Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Give your name and phone number so we can verify the e-mail.
HEY, JAMISON: : I think Joe Flacco has the potential to be a solid NFL quarterback, but frankly, I was hoping for some better numbers from him throwing the ball. If it was not for the blown coverage on the Demetrius Williams touchdown, his line Sunday would have been 11-for-24 for 70 yards. I think that for the Ravens to take it to the next level and beat elite teams, he will need to stretch the field more. He is averaging 173 yards passing a game, which might beat bad teams but won't beat better teams. What are your thoughts?
Ralph Totoonchie, New York
HEY, RALPH: : The next step in Flacco's evolution is throwing the deep ball. In passes traveling more than 30 yards, he is 0-for-8 with two interceptions. Flacco has been either throwing the ball late or underthrowing his receivers. The other issue is his receivers don't consistently get separation, forcing Flacco to throw into tighter windows.
Sure, Flacco will need big plays and to produce more if the Ravens want to beat the better teams. But he doesn't need to throw for 250 yards a game to make the Ravens a playoff team. When Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie in 2004, he averaged 187.2 yards passing as the Steelers went 15-1 in the regular season. So Flacco doesn't need to be a big-time passer right away. He needs to complement a strong running game and a dominant defense.
HEY, JAMISON: : I noticed - he made it hard not to - that the rookie, Jameel McClain, got a lot more playing time on defense than he has before this game. Was there an injury to someone ahead of him or has he moved ahead of another player?
Joel Seeger, York, Pa.
HEY, JOEL: : McClain has been one of the best-kept secrets on the Ravens. After this year's draft, the Ravens had him targeted as their top undrafted defensive player. But they wanted to bring him along slowly. For the first six games, McClain has quietly been a productive player on special teams. That provided enough of a comfort level to the coaching staff, which decided to play him on defense for the first time last Sunday.
The Ravens wanted McClain because he is a smart and physical player. At different times this season, the Ravens trusted McClain to be the backup at inside and outside linebacker. That's a big compliment. Not too many rookies can handle different positions in such a complicated defense.
HEY, JAMISON: : I know the Ravens are going to target a big receiver in the offseason. What do you think the chances are that they will target Plaxico Burress? Are there any other possible candidates?
Ben Fried, Potomac, Md.
HEY, JAMISON: : It seems obvious to me, discounting current injuries, that the Ravens have a young talented offensive line that might be a real strength of this team for years to come. Accepting that premise, aren't a speedy, big-play receiver and a shut-down corner the critical needs for free agency and/or the 2009 draft?
Jerry King, Rockville
HEY, BEN & JERRY: : The Ravens desperately need a big-time receiver, but this is nothing new. The Ravens unsuccessfully tried to trade for Terrell Owens and Randy Moss in the past. The Giants will probably want to unload Burress to get rid of a malcontent. But the Ravens have to be wary of adding a headache. The one positive is they'll know Burress will be focused for the two games against Pittsburgh. Another popular trade target has been Arizona's Anquan Boldin, but the Cardinals say they want to keep him. Beyond those trades or a surprising salary cap cut, the prospects at finding a veteran big-play receiver look grim. Cincinnati's T.J. Houshmandzadeh will be the top free-agent receiver.