Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Joe Flacco
Posted on: January 22, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Report: Cam Cameron, Ravens could part ways

Flacco has been scrutinized this season but some of the blame is on Cameron. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

On Friday, we wrote that the Ravens' offensive struggles, and Joe Flacco's in particular, might have less to do with the quarterback and more to do with the guy responsible for setting the formations and calling the plays. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has been a favorite target of unhappy fans and media critics pretty much since Baltimore drafted Flacco in 2008, and now, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the Ravens might choose to let Cameron walk after the season.

Cameron's contract is set to expire and, as Mortensen tweeted Sunday, "Tension with Flacco [is] no secret in [the] building." 

Some of that tension almost certainly has to do with Cameron's vision of what the Ravens' offense should be. NFL Films' Greg Cosell told Yahoo.com recently that "The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage. They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the 'man-beater' concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski echoed Cosell's sentiments during Sunday's NFL Matchup show.

"Cameron must be creative in this matchup [against the Patriots]," he said. "He can not line up in static formations and expect his talent to win. That's not going to happen. What I want to see -- I think we should look for in this game -- clusters, bunch formations, formation variation, motions, picks, rubs -- all those plays designed by Cam to manufacture big plays."

Sounds reasonable until you see this mind-numbing statistic from Football Outsiders: "In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

PFT.com calls Brad Childress an "obvious candidate" to replace Cameron should he not return. Childress spent several years on the Eagles' staff with current Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 9:47 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 9:49 pm
 

NFL Analyst: Ravens look like 1960s offense

Is Cameron responsible for Flacco's lack of consistency? (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Fair or not, quarterback Joe Flacco has been the Ravens' most scrutinized player this season. But that's part of the deal; as an NFL quarterback, he's the face of the franchise and in many respects, the most important cog in a machine built to win Super Bowls. Instead, 2011 has been marked by inconsistency. The results, predictably: fans have lost patience and the organization has yet to offer him a contract extension.

It doesn't help that he has thin skin and rabbit ears, even if he tries to joke that he doesn't pay attention to the criticism. But maybe this isn't all on Flacco.

That should be obvious but sometimes it's easier for fans and media to just wave their arms, lament the quarterback's ineffectiveness and not give it much thought beyond that. But NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar describes as watching "more all-22 film than anyone not currently part of an NFL coaching staff," has a theory for why Flacco has struggled at points this season.

"The Ravens' receiving corps could be the absolute worst in the NFL when it comes to getting open versus man coverage," Cosell told Farrar. "They don't do an awful lot to get them open versus man — you don't see a lot of the stack release concepts, or all the "man-beater" concepts. No bunch, no stack release. No rub elements.


After a win over the Texans last week, Joe Flacco and the Ravens will take on Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game. Watch the game on CBS at 3 PM ET. 

"They don't do a lot to help their receivers win versus man," Cosell continued. "I'm not going to defend Flacco, but I think it's very difficult to … it seemed that last week [against the Houston Texans] the route tree was a go route and a screen. I said this to one of my guys [while I was watching the Baltimore] tape — 'I feel like I'm watching a 1960s offense.' Every play, there was one receiver to the right, and one receiver to the left, often two backs or two tight ends, and that was every play, it seemed."

The other culprit is one familiar to Ravens fans: offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. From Football Outsiders' AFC preview:

"In this era of multiple receivers and shotgun spreads, the Ravens actually run a fairly conventional, old-fashioned offense. Our charting lists the Ravens using two wide receivers on 56 percent of plays, the highest rate in the league."

That doesn't exactly scream innovation. And it's fair to assume that this lack of innovation may have something to do with Flacco's stunted development.

One receiver who appeared frustrated with the Texans' man coverage concepts: rookie deep threat Torrey Smith. Instead of waiting for Cameron to devise a scheme to help him get open, Smith took matters into his own hands. He's intimately familiar with the Patriots. Partly from watching film, but also from -- wait for it -- facing them so often in Madden.

"The biggest thing about New England is my brother always picks them in Madden," Smith said according to The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson. "They pretty much always have the best offense for some years in that game. I play with the Ravens all the time now."

Smith also talked about last spring's draft process, one that saw the Patriots very interested in the former Maryland product.

"I pretty much did everything you could do with New England as far as the draft process goes," he said. "I met with them at the combine, did a private workout, and I saw them around a lot. They have a great coaching staff, and you can see with the way their track record has been they know how to win."

Of course, Smith already knew that. You know, from Madden.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:35 pm
 

Flacco on Reed quotes: 'Not that big of an issue'

Flacco doesn't care what anyone thinks, apparently. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday, Ravens safety Ed Reed had some interesting things to say about Joe Flacco, stating that against the Texans it didn't look like Flacco 'had a hold on the offense.'

The much-maligned quarterback's been frustrated lately, calling out the media before the Houston game, but he said Wednesday that Reed's comments were 'not that big of an issue.'

"It was a little funny to me, I was a little caught off guard," Flacco said when asked about Reed's comments. "But we talked about it, it's not really that big of a deal. When I first saw it, I thought' What's going on?' But like I said, we talked about it, we're a team around here, it's not that big of an issue."

Flacco was asked a follow-up question and responded by asking the media, "You guys aren't going to let it go huh?"

So the media moved on to wondering if Flacco might start getting some respect from fans and the media if he and the Ravens "finally" (our quote, because it's amusing that there's some desperation involved in a four-year stint as a starting quarterback) won a Super Bowl with him under center.

"I don't care," the mustachioed Flacco said. "I'll be wearing a ring and we'll holding a trophy and the perception probably won't change but it doesn't really matter."

Flacco probably cares more about his contract status -- though he says he won't be thinking about it -- which will most certainly change if he ends up holding the Lombardi Trophy. (And will probably change regardless; winning a Super Bowl will just give him lots of leverage.)

Because he's right about how he's treated. He's won five playoff games. He's been to the playoffs four times in four years. Those are usually the issues young quarterbacks deal with when it comes to developing a negative reputation around the NFL. Flacco, instead, is guilty of having too good a defense and too good a running game, as well as not being a guy that a team can just let throw the ball 60 times.

Yes, we're totally guilty of calling him out on those counts. (Although our colleague Mike Freeman got Flacco's back in Wednesday's 10-Point Stance.) We have no problem with that. And Flacco shouldn't either -- there are worse crosses to bear in life.

But he should also understand what these next two games mean to his reputation, his contract status and his teammates: everything.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 9:05 pm
 

Forget the media: Flacco now has to convince Reed

FlaccoBy Josh Katzowitz

A few days go, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco called out the media, saying, "I’m sure if we win (vs. the Texans), I’ll have nothing to do with why we won according to you guys.”

Then, Flacco went out and showed that he was exactly right. With his 14-of-27, 176-yard, two-touchdown, five-sack performance, he didn't have much to do with the reason Baltimore advanced to the AFC title game vs. the Patriots.

Now, instead of calling out anybody, his own teammates are sticking it to Flacco himself.

“They had a lot of guys in the box on him and they were giving it to him. I think a couple of times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense,” safety Ed Reed said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t know how much of [that was] the play calling … but it just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past.

"It was just kind of like they [were] telling him [what] to do -- throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys.”

And as anybody who watched the game last weekend, Reed realizes Flacco needs to play a tiny bit better against New England to have a chance to upset the Patriots.

“He can’t play like that,” Reed said. “One specific play that sticks out to me was when Ray Rice came out and got pushed out of the backfield and [Flacco] still threw him the ball and he had Torrey Smith on the outside. I can see that sitting on the sideline or sitting in the stands. You don’t know what someone else is seeing.”

