Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer 16d

John Harbaugh: Ravens letting Joe Flacco get hit way too much

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has struggled this season, and his inexperienced offensive line hasn't helped him get back on track.

A day after the quarterback took his worst pounding of the season, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Flacco is getting hit too much. Flacco was hit six times by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 26-9 loss Sunday.

"We have to work on that," Harbaugh said Monday. "When you keep your quarterback clean, the quarterback is going to be a lot better. Joe's tough. Joe just wants to get the ball out in an accurate way and he wants to be able to read things out. When you consistently keep the quarterback clean, I think it builds a certain rhythm to the offense."

Flacco was pressured on 14 of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. His passer rating was 35.8 when under duress.

Asked if he felt like he got hit more Sunday than usual, Flacco said, "When you’re back there playing quarterback, that’s the last thing you’re worried about."

Baltimore lost two starting offensive linemen to injuries this year. Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, and left guard Alex Lewis went on injured reserve after having surgery on his shoulder. The Ravens also lost a couple of key backups in John Urschel (retirement) and Nico Siragusa (knee), both of whom might be starting in place of Yanda and Lewis.

That has forced Baltimore to use two former undrafted players, James Hurst and Matt Skura, at the starting guard spots. Ryan Jensen, a former sixth-round pick, is starting his first season at center.

As a result, Flacco has been hit 18 times in 118 dropbacks. That's one hit every 6.5 attempts.

"Everybody has got to get better," Harbaugh said. "That's just something we have to help him. I want to see him play well. I want to see him put up numbers and make plays. But it's not just him. It's the offense in totality that has to do better."

Flacco also made his share of mistakes. He overthrew Breshad Perriman along the sideline for what could have been an easy touchdown. He missed a wide open Jeremy Maclin in the end zone. And he made poor decisions and throws on both of his interceptions.

Flacco's passer rating over the last two weeks is an NFL-worst 47, which falls behind Browns rookie DeShone Kizer (47.4) and Mike Glennon (70.2), who got benched Monday.

"There are plays that every single guy is leaving out on the field," Harbaugh said. "When it's the quarterback, it's the most obvious part. There is never a game when a player doesn't leave plays on the field. It's when plays get made that covers that up a little bit too."

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