As it is an annual tradition in the Vensel household every July, I picked up one of the many fantasy football preview magazines on Saturday while picking up some groceries. I went with the one from Sports Illustrated this year because the cover caught my eye most, and because it had many reality football nuggets sprinkled in.
The most appealing of those was the magazine's "enemy lines" feature, where "a rival coach" gives his take on each team's offensive players for fantasy nuts like me. So what does an anonymous enemy coach think about the Ravens? Well, to sum it up, Ray Rice is really good, Anquan Boldin can't get separation like he used to and is on the decline, Jacoby Jones is nothing more than a return specialist, and Joe Flacco can't do it all by himself.
The criticism of Flacco, who remains a popular topic of discussion around Baltimore, was easily the harshest.
"For this offense to have success, it needs to be able to run the ball. Quarterback Joe Flacco regressed last year, and I think part of that was because the defensive pressure got to him," the coach said of Flacco, who tied a career-high with 12 interceptions in 2011. "He's not a player who can just drop back and beat you with his arm; he needs a successful running game to open things up. I would be shocked if he had a breakthrough season."
He does, however, expect Torrey Smith to break out in Year Two.
"That dude is fast. He ran by us a few times," the coach said of the wide receiver. "He doesn't have many routes in his tree, but he'll be a more polished receiver now that he's had a full off-season."
Other tidbits from the enemy coach include a little praise for third-year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and a lot of hype for rookie running back Bernard Pierce, a third-round pick whom the coach says "has a future in this league."
Any guesses who the anonymous coach may be? I'm not going to throw any guesses out there, but I will point out that Smith had 11 catches for 198 receiving yards and a touchdown in two games against the Cincinnati Bengals last season. Hmmm…