Coach Speak: Flacco Going Deep, Carlson's Role, and The Ravens Return Game

Posted Dec 5, 2013

The Vikings three coordinators had their customary weekly press conferences on Thursday following the team’s morning walk-through. In this weekly piece, we’ll choose a comment from each of them and explain or react to what was said.

Question asked: What does Joe Flacco do really well?

Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said: “The deep ball. He throws the deep ball well. When the (receiver) is covered he still throws it to him, and they’re coming up with big plays. I think (Torrey) Smith may have seventeen 20-plus pass plays down the field. They have a good chemistry working there.”

Reaction: Flacco does indeed throw a good deep ball, but the focus of this topic should probably be the receiver Williams referenced – Torrey Smith. He is the Ravens best deep threat, and he’s been one of the NFL’s top deep threats this season. As Williams said, he has 17 receptions of 20 yards, which is fourth-highest in the NFL. But he also has 11 receptions of 25 yards and he’s fifth in the NFL with a per-catch average of 17.6 yards. How do the Vikings stop this part of Baltimore’s offense? There are probably several ways, but one that works best is to put pressure on Flacco and not allow him enough time to find Smith deep down the field. Baltimore has allowed 45 sacks on the season, fourth-highest in the NFL, and the Vikings are coming off a game in which they sacked Bears quarterback Josh McCown four times.

Question asked: John Carlson, he was kind of a forgotten guy last year and even the first part of this season ... obviously [now] his confidence is different, how does it change for you too just knowing he's another option?

Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said: “He’s a great option for us. His speed, he’s got that burst. The play he made against the Redskins on that Thursday night for a touchdown was amazing. He made a play out here yesterday (Wednesday) here on the practice field when we were going against our own defense in the red area that was very impressive. He’s just got good movement skills and the quarterbacks really trust him.”

Reaction: Injuries really slowed Carlson’s transition to the Vikings a season ago, but this season has been a different story. He has stepped up to the plate since Kyle Rudolph’s injury, and in fact he is second among all NFL tight ends in receiving yards with 264 over the past four games, trailing only New England’s Rob Gronkowski. You can expect the Baltimore Ravens to flood the box against the Vikings, as most teams do, to try and stop Adrian Peterson this Sunday, and that will open up some opportunities for Carlson to sneak out of the formation and make some plays in the flats and even downfield against lots of man coverage.

Question asked: How concerning is Jacoby Jones?

Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said: “He’s so good. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s elusive, he’s got great vision. I think he’s got seven or eight career touchdowns, including in the Super Bowl last year. He’s very concerning, obviously.”

Reaction: It’s eight career return touchdowns for Jones, and yes he’s a very concerning foe for the Vikings. Jones has a career punt return average of 10.0 yards and a career kickoff return average of 26.1. He’s much like Cordarrelle Patterson and Adrian Peterson in that once the football in in their hands, there’s always a chance for a touchdown. In fact, this Vikings-Ravens matchup features four very good returners (Tandon Doss, Jones, Patterson and Marcus Sherels) who all rank in the Top 10 in return average in their respective discipline.