In a concerted effort to increase the tempo and catch defenses off guard, the Ravens have significantly increased their use of the no-huddle offense.
It wasn't always a smooth operation during the Ravens' 31-17 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, particularly in the first quarter when the first-team offense failed to generate a single first down and only gained nine yards of total offense.
And quarterback Joe Flacco remains a major proponent of the hurry-up strategy.
“I love the no-huddle,” Flacco said Sunday, also expressing his affection for the shotgun formation. “We’ve got to get quicker and quicker at it. I like to go up there and run a play, run a play, run a play. That’s what we’re going to be, and I think we have to make sure we get it as fast as we can."
Flacco completed 9 of 12 passes for 88 yards and one touchdown against the Falcons.
However, the offense sputtered to start the game as punter Sam Koch got plenty of exercise with three punts in the first quarter.
“It works really well when you convert; it doesn’t look so good when you don’t convert,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “When we have situations during the season, if we are out there, if we chose to go that tempo, that we don’t convert, our defense is going to have to get stops. When we do convert, we are going to build some momentum on our opponents.
"You have to understand how that goes. That’s something that we have been practicing from the beginning, so obviously, that’s going to be a big part of what we do. We just have to pick our spots and all that.”
Former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann said he believes the no-huddle will be an effective scheme for Flacco.
"I think it's going to be good for Joe," Theismann said in a telephone interview. "I definitely believe it fits Joe and what they want to do."
One other thing for the offense to clean up from the first preseason game: communication issues along the offensive line.
Rookie center Gino Gradkowski and new left guard Bobbie Williams weren't in sync on line calls and picking up blitzes, leading to Flacco getting hit hard by linebackers busting through the center-guard gap.
"Definitely, those guys got to get used to playing together," Flacco said. " That's the toughest part of the game, really. It all starts with those guys and you just got to go through some things and get those guys used to playing together."
Ravens' Joe Flacco: 'I love the no-huddle'