Back in the days of my youth we would often play pickup football games in the park, playground, back alley or even out on the streets.
“Go to the Pinto and do a button hook.”
Sometimes during the pickup games there might be a debate over the outcome of a play. The NFL solves such debates with the use of replay. As a kid, we solved them with, “take it over!”
And so we did. “Take it over” is the forefather of the modern day “do over”.
The tall, lanky gunslinger has earned the moniker “Bazooka Joe”. But his accuracy has been off in 2016, particularly on passes beyond 20 yards. Perhaps the nickname Nuke LaLoosh is more appropriate.
In the shot above we see the Ravens franchise quarterback setting up behind a nice wall, with ample time and space to set and deliver the 9-route to Mike Wallace down the right sideline.
Wallace has a step on cornerback Anthony Brown who also has his back to Flacco. The QB only needs to lead the fleet-footed receiver to create more separation. The added bonus for Flacco is that the safety is late and can’t get to Wallace in time to help out Brown even if Flacco places the ball along the left shoulder of Wallace.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, the ball is underthrown and too far towards the sidelines on Wallace’s back shoulder. The receiver must slow down to adjust to the poorly thrown ball, allowing the corner to not only catch up but also turn his head to locate the pass.
The adjustment is made and Wallace hauls in the slightly errant throw but his momentum eventually carries him out of bounds. The Ravens lose an opportunity to go up by 7 just before the half ends.
In Flacco’s defense he is just a year removed from tearing his left ACL but in an effort to keep his leg clean, bad habits have developed. He too often throws off his back foot and when he does have ample time and space to plant, step into his throws and unleash that rocket, he fails to let plays develop and fails to see other opportunities that open up downfield.
In the 4th quarter at the 10:11 mark while facing a 1st and 10 from the Dallas 35 and down 24-10, Flacco locks in on Pitta immediately after the snap and tries to hit him on a hook at the 32. Despite time to read through his progressions and given the rather insignificant gain, the quarterback chucks it to Pitta anyway. The pass is batted down at the line of scrimmage, in part because of Flacco’s stare down.
A look to the top of the picture shows Breshad Perriman blowing by the defender before the ball comes out. It’s unlikely that the safety cheating up could recover in time to assist on the speedy Perriman.
On this play Flacco rolls right and again he’s locked in on Pitta who is covered. Yet nearly in the same sight line Wallace is behind the linebackers and past his man. Flacco opts for the tightly covered Pitta and the pass falls incomplete.
Facing a 1st and 10 from his own 41 at the 7:31 mark of the first quarter, Flacco rolls right and hits Kamar Aiken for a 5-yard gain. The ball is slightly behind Aiken who adjusts but during the adjustment Sean Lee closes in to minimize the damage.
If Flacco waits longer – and he certainly had the time to do so, he could have delivered the ball further down field to the streaking Aiken. BUT…
On the other side of the field, there is Kenneth Dixon (bottom of the screen) who ran a wheel route off the fake handoff. We’ve seen the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson look around the field for the biggest opportunity off a boot with ample time and space and deliver big. Hopefully the Ravens coaching staff has pointed this out to Joe for future reference.
Down 17-10, the Ravens faced an important third down conversion attempt. Here we see Flacco again with plenty of time to throw lock in on Wallace running a slant just beyond the line of scrimmage. Note Kyle Juszczyk leaking out to the right.
Here’s a different angle of the same play just as Flacco releases the ball. Safety JJ Wilcox (27) is watching Flacco’s eyes and is cheating up to make a play on Wallace. The hard-hitting safety eventually takes Wallace down after only a 2-yard gain forcing a punt.
Once again we’re witnessing Flacco’s unnecessarily quick trigger finger. With ample time and space to survey the field, and if he doesn’t lock in on Wallace, out to his right Flacco has an easy toss to Juszczyk (red arrow) for the first down and more.
Here we see Flacco using the very adequate protection to his advantage and with his eyes he baits Lee (50) and draws defenders away from his intended target, Terrance West who as you can see is dashing towards the sideline.
Flacco misfires the easy throw as the ball bounces behind West with the closest defender 10 yards away. A catch and a perhaps a broken tackle could have rewarded the Ravens with a significant gain.
With the clock ticking down and the Ravens in desperation mode given the 27-17 deficit, Flacco guides the 2:00 offense and hits Dennis Pitta for an 8-yard gain at the 1:40 mark with no timeouts to burn. Perriman is running a corner route and admittedly it would take a well-timed pitch and catch to pick up about 18 yards and get out of bounds, but even an incomplete pass to the WR is better than a completion and the loss of valuable time — 25 seconds to be exact before they got off the next play.
Clearly there’s a lot that from that Dallas game that Flacco would love to have back and there’s little wonder why he felt the Ravens should have beaten the Cowboys. They missed on many opportunities to beat a very average defense.
But let’s end on a positive note…
This is the Ravens first play from scrimmage in the second half. With this formation Marty Mornhinweg’s unit shows run and Flacco, Juszczyk and West all sell it well – so much so that it attracts 8 defenders and another (not pictured) begins to flow towards Wallace.
Flacco isn’t normally the best salesman but on this play he does a nice job and his body language suggests run. Now you can see the 9 defenders as the corner engages Wallace.
Downfield, with the Cowboys only other 2 defenders is Steve Smith, about to make the 1,000 catch of his illustrious career. The play goes for 22 yards but it isn’t perfect. Despite the clean pocket and passing lane, Flacco’s throw is slightly behind Smith. If Joe hits Smith in stride, there’s a ton of real estate to navigate and it’s possible that Senior finds his way into the Cowboys end zone.
Unfortunately, 3 plays later the Ravens marched Sam Koch out onto the field.
Let’s hope the Ravens can clean this up moving forward.
They’ve got 6 take-it-overs left.