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Joe Flacco Takes Blame For Ravens' Offensive Struggles

October 4, 2017
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco put his team's offensive struggles squarely on his shoulders, admitting that he has been rushing throws and that the offense is not playing with confidence.

The Ravens have lost two straight games after a 2-0 start and were shut out during the first half of both losses. The Ravens have been outscored, 70-16, during consecutive losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars (44-7) and Pittsburgh Steelers (26-9), and the passing game has appeared to be in disarray. 

After one quarter of the season, the Ravens rank 30th in total offense (269.8 yards/game) and last in both passing offense (142.5) and passing yards per play (4.19). 

Flacco has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions this season, and his 65.0 passer rating ranks second-to-last in the league among quarterbacks with at least 100 passes.   

"I'm going to put it on me every time as the quarterback of this football team," Flacco said at his weekly news conference Oct. 4. 

He said the Ravens are just "a few plays away" from being a much more successful offense.

Against the Steelers last week, receiver Mike Wallace couldn't hang on to a deep throw when Flacco found him open down the left sideline, and later Flacco sailed a pass over an open Breshad Perriman near the Steelers' goal line. 

"We're having a couple of chances for big plays in all of our games," Flacco said. "We're not getting a ton of chances, but we're having a couple chances and we're not making them. … It's probably four plays here or there and it can be a different ballgame."

Flacco acknowledged one of the issues has been his propensity to rush throws. 

"I've been a little bit quick to get the ball out of my hands at times," he said, adding that he needs to "just hang in there and trust the process, trust the pocket … And I might have to step up and make some plays here and there. … When some of those big plays are presented to us, they're there, they've been pretty easy, you can make them in your sleep and we haven't made them."

Flacco dismissed any notion the back injury that sidelined him for all of training camp has been an issue, and he did not lay blame on an offensive line that has lost Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda and is starting three undrafted players.

But Flacco made it clear that after two games in which the Ravens were outscored by a collective 42-0 in the first half, confidence is an issue.

"I think our confidence level could be higher," Flacco said, "and I think the way we've played the last couple of weeks can definitely creep in and hurt that. We got to do the best we can to make sure that we continue to believe in who we are as players and as a football team."

NOTEBOOK:

HILL RETURNS TO PRACTICE, J. SMITH ABSENT: Rookie cornerback Jaylen Hill (hamstring) returned to practice Oct. 4, his first appearance since the regular season began, but defensive tackle Brandon Williams (foot) remained sidelined. Cornerback Jimmy Smith (undisclosed) was not present during the media-viewing portion of the practice. Others who missed practice included cornerback Lardarius Webb (undisclosed), tight end Ben Watson (calf) and tight end Maxx Williams (ankle).

HARBAUGH: 'WE HAVEN'T HAD ENOUGH BIG PLAYS": Head coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens need to be more aggressive with their downfield passing game. Against Jacksonville two weeks ago, they did not complete a pass longer than 8 yards. The longest completion against the Steelers went for 16 yards. Perriman, considered one of the Ravens' top big-play threats, has two catches for 11 yards this season. 

"That's something we need to get to," Harbaugh said. "It's important to us. We have speed. We need those guys making big plays for us, and we haven't had enough big plays. When we've had some big plays, everything looks a lot better. We've got to open that up a little bit, find a way to throw it over the top of people, and we need more catch-and-run plays."

STANLEY HAS LAS VEGAS ON HIS MIND: Tackle Ronnie Stanley, who grew up in Las Vegas, said "it's been rough" watching news of the mass shooting that occurred there Oct. 1. "Just trying to check in on my family and loved ones and close friends back home, it was kind of overwhelming," Stanley said. "It was just kind of another reminder there is a world outside of football." Stanley said none of his friends or family were killed or wounded in the attack.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES: The Ravens have added cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste and tight end Gabe Holmes to the practice squad. In corresponding moves, the team waived cornerback Josh Thornton from the practice squad and placed fullback Ricky Ortiz on practice squad injured reserve. 

Jean-Baptiste, 27, is a former second-round pick out of Nebraska who played four games for the New Orleans Saints as a rookie in 2014. Since then, he has spent time with the Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and most recently the Jacksonville Jaguars, but has not appeared in a regular-season game since 2014. Holmes was with the Raiders in 2015 as an undrafted rookie out of Purdue, and then spent the 2016 season on injured reserve. He was recently cut from the Seahawks' practice squad. 

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox