By Edward Lee
5:30 PM EDT, September 6, 2012
After losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks in a span of four weeks last season, the outcry for the Ravens offense to run through Ray Rice was deafening, and the running back averaged almost 22 carries and more than four catches in the final seven regular-season games.
But with the offense employing a no-huddle look in the preseason, it has become commonplace for observers to suggest that the unit could evolve into a more pass-friendly attack.
Rice didn’t debate that label. In fact, he stated matter-of-factly that this season’s offense will be headlined by Flacco, Rice’s draftmate from 2008.
“In pecking order, this is Joe’s offense, then everybody else,” Rice said Thursday. “And he’s proven that this preseason with how he’s played, his tempo, how vocal he is, and the quiet Joe phase I think is pretty much over. He’s been outspoken – and I guess you guys get to see it more going into Year 5 – but for me and him, we came in together, and I think he’s going to prove to everybody why he’s a top quarterback in the league. And going into this game, I’m confident, he’s confident. I just can’t wait to get out there with the guys so we can go out there and show guys what he’s really capable of doing.”
Flacco’s evolution is noticeable even to his teammates on the other side of the ball.
“Joe is just more vocal because he is more loose,” inside linebacker Ray Lewis said. “I think bringing [quarterbacks coach] Jim Caldwell in here, kind of working with [former Indianapolis Colts and current Denver Broncos quarterback] Peyton [Manning], and I think he gives Joe a lot of flexibility to really just now take control of the offense. … When you think about a quarterback like Joe, that’s the type of quarterback that he has always been coming from – pretty much like a run-and-shoot offense where you are getting in, getting out, and making the defenses think on the run. I think that’s [where] Joe is really going into his own, because he is really getting comfortable with it.”
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