Baltimore Ravens Week 8 Mailbag


Oct 19, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) leads the offense against the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens fans are an informed bunch, so when I reached out to gather questions for a mailbag, I was optimistic about the quality of questions I would receive.

I was not disappointed. Let’s get right into the questions.

Will Hill only received 24 snaps in his first action coming off a suspension, and he excelled in those reps. Hill showed no rust in displaying the speed, aggressiveness and instincts that made him such a stud last season.

With that in mind, I absolutely see Hill’s reps increasing, most likely to the detriment of Damian Stewart. At this point, I think the Ravens’ best pairing at safety is Hill and rookie Terrence Brooks. Brooks has proven to have a steady hand in deep coverage, while Hill is phenomenal at wreaking havoc all over the field, including in the box.

Stewart and Matt Elam will still see reps, especially in the box, but Hill’s and Brooks’ stocks are both rapidly rising. Dean Pees has shown a willingness to be flexible at safety this year, so an increase in Hill’s reps is a safe assumption.

I love this question, as Joe Flacco‘s improvement has been an under-the-radar storyline in the NFL this year.

To me, the biggest change for Flacco is obviously his supporting cast. Steve Smith may end up with the best receiving season in Ravens’ history, the offensive line has went from one of the league’s worst to one of the league’s best, and the Ravens’ running backs have been productive. This plus a vastly improved coaching staff (Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison deserve a ton of credit for the offensive turnaround) has Flacco playing the best ball of his career.

That said, Flacco absolutely deserves some credit for making necessary improvements. First of all, Flacco has learned to pick and choose his risks much better than in years past. Flacco had been a gunner for most of his career, growing increasingly aggressive year after year. This year, Flacco is still willing to uncork the deep ball, but he seems more willing to accept a short gain on a dump off when the deep ball is covered.

Flacco’s mechanics remain up and down, but they have looked better every week. Having a quarterbacks coach is so crucial for Flacco, who has always struggled in his career without one. Rick Dennison is doing a great job keeping Flacco under control and bringing out his best qualities.

Will Hill certainly has the Ravens’ fan base enthused, and for good reason. This is a good question with a two-part answer.

First, Hill’s presence will by default lessen the load on Elam. Elam played just 24 reps Sunday, the same as Hill, but where Hill’s stock is rising, Elam’s has fallen. At this point, Elam has ceased being an every down player, at least for the time being. His reps probably won’t decrease anymore, though.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Elam can now focus on doing what he does best, which is playing in the box and playing man coverage. In fact, Elam might be the team’s best bet against hyper-athletic tight ends like Jimmy Graham, who the Ravens will be seeing later this season.

So Elam will definitely continue to have a role, one that will probably fluctuate from week to week. Most importantly, it will be a role that suits him better, and that should help his productivity even though Elam is no longer an every-down player.