baltimore ravens

Ravens reportedly tried to trade entire draft class to get Matt Ryan in 2008

In 2007, the Ravens went 5-11 and that, coupled with the lack of development from 2003 first-round pick Kyle Boller, had a lot to do with the team’s decision to fire Brian Billick. In Atlanta, first-year coach Bobby Petrino quit after 13 games and the Falconslimped to a 4-12 record. Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich all started games that season.

Both teams headed into the 2008 NFL Draft desperately in search of a franchise quarterback. The Falcons had the No. 3 pick while the Ravens were No. 8. It was no great secret that Atlanta had designs on Matt Ryan, who had starred at Boston College, but Baltimore wasn’t going to let him go without a fight.

According to‘s Ian Rapoport, the Ravens talked with the Rams, who had the second-overall pick, about swapping places so they could leapfrog the Falcons in the race to Ryan. So what was on the table?

Rapoport says the Ravens offered their entire draft class to the Rams, adding that “The trade nearly happened, but the Rams asked for more — they also wanted Baltimore’s second-round pick from 2009 to clinch the deal.”

That was the deal-breaker, apparently, and instead the Ravens traded down to the No. 26 pick (with the Jaguars) and then back up to No. 18 (with the Texans) where they selected Joe Flacco.

As points out, the Ravens ended up with a strong class:

Rd. 1 Pick 18: QB Joe Flacco
Rd. 2 Pick 55: RB Ray Rice
Rd. 3 Pick 71: LB Tavares Gooden
Rd. 3 Pick 86: S Tom Zbikowski
Rd. 4 Pick 106: WR Marcus Smith

And that 2009 second-rounder turned into another good player, pass rusher Paul Kruger.

Plus, it’s not like Flacco has been a stiff; he caught fire in the playoffs following the 2012 season and had everything to do with the Ravens’ win over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII (Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP).

Ryan has been more efficient over the course of his regular-season career, according to Football Outsiders’ metrics. Here’s how the two quarterbacks ranked in value per play in each of their first nine seasons:

Year Ryan Flacco
2008 4th 22nd
2009 15th 7th
2010 7th 15th
2011 7th 18th
2012 8th 17th
2013 9th 35th
2014 9th 8th
2015 18th 26th
2016 1st 29th

Ryan’s numbers are also better in the postseason — in seven games he’s completed 68 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and a QB rating of 98.8. But the Falcons are 3-4 in those games. Flacco, meanwhile, sports a 10-5 record in the postseason — including the aforementioned Lombardi Trophy — where he’s thrown 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but completed just 57 percent of his throws with a QB rating of 88.6.

The takeaway: Quarterback wins are overrated. But you already knew that. The bigger story is that the Ravens have been successful for much of Flacco’s nine-year career because they were able to surround him with really good players. Ryan might be the better quarterback but there’s no guarantee he would have had Flacco’s success in Baltimore without inferior talent around him.


Will Ravens’ Joe Flacco bounce back from his knee injury? Two things point in his favor

An important hurdle seemed to be cleared last month.

In the Ravens’ third preseason game, against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium, Joe Flacco returned 279 days after tearing two ligaments in his left knee.

Not only did the 31-year-old quarterback look fairly sharp throwing the ball, but Flacco also fell to avoid getting sacked, felt pressure around his feet while throwing and moved out of the pocket a couple of times, seemingly as unfazed as he was before last season’s Week 11 injury.

Now Flacco’s comeback officially begins.

When the Ravens open the regular season today against the Buffalo Bills, Flacco will be starting the process of trying to add his name to a rather impressive list of current NFL quarterbacks who have successfully come back from major knee surgery.

As is his nature, Flacco was low-key during training camp about his comeback. While he said early on that there were times he forgot about the fact that he was wearing a large brace to protect the knee, he conceded recently that the knee didn’t feel “100 percent.”

Still, Flacco seems to be well aware of those who have made successful comebacks the season after major knee surgery, including an elite class of quarterbacks led by Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, who did it twice over a nine-year span in Cincinnati and Arizona.

“I mostly go off how I feel, but I’ve thought about” others who have made comebacks, Flacco said. “Plenty of guys have dealt with this. It’s not a new thing. I think the biggest thing with that is it taught me not to be scared by the whole process.

“As long as I do the work, I’m going to be able to get back out there and do what I’ve always been able to do. It was a big confidence thing going through the rehab and that whole process. Guys have done it. I’m not the first guy to do it, obviously.”

