Following the Baltimore Ravens' third preseason game, a question began to surface on local blogs and radio waves: What is this “sugar” huddle? Brian Billick, former head coach of the Ravens, was one of the analysts calling the Ravens-Jaguars preseason game. He used the term sugar huddle multiple times during the broadcast to reference the Ravens new look on offense.
The sugar huddle, a variation of the no huddle offense, earned the name on the ground that it is “short and sweet.” A twist on the no huddle, the sugar huddle allows for more explicit communication while maintaining a pace that keeps the defense on its heels. The offensive line sets up and turns its back to the line of scrimmage to get the call from the quarterback. The receivers and backs turn to the sideline for the call. In this way, the sugar huddle doesn't necessarily rely as heavily on the quarterback's discretion as a pure Peyton Manning-style no huddle.
The NFL kicker is under a different kind of pressure than any other player in the NFL. For an intense moment, all attention, and sometimes the weight of a game, is on this one man. When it comes down to it, what any team wants most from a kicker is the ability to finish under pressure. Sure, teams would love to carry a kicker that can nail 60 yard field goals, but if he doesn't have the mettle to nail the shorter kicks when it's fourth down and three points could make or break the team, he's not the guy.
On Sunday January 22, 2012, Billy Cundiff wasn't the guy.
Despite Cundiff's ill-fated miss from 32 yards, which ended the 2012 AFC championship game with the Ravens three points short of the New England Patriots, the organization has told Cundiff the job is his to lose. Even when they brought in rookie kicker Justin Tucker, it was simply a routine move to give a kicker some preseason competition.
It's said that the toughest position in football is the quarterback's mother. Sympathies to Mrs. Flacco. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is the subject of seemingly unending criticism . He's inconsistent, the defense is responsible for his winning record, he'll never get the Ravens to a Super Bowl. National and local media and fans have questioned Flacco's ability to lead and to succeed.
Flacco has never been given a free pass, but going into his fifth year as starting quarterback, both doubts and expectations are at a high point. Flacco has not met the expectations. Statistically speaking, the quarterback regressed last year while fans and media were clamoring for exponential progress. Practically speaking, Flacco was the quarterback for a 2011 team that remained undefeated at home, undefeated in their division, and was one dropped pass from playing in the Super Bowl.
Somewhere in between Flacco's encouraging moments and his frustrating moments lies a perfectly balanced truth: he's good. But will he be great?
Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta broke his hand in practice today and will likely undergo surgery, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh said that he hopes Pitta will be able to return for the September 10 season opener against the Cincinatti Bengals. The team will know more after Pitta's surgery.
Pitta, a young tight end who has shared a starting role with Ed Dickson, emerged, especially late in the year, as one of Flacco's favorite targets. In 2011, he caught 40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. In the post season, he notched on an additional 70 yards off of 7 catches, as well as a touchdown. While Pitta lacks the size and speed of Dickson, his sure-handedness and chemistry with Flacco make him a key contributor to the Ravens offense. He is also more valuable in the blocking game than Dickson.
In Pitta's absence, the Ravens will likely still run plays for both tight ends. The most likely candidate to see increased action is tight end Davon Drew, who was drafted by the Ravens in 2009, and spent the last two years on the practice squad. Drew practiced with the ones on Monday, taking Pitta's reps after Pitta left practice.
All-Pro safety Ed Reed was present at the Baltimore Ravens' Under Armour Performance Center for the first day of training camp. Reed was a no call, no show for mandatory minicamp, and during the offseason, he repeatedly made public statements suggesting a dubious attitude towards returning to football this season.
Over his ten years in Baltimore, Reed has inspired awe in fans with his uncanny ability to make game changing defensive plays. At the same time he has elicited frustration, largely due to his annual talk of retirement and his tendency to publicly criticize team management. When cornerback Lardarius Webb received a six-year $50 million contract, Reed voiced his displeasure with his own contract and made it clear he felt disrespected by the Ravens brass.