Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC North [Print without images]

Saturday, December 21, 2013
How knee injury could affect Joe Flacco

By Jamison Hensley

Here are three ways the knee injury to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco could affect him and the game plan:

Flacco
More shotgun: The Ravens have used the shotgun or pistol formation 52.9 percent of the time this season. That rate should increase Sunday given that Flacco's mobility will be limited with a knee brace. I wouldn't be surprised if Flacco took all his snaps in the shotgun or pistol formation. Flacco has put up better numbers when taking the snap under center, throwing five touchdowns and two interceptions (88.0 passer rating). In the shotgun or pistol, he has thrown 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions (74.6 passer rating).

Quicker throws: There are two ways to lessen the chances of Flacco getting hit and hurting the knee worse: run the ball and get rid of passes quickly. The Ravens might call more slants, wide receiver screens or quick hitches. New England can get after the passer, ranking ninth with 40 sacks this season. The Ravens will be particularly aware of Chandler Jones (11.5 sacks, 21 quarterback hits) and Rob Ninkovich (six sacks, 16 QB hits). It could be a situation where the Ravens use more maximum protections, maybe keeping in tight end Ed Dickson and running back Ray Rice to block. The Ravens have done a better job at protecting Flacco, who has been sacked five times the past three games.

Throw more in between the numbers: After Flacco took the helmet to the knee, he wasn't able to step into his throws the rest of the game. It showed in the results. He only completed one of his four passes downfield. Two of his passes to the sideline were overthrown. Flacco's best throw was a 27-yarder to Jacoby Jones over the middle of the field. If he's not able to put as much pressure as he wants on that left leg, he might throw more over the middle, because that's where he seemed to be the most accurate.