Flacco wasn’t the only one to draw the ire of Reed. The safety also said the offensive line has to block better. But now on Sunday, Flacco doesn’t only have to win the respect of the media (not that he cares). He has to win over his own teammates.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:50 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Jim Caldwell fired by Colts

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Jim Caldwell was fired on Tuesday by the Colts. Right before we were about to record a podcast, which is fortunate for everyone involved.

Well, except Caldwell. We broke down why this happened, what it means for Peyton Manning, what it means for the Colts going forward, who could replace Caldwell as the Colts coach.

We also talk to our good friend Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk and get him to rank the remaining quarterbacks in the playoffs, discuss whether Joe Flacco should get paid, whether any veteran would want to join Tim Tebow in Denver and much, much more.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 11:07 am
 

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

A rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl is almost likely at this point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Earlier this month we took a look at the odds for teams to win the Super Bowl, just before the playoffs began. If you bet on the 49ers (+1200), you're feeling pretty good about life. If you bet on the Packers (+16), well, not so much.

The odds have been recalibrated in advance of the AFC and NFC Championship Games so let's take a look at who's likely (and unlikely) to win the Super Bowl. Plus: hypothetical Super Bowl matchups! All odds courtesy of Sportsbook.com.

Odds to Win the Super Bowl

Team: New England Patriots
Super Bowl Odds: +120
Value of Bet: 4
What Has to Happen: The Pats defense has to show up for at least one more game and Tom Brady needs to keep being the angry, destructive cyborg that he was in the first half against the Broncos. The Patriots are a shockingly high favorite here given that they've got to win two games like everyone else, and given that the Ravens stomped their faces the last time Baltimore came to New England.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: Under on the longest touchdown of the game at 47.5. Both the Ravens and the Patriots give up long plays, but if you look at each of their last five games, most shots have been taken from 40 yards in. Only Torrey Smith represents a true "deep threat" on either team.

Team: San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl Odds: +325
Value of Bet: 2
What Has to Happen: Alex Smith keeps getting his Joe Montana on. The defense has to play well, of course, but roughing up the Giants is different than roughing up the Saints; New Orleans is a finesse team (no offense to Drew Brees and Sean Payton). Once Pierre Thomas was knocked out, they struggled to punch the 49ers in the mouth. The Giants won't have the same problem and are infinitely tougher. Smith successfully orchestrating the offense gives San Francisco a tremendous advantage.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: Super Bowl UNDER at 50. You think 50 points are getting scored if we get 49ers vs. Ravens? It's not even a total backfire if the Giants make it: only once since 2005 (last year, in fact) has the Super Bowl gone over 50 points total.

Team: New York Giants
Super Bowl Odds: +325
Value of Bet: 3
What Has to Happen: The secondary needs to keep shutting folks down; they've done a tremendous job improving over the past four weeks or so. Also, Gregg Doyel pointed out that the Giants wanted to get physical with Jermichael Finley during the Packers game. They will need to do something similar with Vernon Davis (and then possibly Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez) if they plan on winning the Super Bowl. At the very least, they shouldn't leave Vernon in one-on-one coverage.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: Giants +4.5 versus Patriots in a hypothetical Super Bowl. Yes, you can bet on this. Crazy right? Already, no one believes in the Giants. Good times! (All future SB matchups listed below.

Team: Baltimore Ravens
Super Bowl Odds: +600
Value of Bet: 1
What Has to Happen: Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron have to get it together for two games and do their jobs more efficiently. Were it not for Jacoby Jones gifting the Ravens a touchdown on Sunday, Flacco might be the goat for a huge upset right now, and Cameron throwing with two minutes remaining and Houston trying to use their timeouts gave the Texans an additional possession. Do that against, say, Brady and Eli, and it'll burn you.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: The under on Ray Rice's rushing attempts. I don't even know what it is but I know Cameron will find a way to go under regardless.

Hypothetical Super Bowl Matchups
Patriots (-6.5) vs. 49ers: That's not a surprising line considering how strong the Patriots looked and it would generate a lot of action on each side of the ball. However, if the 49ers look good in taking down the Giants, I'd think this would open up closer to 3 than 7.