According to a former NFL quarterback who did it himself more than a decade ago, there is a lot tending to prove that Flacco can play at a high level after suffering what was considered — and in some cases still is thought to be — a significant, career-threatening injury.

It starts with which knee is injured and the playing style of the quarterback who is injured.

“When I was going through it, I was looking at how my situation compared to someone else and what can I do, and I kind noticed that the guys that it was their lead leg, they had a greater rate of return and also a mobile guy versus a pocket guy,” said Trent Green, now an analyst for CBS.

Green said the quarterbacks who have made it back faster, and for the most part played better, were those whose lead leg was injured as well as those who did not rely on their legs as much as their arms. That would bode well for Flacco on both accounts.

Two quarterbacks who struggled after injuring their plant leg both also relied on their ability to run.

After breaking the NFL record for total yardage by a quarterback in 2004 while with the Minnesota Vikings, Daunte Culpepper started poorly in 2005, with no touchdowns and eight interceptions in the first two games, then tore three ligaments in his right knee seven games into the season. Culpepper finished his career as a journeyman backup.

“He was never the same guy [as before the surgery] because it was his plant leg,” Green said.

The same could be true for Robert Griffin III, now trying to revive his career with the Cleveland Browns.

Despite many other problems being raised during Griffin’s tumultuous four seasons in Washington, Griffin’s troubles seemed to start when he was first injured late in the 2012 season after his right knee was twisted by former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

A few weeks later, in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin tore two ligaments in the knee. He returned by the opening game of the 2013 season, but never played as well and suffered a dislocated ankle in 2014 that further complicated his comeback.

“You’re really not generating very much power at all from your lead leg, it’s your plant leg,” Green said. “Not only is he a runner, but it’s his plant leg. You’ve got to be able to drive, plant that foot, and that’s really where everything comes from.”

Rivers represents a success story after suffering an ACL injury in his plant leg, but he’s also a pocket passer who relies more on accuracy than athleticism.

Rivers actually played in an AFC championship game against the New England Patriots at the end of the 2007 season with no ACL. In the week before the game, he had arthroscopic surgery to remove the ACL and knew he wouldn’t have been able to play if he had had it repaired.

A few weeks after the game, Rivers had major reconstructive surgery to properly repair the knee and was back on the field six months later.

Rivers didn’t miss a game in 2008, setting then-career highs for passing yards, completion percentage and touchdown passes. His 34 touchdown throws led the NFL, and he had the highest passer rating of any quarterback in the league.

“It’s a tough road,” Rivers said recently. “I was told by my doctor that it was an 18-month recovery, from surgery to where you can actually say, ‘I don’t know which knee I hurt.’ I felt ready to go by training camp, but you had those days when it’s sore.

“You had some sore days throughout that [2008] season, but I never felt I wasn’t strong, like it was hindering me in any way. But probably not until that next year did it feel great, feel fully that I had no symptoms whatsoever.”

Dr. Luga Podesta, director of sports medicine at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, N.Y., and a former team doctor for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, said most athletes coming back from major knee surgery are ready “functionally” after six months.

“Psychologically it takes a little longer,” Podesta said. “An ACL injury is a huge injury for an athlete. The rehabilitation is very intense and demanding at times. It’s difficult to get through it. A lot of these guys have never been hurt before, always in the back of their minds, it’s ‘Can I come back from this?’ It’s really trying to prove that they can come back and play.”

Green, who was injured in a preseason game in 1999 after signing a big free-agent contract with the then-St. Louis Rams, said the mental part was his biggest hurdle and knows that Flacco, whether or not he admits to it, will go through that himself.

“You’re thinking, ‘I want to show that I’m as good a player than I was before the injury,'” said Green, who wound up having more problems with concussions in his career than any aftereffect of the knee surgery. “That’s just human nature, I think.”

Flacco acknowledges that even during the rehab process, “you clear some mental hurdles here and there. If you show up and just do your work, it is not the biggest deal in the world. I feel like that is what I was able to do and keep a good mind about the whole thing.”

Having seen teammates endure rehabilitation processes over his first eight years in the NFL, Flacco said he “heard some horror stories.” Once, he had gone though it, Flacco said, “It was probably better than I expected it to be.”

In Flacco’s mind, there are still moments to overcome — including getting hit where the knee takes the brunt of the contact.

While much was made after he went down trying to avoid being sacked by Ngata, a former teammate, in the preseasson game against the Lions — with many inside M&T Bank Stadium holding their breath until he got up — Flacco said that the sack didn’t amount to much.

“I was moving around, and I just dove into a hole because the play was over at that point,” he said after the game. “So I really didn’t get touched today, the way I view it. I went back there, and it was a pretty clean 20-some plays.”

As much as Flacco and the Ravens hope to keep it that way, a big hit is bound to happen. While rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been impressive in protecting Flacco’s blind side during training camp, NFL quarterbacks rarely go through a game, let alone a season, without being hit.

The short memory that has enabled Flacco to overcome poor games and less-than-successful seasons, including one last year even before he was injured, should help again as he deals with trying to facilitate the recovery the Ravens plan to make in 2016.

“I feel great,” Flacco said. “I don’t think it’s going to affect me at all with my play. I just have to — knock on wood — stay healthy for the rest of it.”

NFL Summer Reset: Baltimore Ravens open training camp with healthy attitude

When the Baltimore Ravens begin their full training camp on July 27, ninth-year head coach John Harbaugh will have 17 starters from last year’s injury-riddled team that limped to a 5-11 record, third in the AFC North.

Eight of those starters were on injured reserve last season including quarterback Joe Flacco, who had offseason knee surgery and should be ready for action in training camp. Among other recovered injury victims are linebacker Terrell Suggs, running back Justin Forsett and wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshard Perriman.

When Flacco was out last season, Jimmy Clausen started three games and Matt Schaub two. They are gone and the Ravens, who traditionally carry only two quarterbacks on their roster, hope that Ryan Mallett, who signed a two-year deal Dec. 15, can be more consistent if needed again this year.

In a move that might help keep Flacco healthy, the Ravens drafted Notre Dameoffensive tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No, 6 overall pick. That will help soften the blow of losing versatile Kelechi Osemele in free agency (Oakland). With Eugene Monroe released in the offseason, Stanley will get a fair shot at the starting left-tackle spot.

And after struggling without Suggs last year, the Ravens used their next two draft picks to add pass-rush pressure, taking Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa (Round 2, No. 42) and BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (Round 3, No. 42). In spring workouts, the Ravens were also impressed with sixth-round pick Maurice Canady, a tall and talented cornerback from Virginia.

In a move to regain leadership reminiscent of that imposed by former star safety Ed Reed, the Ravens signed free agent Eric Weddle, the long-time defensive captain of the San Diego Chargers. His three-year deal calls for $26 million with a $7 million signing bonus and $13 million guaranteed.

Here is a closer look at the newcomers and key players and how they should factor into the Ravens’ 2016 team:



Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, MD, 7/22, 7/27

2015 RECORD: 5-11


COACH: John Harbaugh

9th season as Ravens/NFL head coach

87-56 overall; 10-5 postseason


17: 10 offense, 7 defense, kicker, punter

OFFSEASON STANDOUT: Cornerback Maurice Canady.

Canady caught the attention of coaches throughout the offseason camps. He had an interception during a Tuesday minicamp practice and his knack for getting to the football is a skill the Ravens sorely missed last season. Canady was picked up in the sixth round from the University of Virginia, prompting several draft experts to laud the value of the selection. Canady has said he would like to emulate other cornerbacks like Seattle’s Richard Sherman and the Redskins’ Josh Norman, both of whom were also late-round picks at cornerback.

“I think Canady has been outstanding in this camp,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I’m really, really, really pleased with him. … Maurice, I think, has been one of the top production guys, really, in the whole camp of all the defensive backs.”


The draft — A closer look at the Ravens picks (11):

–Round 1/6 — Ronnie Stanley, T, 6-5, 312, Notre Dame

The Ravens adhered to their philosophy of choosing best player available as opposed to drafting for need. Stanley, a junior, was a three-year starter for the Fighting Irish. With the release of Eugene Monroe, Stanley is in the driver’s seat to open the season as the Ravens’ starting left tackle. Stanley could anchor the offensive line for the long term and provide added protection for quarterback Joe Flacco’s blind side.

–Round 2/42 — Kamalei Correa, LB, 6-2, 243, Boise State

Baltimore landed a much-needed pass rusher with this selection. Correa was named second-team All-Mountain West after leading the Broncos with 11 tackles for a loss and seven sacks last season. He is also fast and versatile. The Ravens placed more value on Correa than other teams and they were able to trade back to get more picks and still select him. His performance in the offseason workouts has put him in position to earn a starting job for Baltimore.

–Round 3/70 — Bronson Kaufusi, DE, 6-6, 285, Brigham Young

The Ravens added more depth to their pass rush and found a possible heir apparent to Chris Canty, who was not re-signed in the offseason. Kaufusi is a versatile player who can play multiple positions. He had 26.5 career sacks in his four years at BYU. He was especially stellar his senior year when he finished with 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss.

–Round 4/104 — Tavon Young, CB, 5-9, 184, Temple

Young will be able to compete for a starting spot opposite Jimmy Smith. Young was a solid corner for the Owls and had five interceptions in his final two years as a starter. He is physical in press coverage and has good speed.

–Round 4/107 — Chris Moore, WR, 6-1, 206, Cincinnati

Moore will provide another big-play threat for quarterback Joe Flacco. He averaged 19.3 yards per catch over his four years with the Bearcats. Moore came up big his senior year with 39 receptions for 823 yards and seven touchdowns. He can play on the side, but also has experience as a slot receiver.

–Round 4/130 — Alex Lewis, T, 6-6, 312, Nebraska

Lewis, a transfer from Colorado, will provide depth to the offensive line because he is able to play multiple positions. He started at left tackle for the Cornhuskers but could compete for a spot at left guard, where he started 12 games for the Buffaloes.

–Round 4/132 — Willie Henry, DT, 6-3, 303, Michigan

Henry slipped in the draft because of the number of quality defensive tackles available. However, he could be a force for an already stellar group in Baltimore. He finished with 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss in his senior season for the Wolverines, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention.

–Round 4/134 — Kenneth Dixon, RB, 5-10, 214, Louisiana Tech

Even though the Ravens are stocked at running back, they stayed true to their board and picked up Dixon, a shifty and elusive runner. Despite missing two games last season with an ankle injury, he still had 1,070 rushing yards, 467 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. Dixon is also highly regarded as a blocker, which will make him a perfect fit for Baltimore. Dixon finished with 87 career touchdowns, second most in Division I history behind Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who was also taken by the Ravens in the sixth round.

–Round 5/146 — Matt Judon, LB, 6-3, 275, Grand Valley State

The Ravens went for another solid pass rusher with Judon, who led college football with 20 sacks last season. Baltimore has been successful taking players from small schools and Judon fits that mold. He received the Gene Upshaw Trophy, which goes to the top defensive lineman in Division II football. Judon was also the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Defensive Lineman of the Year.

–Round 6/182 — Keenan Reynolds, WR, 5-11, 205, Navy

Reynolds will try to convert to wide receiver after having a prolific career as a quarterback in Navy’s triple-option. Reynolds scored 88 touchdowns in four years, which are the most rushing touchdowns in Division I history and the most total touchdowns in the history of the Football Bowl Subdivision. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting last year and was named a third-team All-America. Reynolds has already shown a knack for catching the football during the Ravens’ offseason camps and his dedication to learning the playbook has been impressive.

–Round 6/209 — Maurice Canady, CB, 6-1, 193, Virginia

Baltimore added more depth to the secondary with its final pick of the 2016 draft. Canady, a three-year starter for the Cavaliers, is a big, speedy cornerback who can match up with receivers of equal or bigger size. He finished with five career interceptions. Canady can also be an effective special teams player. Canady has been singled out by several Ravens’ coaches for his ability to get to the football in the spring workouts.


–G Vladimir Ducasse: Adds some needed depth to the offensive line.

–CB Jerraud Powers: Late signing could provide depth at needed position.

–RB Trent Richardson: Former first-round pick trying to earn a spot in a crowded backfield.

–WR Mike Wallace: Free-agent pickup in offseason that is expected to provide another downfield threat.

–TE Benjamin Watson: Signed as a free agent to provide another big target for QB Joe Flacco.

–S Eric Weddle: Ravens’ biggest offseason signing will provide leadership and play-making ability.

KEY LOSS: T/G Kelechi Osemele (14/14)*

–Osemele’s decision to sign with Oakland as a free agent left the Ravens with a void on the offensive line. The Ravens are hoping first-round pick, Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley can make an immediate impact.


–DE Chris Canty (9/9), QB Jimmy Clausen (4/3), TE Chase Ford (0/0), WR Chris Givens (12/6), S Will Hill III (16/14), T Eugene Monroe (6/6), TE Allen Reisner (0/0), QB Matt Schaub (2/2), LB Daryl Smith (16/16), S Brynden Trawick (16/1), LB Courtney Upshaw (16/15), CB Tray Walker (8/0)*

Total games played/started lost: 119/86

*Number in parentheses is games played/games started in 2015

Late For Work 7/6: Police Hunting Down Joe Flacco Look-Alike

First off, LFW is back!

With the Ravens offices closed last week, I took a brief Late For Work intermission, but I’m back and will catch you up on the latest … even if it takes me a couple of days to fit it all in. And thanks to Ryan Mink and Garrett Downing for filling in while I was chillin’ with my hubby on vacation.

Let’s get things started on an interesting note.

Police Hunting Down Joe Flacco Look-Alike

Crime is no laughing matter … except when police poke fun at a suspect (who clearly is NOT elite) and his resemblance to Joe Flacco.

If you see a guy that looks like Flacco, then you should call Anne Arundel County Police Department immediately because he’s wanted for stealing a credit card out of someone’s car and using it at a convenience store.

The police are asking for help in identifying the man in the surveillance photos below. But it appears as though they’ve been burned in the past by jokesters littering their comments section with celebrity look-alikes. The AACPD got out in front of that possibility with the followingawesome Facebook post that had me chuckling.

Phew, I’m glad Flacco could be ruled out. The Ravens are kind of relying on him this season.

To be honest, I’m not sure this man even looks like Flacco. The side profile offers some resemblance, but the other two shots aren’t even close.

“Perhaps, the police are searching for James Flacco,” joked ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, referring to President Barack Obama’s accidental slipup when talking about actor James Franco.

The good news is that Marylanders are being vigilant about finding this fake Flacco, sharing the post more than 530 times. Even if many of the shares are about the suspects’ similitude to Flacco, plenty of people are getting a good look at the man and, hopefully, it will turn into a lead for the police.

As for the real Flacco, he didn’t get into any hot water this weekend. Instead, he was promoting safety on the 4th of July and following Women’s World Cup Soccer.

Gauging the chances of Andre Johnson landing with Ravens

When Andre Johnson is likely released by the Houston Texans, the Baltimore Ravens should immediately show interest in the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. It’s just a matter of whether the feeling would be mutual.

Johnson makes sense for the Ravens because of their need at wide receiver if Torrey Smithcan’t be re-signed and their successful history with aging receivers from Derrick Mason toAnquan Boldin to Steve Smith Sr. He would represent the first step in the Ravens’ offseason makeover of the wide receiver position.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson

AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThere are plenty of reasons to think Andre Johnson could fit in well with the Ravens’ offense.

So, what are the chances Johnson eventually lands with the Ravens? The odds appear good but not great. There are plenty of reasons why you can envision Johnson catching touchdown passes from Joe Flacco, but there are going to be plenty of teams interested in a receiver who has caught at least 85 passes in six of the past seven seasons.

The Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawksand New England Patriots are potential suitors for Johnson, and like the Ravens, they can all offer him a shot at winning a Super Bowl. The Colts and Seahawks, both of whom currently have over $25 million in salary-cap space, can offer Johnson more money than the Ravens. And the Colts can offer him two opportunities a year at getting payback with the Texans because both teams are in the AFC South.

This is why the Ravens should be considered a candidate to get Johnson, although certainly not the favorite. The Ravens would have to go after Johnson with the same aggressiveness they showed last offseason with Steve Smith. But the Ravens don’t have the cap room to outbid teams.

Johnson is the type of sizable receiver (6 feet 3, 230 pounds) that the Ravens and new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman needs. It appears Johnson would be an ideal fit based on how Trestman used two big playmaking targets (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) in Chicago.

And, unlike a receiver like Marshall (who could also become available), Johnson brings strong hands, toughness, leadership and consistency. Among players with 100 games played, Johnson’s average of six catches per game is the highest in NFL history.

Johnson has shown signs of slowing down. His yards per catch has declined each of the past three seasons, and his 11 yards per catch last season was his lowest since 2005. He averaged 62.4 receiving yards per game last season, his least since 2005 and 25 yards less than his 2013 average.

But the Ravens are probably looking at Johnson to be their No. 1 receiver for at least 2015. Owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens won’t extend themselves financially to keep Torrey Smith, and coach John Harbaugh hinted at reducing Steve Smith’s role in 2015 to help him from wearing down during the season.

If the Ravens would get Johnson, it would solve the Ravens’ problems only in the short term. The Ravens’ top two receivers would be 34 and 36 years old when the season started, increasing the need to draft a receiver. Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong and Ohio State’s Devin Smith are first-round prospects who could fill Torrey Smith’s role as the deep threat and develop into a starter by 2016.

The idea of lining up Johnson, Steve Smith and a playmaking rookie at wide receiver has to be enticing for Flacco and the Ravens. They just have to convince Johnson that his best fit is with the Ravens.