs is 6,000 when spouses, relatives and other representatives are included.

So the emphasis on eliminating what Ray Anderson, the league's main disciplinarian, calls ``egregious fouls'' will remain.

``We will just not let up,'' Anderson told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ``Get used to it, this will be our mantra: We have an obligation in being relentless in protecting our players.

``If they are in a defenseless position, hitting in the helmet is unnecessary. We said player health and safety is our No. 1 priority from the get-go and we have stuck to it with no apologies and no defensive attitude about it.''

Meantime, as offenses make scoreboards spin with record numbers of points, defenses try to figure out exactly what they are allowed to do.

``We are guys who are supposed to hit,'' said 49ers safety Donte Whitner, who is known for his bone-crunching tackles. ``We have to bring the element of fear when they come over the middle. We want receivers to think do you really want to keep coming over the middle time and time again.

``We need to make sure they don't want to, but we need to do it the right way. But we need to figure out the right way.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

The Ravens rarely make in-season trades — Marcus Peters was an exception

The Ravens rarely make in-season trades — Marcus Peters was an exception

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens rarely make in-season trades to bring in another player that will contribute right away. 

Marcus Peters was an exception to the rule.

On Tuesday, the Ravens brought in Peters in exchange for Kenny Young and a 2020 5th round pick. It was just the seventh time in the last nine years that they’ve acquired a player from September through the end of the season.

“We always appreciate the way he plays,” coach John Harbaugh said of Peters on Wednesday. “He’s a good fit for our defense, the way we play, the type of techniques we play back there, and we’re just looking forward to getting him to work and getting him up to speed as quickly as possible and rolling.”

But in terms of Peters’ acquisition, the trade is an outlier to the Ravens trade history

Since 2011, the Ravens haven’t spent significant draft capital on an in-season acquisition. There was: Peters, RB Ty Montgomery, OL Tony Bergstrom, OL Luke Bowanko, WR Chris Givens, CB Will Davis and OL Eugene Monroe.

All trades, except for Peters and Monroe, were for 7th round picks. Monroe was traded from Jacksonville to Baltimore for 2014 4th and 5th round picks. 

In short, the Ravens rarely make moves of significant substance once the season begins. Even Bowanko was brought in before the rosters needed to be trimmed down to 53 in 2017. 

But it’s not just acquiring players, it’s giving them away. Since 2011, the Ravens have traded away just one player (guard Nick Easton) after Sept. 1. They received a 2016 conditional 7th round pick for him. 

While the Ravens have made moves in recent months like trading away Joe Flacco, Alex Lewis, Kaare Vedvik and Jermaine Eluemunor, the Peters trade breaks precedent in terms of in-season trades. 

The 5th round pick was the highest draft pick the Ravens have traded away for a player since 2017, when the Ravens traded away the 99th pick in the NFL Draft, as well as Timmy Jernigan, for the 74th overall pick — which became Chris Wormley.

There might’ve been rumors about a potential Jalen Ramsey trade, but when it comes to giving up significant assets to acquire a player during the season, that’s just not what the Ravens are in the business of doing.

That’s why the Peters move made sense — the Ravens gave away a player that fell out of their plans for relatively low draft pick. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Ravens’ big play problem, and how they’re looking to create more explosive plays

The Ravens’ big play problem, and how they’re looking to create more explosive plays

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ offense has a newfound problem. 

Since week one of the season against the hapless Dolphins, the Ravens haven’t been able to generate big plays at the same rate. Starting in week two, they’ve got just 20 offensive plays of 20 yards or more.

And with Marquise Brown currently out of the lineup, that’s becoming a bigger issue.

“Marquise can definitely affect the game that way, but we’ve got guys that can do it as well,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “A lot of it starts with how the defense chooses to play, but we’re always looking for more for sure. It’s definitely a focus of ours, I would say. There’s a lot of different ways to do it.”

Baltimore started the season with a bang in Miami and hung 59 points on a terrible Dolphins team. Since then, though, the explosive plays have dried up. 

The Ravens have just four rushing plays of 20-yards or more since week two — three came last week against the Bengals. 

Lamar Jackson threw five passes that ended with gains of 20 yards or more in the second week of the season against the Cardinals, but that number has decreased by one each week to just one passing play over 20 yards last week against the Bengals. 

In the only three passing plays of 20 yards or more against the Browns, all came in the last drive of the game when the game’s outcome was already decided. 

“You're not going to throw behind them if they're back,” coach John Harbaugh said on Sept. 30, a day after the Browns game. “So, you just have to make plays. If a team is going to play that kind of defense — you want to call it 'bend-but-don't-break,' whatever you want to call it —and they're basically challenging you to go down the field and have a long drive and score a touchdown.”

Since the first three weeks of the season, however, teams have been afraid of the Ravens speed and forced Jackson to beat them deep. For the most part, it’s worked.

Jackson threw 21 passes more than 20 yards in the air in the first three weeks of the season. He went 8-of-21 in those weeks with two touchdowns (both against Miami) but is 0-for-7 with two interceptions since the Chiefs game. 

Overall, Jackson is 8-of-28 (28.5 completion percentage) with two touchdowns and two interceptions when throwing for more than 20 yards in the air. 

With defenses putting a cover on the Ravens offense, they’ve been forced to settle for shorter, high-percentage plays. At least to an extent, it’s been efficient. 

The Ravens offensive DVOA, a measure of how efficient an offense is, is 13.3 percent which ranks fourth in the NFL behind Seattle, Dallas and Kansas City, according to footballoutsiders.com.

While the Ravens offense hasn’t suffered because of the lack of big plays, there’s a chance that day could come if teams shut down their quick game.

Additionally, a few extra explosive plays per week are what could turn this offense from very good to great.

“There’s some plays I think we could’ve hit on the last couple weeks, we can do a little better with and that’s something we need to work at,” Roman said. “But I think every week is a little bit different, so we’ll see how this one goes.”

MORE RAVENS NEWS: