OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was put in a tough situation when he was asked whether teams gained an advantage when their quarterbacks held private workouts with his receivers during the offseason.
“I don’t know if it’s the tipping point," Harbaugh said Thursday. "It surely doesn’t hurt if our guys can do that. Different teams do that in different ways, and quarterbacks run that in different ways based on systems and things like that. I’m always for guys working hard. I’ve always been encouraging guys to work as hard as they can.”
Harbaugh wasn't going to join in with the Joe Flacco bashers on local sports talk radio and message boards who criticize Flacco for failing to round up teammates to toss the ball around. But, even though no Ravens official has hinted at this publicly, you would have to think the team is a little disappointed in Flacco for not having a fire lit under him after struggling last season.
There is a level of absurdity to question the commitment of Flacco, who has started every game in his six-year NFL career. There is also no study to prove that these private workouts lead to more productive seasons for quarterbacks. Those "Jets West" workouts didn't exactly make Mark Sanchez a Pro Bowl passer.
Still, it's valid for the Ravens to want more out of Flacco. They gave him $52 million in guaranteed money before last season, and he threw a career-high 22 interceptions. He also didn't lead the Ravens to the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Nothing would have pleased the Ravens more than to see Flacco take the initiative and get his teammates together for a few extra practices. It's hard to believe this would've been the difference in him making a critical throw in December, but at the very least this would have been a sign that he's going to do whatever it takes to get this offense back on track. The Ravens ranked No. 29 in total offense last season, which was only better than the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Flacco offered a couple of reasons why these workouts never took place this offseason. There were problems in trying to set dates that everyone could attend, and no one had a proper grasp of new coordinator Gary Kubiak's offense because NFL rules prohibit coaches and players from talking football prior to the official workouts.
Just 16 months removed from winning the Super Bowl, Flacco scoffed when someone brought up the questions about his offseason work.
"The last problem that we’re going to have is myself [not] knowing exactly what everybody is going to do on the field," Flacco said. "That’s never a concern.”
Flacco has been around long enough to know the drill. He's never going to please everyone. Except in this instance, the Ravens may be among those disappointed in him.