Patriots (-4.5) vs. Giants: The Giants would be somewhat surprising underdogs considering their strong run but remember that last time they were 12.5-point dogs (!) against the Patriots. So maybe this more reasonable. Best guess: the Giants would get a LOT of action and push this line down.

Ravens (-2) vs. 49ers: A two-point line means "We have no real idea, but I guess we like the Ravens." The over/under isn't listed but you best believe it's lower than the current line of 50. Defensive matchups like this put a lot of the weight on Flacco and Smith which is why no one knows.

Giants (-1) vs. Ravens: Again, no one knows. I'd personally love the Giants in this situation, because as hot as they've been, this line seems destined to climb. Plus, if you've got two really good defenses, don't you want the team with the elite quarterback? (That's not you, Joe Flacco.)

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 15, 2012 8:14 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 9:27 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Best Super Bowl matchup?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Pick-Six Podcast Divisional Round recap below and don't forget to subscribe via iTunes.

Ranking the Possible Super Bowl Matchups

Although there were some fairly drama-free games in the NFL playoffs thus far, there's no question we've been treated to some serious story-lining; Alex Smith's redemption alone was worth the price of admission. And with only three games remaining in the NFL season, we've narrowed the group of teams down a group of four elite squads that should produce an action-packed storyline.

But how do the matchups stack up in terms of watchability, entertainment value and general awesomeness? Here's my ranking:

1. Patriots vs. Giants
It's impossible to underscore how dramatic this matchup would be: after the Giants lost to the undefeated Packers 38-35, there was chatter of how this season looked eerily familiar to 2007 ... when the Giants upended the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in a game that was one of the most memorable Super Bowls in NFL history.

That was the last time the Patriots made the Super Bowl and since then, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have come under fire for not winning playoff games. The Pats won't be worried about their perfect season anymore, of course, but the Giants look very similar to the team that won the Super Bowl in 2007, thanks to a dominant pass rush and Eli Manning truly elevating his game.

The storyline, which would consist primarily of the word "revenge," might get a bit stale, but there would be an incredible amount of players with stories from that year and an ax to grind.

If you root for drama, star power and some trash talk, this is the matchup you want to see.

2. Ravens vs. Giants
The last time these teams faced off in the Super Bowl, Ray Lewis was Super Bowl MVP and the Baltimore defense had their way with Kerry Collins, picking him off four times en route to a 34-7 blowout.

Also: Tiki Barber was relevant, if that tells you anything about how long ago that was.

From a football perspective, this could be a high-scoring game that will go either way; a good game from Joe Flacco would probably result in a Ravens win, but no one will bank on that, so the Giants will be favored (maybe 4.5 points?).

Both teams are explosive enough on offense, but even more explosive on defense. We'd see points, but we'd also see plenty of smashmouth football. If someone got out to a big lead, the game wouldn't necessarily be over -- seeing Eli lead a comeback against the vaunted Ravens defense would be entertaining as all get-out.

And the chatter leading up to the game would be simply amazing. Jason Pierre-Paul, Antrel Rolle, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis? If you're a media member, you should be drooling at the quotability factor for this one.

3. Patriots vs. 49ers
The fact that these two teams play such contrasting styles could set the Super Bowl up for an interesting and perplexing matchup, but it's hard to believe that the Pats would be favored by less than a touchdown in this scenario.

Maybe San Francisco could pull off the upset: we've already seen that they can keep Drew Brees and the Saints down if given two weeks to prepare. And they'll absolutely be given the "no one believes in us" card if such a matchup takes place.

Here's the problem though: as good as Alex Smith looked on Saturday late, he didn't look like Brady did later that night. The 49ers are one of the few teams in the NFL that can, theoretically, match up in their base formation against the Pats tight ends.

But if Angry Brady show up again (and, we have to assume he showed up against the Ravens if they're here), this game could look like the last time the 49ers made the Super Bowl, only in reverse.

4. Ravens vs. 49ers
In terms of pure on-field entertainment value, this is a nightmare situation. Both the 49ers and Ravens succeed by running the ball and playing defense so it makes zero sense for this matchup to actually happen, given the importance of quarterback play in the NFL and the high-powered offenses we've seen so far in 2012.

Yes, their coaches are freaking brothers and there's no question that Harbaugh Bowl 2.0 -- the pair dueled it out on Thanksgiving night -- would provide an incredible amount of entertainment in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

But how quickly would the "They're Related!" storyline get old? It might take a day, maybe two tops. Trust me, with that much free time you'll be sick of it before media day even happens, and don't even get me started on the players.

There's some star power here, but it's primarily on the defensive end with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith (if anyone knows who he is anyway) and the like.

Joe Flacco versus Alex Smith? Yuck. We'd be treated to a defensive battle along the likes of that 16-6 Ravens victory on Turkey Day. Or the BCS Championship Game.

On the bright side, at least the teams would've gotten there through a playoff. (Read: legitimately.)

Winners

Alex Smith: Sports are funny, because moments -- not careers -- ultimately tend to define certain players. Smith is one of those players and a pair of moments on Saturday -- his 28-yard touchdown run and then "The Snatch" in the end zone -- redefined his career. He could blossom into one of the next great NFL quarterbacks or he could sign a big contract and become a bust again. It won't matter, because Saturday's game will always remain a turning point of some point. Smith likely won't ever justify his draft slot or being taken over Aaron Rodgers, but Saturday was an unbelievable redemption story.

Eli Manning
: Manning was, in my brain, approximately 145 for 146 on third down on Sunday night against the Packers. Every time Green Bay got him in a bad spot, the dude sat back in the pocket, waited until things opened up, and drilled a beautiful pass to a wide-open receiver. He's had an amazing season that could've been even better, and he's finally getting the credit he deserves.

Marques Colston
: Colston's set to be an unrestricted free agent, and the lasting memory he provided potential suitors was an outstanding effort, as he caught nine balls for 136 yards and a toe-tapping touchdown that was basically the only time a Saints player got deep in the first half on Saturday. If the Saints don't reach a long-term deal with Drew Brees, they'll have to franchise him, and that means Colston can get loose on the market and make a pile of money.

Bill Belichick: All season long the chatter was that Belichick's defense would hinder the Patriots from winning a Super Bowl. Maybe that's true -- we'll find out next Sunday against Baltimore. But the the Broncos were supposed to have a physical running game right? And the blew up the Steelers defense? Right? Belichick showed why he's a defensive genius and one of the all-time great coaches in that blowout.

Hakeem Nicks: Thanks to Victor Cruz' breakout season in 2011, Nicks kind of got loss in the shuffle. He shouldn't have: his performance against Green Bay was stunning, and broke off a 66-yard, gazelle-like touchdown run and then broke the Packers spirit with a Hail-Mary catch at the end of the half. His final line? Seven catches, 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Jenkins got abused by Davis all day long. (Getty Images)

Losers

Malcolm Jenkins: You might want to pick on Roman Harper for getting worked over by Vernon Davis in the end zone on the final touchdown, but Jenkins is the reason the Niners even had a shot. First there's the teardrop Alex Smith dropped over Jenkins into Davis' outstretched arms before his now famous touchdown run. Then there's Jenkins coverage on Davis across the middle when he picked up 47 yards on the 49ers final drive. Burnt toast anyone? (Screenshots via Dave Cariello of Canal Street Chronicles.)

Jacoby Jones
:
Dude tried to field a punt off a hop inside his own 20 on the Texans second possession of the game, didn't field it cleanly, got rocked, fumbled the ball and gave the Ravens a free touchdown. In case you missed it, the Ravens won by seven points.

