Aaron Wilson previews Ravens-Steelers
As the Ravens (5-6) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) tonight at M&T Bank Stadium, here's Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson's checklist of key areas and people to watch.
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1. Are the Ravens through with the wildcat offense? Not quite yet( Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports / November 28, 2013 )
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is obviously not a fan of offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell's adaptation of the wildcat offense involving backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
But Flacco's prediction about the package -- which shifted the reluctant Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player to wide receiver for a handful of plays against the New York Jets -- becoming extinct from the Ravens' offense going forward isn't expected to come true.
Yes, the Ravens are planning on minimizing their utilization of the wildcat after realizing they overdid it against the Jets. It's not being scrapped entirely, though, according to sources.
The Ravens plan to keep the wildcat in the playbook and break it out in short-yardage situations and special occasions whenever they like the matchup.
Part of Flacco's displeasure with the wildcat, which he called a "high school offense," stemmed from more than how it took him out of the equation as far as having an opportunity to make an impact throwing the football. He was also upset with the suggestion of running more wildcat plays initially coming from beyond the traditional way the Ravens derive their game plan, according to a source.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh made it clear Wednesday that the Ravens won't hesitate to run any scheme they think will give the offense a boost regardless of how Flacco feels.
"We're going to do everything we can do to move the ball offensively," Harbaugh said. "We've got guys that can play that we'll put on the field in different spots, whenever we feel like we need to, and all of our guys support that."
Flacco's displeasure with the offense created something of a stir at the Ravens' training complex Tuesday and the matter has since been discussed with him behind the scenes with the coaching staff and offensive teammates, according to sources.
While it's not expected to be an issue in the future, the air was definitely cleared.
In the end, the wildcat is unlikely to ever become a huge part of this offense.
The Ravens had hoped to run the wildcat plays more against the Chicago Bears, but a muddy Soldier Field prevented them from doing so. Now, it's expected to decrease in usage and transition into an even more minor facet of the offense that the team uses occasionally.
One of the biggest motivations for using the wildcat, besides the expectation that the offense would have trouble running the football against the Jets' imposing front seven, was to find a way to get Taylor involved.
Taylor is perhaps the best all-around athlete on the team and has rare elusiveness in the open field. The Ravens wanted to get him some touches and felt like he could help the offense. That opinion remains unchanged, even though he had some rough moments after initial success.