Cam Cameron
: With the Texans holding two timeouts, 3:04 left in the game and the Ravens up four and in the Texans red zone, Cameron called for two pass plays. Both passes were incomplete and the Ravens kicked a field goal with 2:56 left. They burned eight seconds and didn't make the Texans use a timeout. Then on third and a half-inch with 1:38 remaining, Cameron called for a Vonta Leach run, instead of having his fullback block for Ray Rice. There never should've been enough time for a second possession for Houston in the first place.

NFL Officials: For two consecutive weekends, the NFL officiating has been, quite simply, terrible. The guys in stripes have a really difficult job, made even more difficult in today's world where jerks take pictures of their televisions and post them to Twitter. But during the NFL playoffs, the quality of work done by the zebras has really highlighted some of the flaws in the way in-game rules are applied in football. Something's gotta change.

Tim Tebow: We'd also accept John Elway or John Fox here, because the offseason's going to be miserable for all three of them despite winning a division title and a playoff game. Tebow's poor showing against the Patriots means everyone's got to wonder if he can be a "real" quarterback for the Broncos and as such, every time Fox, Elway or Tebow get anywhere near a microphone, they'll be asked about Tebow's status. It will unquestionably be annoying by the time next season starts.

State Farm: You guys really going to keep running the "Discount Double Check" commercials for the next month? Because that's going to be more awkward than Pepsi Max running Rex Ryan halftime speeches after the Jets miss the playoffs. (Please don't raise my insurance rates though.)

The Big Questions

 
Plenty of questions still remain about Flacco. (AP)

1. Did Joe Flacco answer his critics on Sunday?
Nope. The playcalling was bad and the Texans have a really good defense, but Flacco looked pretty awful all things considered. His two touchdown passes were nice, but were it not for some sick catches from his receivers, Flacco's numbers (14 of 27 for 176 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) would've been much worse. It's not all his fault this game was so close, but an elite performance would've resulted in a blowout.

2. Should Alex Smith have fallen down before scoring late Saturday?
Yes. This debate livened up our Twitter followers on Saturday evening, but the reality is, with the 49ers down 24-23 and Smith should've fallen to the ground, let the Niners melt the clock, force the Saints to use their timeouts, and the kick a field goal with, in the best-case scenario, no time remaining. Instead, Drew Brees got the ball back with 1:51 remaining and had time to score. Of course, he also scored too quickly, giving Smith time to cement his comeback legacy in San Francisco, but that's beside the point. Smith going down could have iced the game away, we just wouldn't have gotten all that drama.

3. Is it time for Gregg Williams to get out of town?
Probably. Williams shouldn't be the scapegoat for New Orleans lack of success, because he called a heck of a game on Saturday against the 49ers. With the Saints offense struggling, Williams defense kept the Saints in the game by limiting the 49ers points off turnovers. But because Smith drove the Niners to two scores in the last 150 seconds, you can bet that Williams will get a lot of the blame. He's got an easy out by joining Jeff Fisher with the Rams and he should probably jump on that.

4. Do we need full-time referees?
NO. Wilson and I batted this idea around some on chat (and talked about it on the podcast), but why would giving referees more money and job security equate to an incentive for them to be right more often? It doesn't. Giving them more time to learn the rules and properly apply them? Yeah, that would be great. It would also be great if the NFL made applying the rules in a fashion that doesn't screw up the game more practical, but that's another story for another day.

5. Is being a wild-card in the playoffs better?
Maybe? I dunno. I do know this: you look at the Packers and you look at the Giants. One team basically got three weeks off and cooled down from an unholy hot streak. The other team squeaked into the playoffs and got hot, playing their best football at the right time. The latter team, the Giants, are still alive.

6. Is Tom Coughlin still on the hot seat?

LOL. Also, LOL at Giants fans who wanted Coughlin fired and/or put on the hot seat when the Giants were losing to the Saints-49ers-Packers in succession, with a surprising win against the Patriots mixed in. Give the dude an extension already, he deserves it.

7. Will you please provide a picture of Andy Reid in the Punt/Pass/Kick contest?
Thought you'd never ask. Every single time the contest winners are shown on television, I can't help but think of this amazing photo:



8. How good can the 49ers offense be?

Very good. I think -- the progression of Vernon Davis and Alex Smith over the course of the season leads me to believe Harbaugh would be smart to bring his signal caller back, keep some continuity and let the pieces on the offense grow into the system even more, like they did throughout the year. It's quite possible they could end up being potent.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Decent catch by Arian Foster here:

Worth 1,000 Words


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 15, 2012 4:54 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 5:19 pm
 

Ravens want Rice, Flacco might have to wait

Flacco and Rice are looking for new deals, although one is more likely than the other to get it this offseason. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Here's what we wrote 24 hours ago:

Running back Ray Rice is in the last few weeks of his rookie contract and it's no secret that he's looking for a new deal. And given his importance to the Ravens' offense, he deserves it. We're guessing the two sides will come to an agreement in this offseason, although the Titans' Chris Johnson has completely obliterated the market for do-everything feature backs.

During Sunday's CBS pregame show, The NFL Today's Charley Casserly spoke about Rice's future in Baltimore.


CBS Sports' James Brown is joined by Charley Casserly to discuss the contract status of Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice for next season.

"The Ravens told me, obviously, it's the No. 1 priority to get him re-signed for the next year," Casserly said. "I think his agent's going to ask for a big contract, north of $10 million. If they don't get a deal done before the start of free agency, they will franchise him at $7.7 million. Another key free agent is guard Ben Grubbs. Last year they paid Marshall Yanda a lot of money to play guard and he can also play tackle so Grubbs may end up going to free agency."

But Rice isn't the only player in Baltimore looking to re-up. Quarterback Joe Flacco will have a year left on his contract after the 2011 season, but like most franchise quarterbacks, he'd like an extension in place before he becomes a free agent. Two weeks ago he spoke to the Baltimore Sun about any impending deal.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's either going to happen at some point or it's not. The bottom line is I'm not too worried about it either way. Do I feel like I deserve one? Yeah. Do I feel like I'm going to get one? Yeah. If I don't get one, is it going to be a huge deal? No, it is what it is. It's not really up to me. It's up to me to go out there and focus on my play each and every game and put our team in the best spot to win a football game."

Here's what we wrote Saturday:

Flacco likes to remind his critics that the Ravens have gone to the playoffs in each of his four seasons, and have put together back-to-back 12-4 campaigns. That's nice, but the bottom line is winning a Super Bowl. Baltimore hasn't come close and part of that lies with Flacco. If he plays well during the playoffs, he'll be in line for a raise; if he plays like he did against the Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks or Chargers, the club could choose to reevaluate things after he plays out the final year of his rookie deal.

A day later, NFL.com's Jason La Canfora says pretty much the same thing.

"According to sources close to him, the quarterback also knows that any real leverage in negotiations only will be gained during the playoffs after a season in which he failed to reach many of his 2010 marks," La Canfora wrote. ... "The likelihood of Flacco receiving a new contract rises if he makes strides during this postseason, and it could create more pressure on the organization to get a deal done. If he doesn't perform well, it will be much more likely that he must play out the duration of his rookie deal."

Things didn't get off to a great start against the Texans. The Ravens won the AFC Divisional game, but they needed four turnovers and a last second incompletion to do it. Flacco ended the afternoon 14 of 27 for 176 yards and two touchdowns, but having done nothing to change the perception that he's capable of being a consistently effective NFL quarterback.

So does Flacco deserve an extension? And if so, how much? The Cardinals and Chiefs overpaid Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel ($63 million, $20 guaranteed; and $63 million, $28 million guaranteed, respectively). That's probably Flacco's ballpark, although that seems like a lot of money to tie up in a guy who completed just 57 percent of his passes in 2011. And his 20 touchdowns and 80.9 passer rating were his lowest totals since his rookie season. 


Baltimore Ravens' QB, Joe Flacco, completed 14 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-13 victory over the Houston Texans. Join CBS Sports' Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf for a recap of all the action.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com