Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 8/21/12
Ravens_flacco_against_69b1

I'm still not sold on the "sugar huddle" concept for the Ravens ---at least not to open up a game.  My biggest problem with it is when it does not result in a sustained drive. The consequence is your defensive unit gets overworked --- since it is immediately thrown back out on the field. You may think you're going to gas your opponent, when in reality you may be gassing your own defense unit by the fourth quarter of the game.

But Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron like it for specific reasons...so expect to see a lot more of the "sugar huddle" in this Thursday night's crucial Game 3 of the preseason---

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS
Thursday night, August 23, 2012, 8 P.M. EST, M&T BANK STADIUM
Broadcast locally on WBAL-TV and FM Radio-98 WIYY




I think the Ravens and Joe Flacco will continue to experiment with the "sugar huddle" when the first team offense is playing virtually the entire first half of this one...

But I will be surprised if they open up the regular season with it installed for opening possession in the first quarter. Allowing Joe Flacco to have more control over the offense in the pre-season is nice, but that doesn't mean Cam won't stick to his familiar run-run-pass tactics in the regular season.

And to me, having the "sugar huddle" technique down is more important for real games when a late or a big-deficit comeback is required in the regular season.

The no-huddle looked good at times last week. It gets everyone more focused on the play call  and may help produce fewer false starts which kill drives.

But there were times in the first two preseason games when the no-huddle stalled out on Joe. The first-team offense came up empty too many times while in it.

There will be cuts at the end of this week and once we see the starters on the field I think we may see this new look click for Flacco. I think you'll see the Ravens use it a little bit this year. By no means will this be the staple of their offense. The Ravens will continue to stick to what they do best, which is play good defense, run first and play action pass...

It is good to see Flacco getting a taste of playing "conductor", as Ryan Mink of Ravens.com calls it. He's doing the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning thing now when he's in no-huddle, you know, "rubs his elbow, pats his butt, makes hand signals and points out linebackers.

Flacco said the changes aren’t as big as they may appear, saying “we can make it look a little bit more dramatic.” And that’s exactly the point. Defenses won’t know what’s real and what’s not. From pure appearance, Flacco is making numerous changes every play. “You can start trying to play with [defenses] a little bit,” Flacco said.

The Ravens have used what’s called a “sugar huddle” version of the no-huddle, which is when the offensive line doesn’t come back to the huddle, but just turns and listens to Flacco’s calls. The receivers come close enough to hear.

Flacco said he prefers to run no-huddle. That gives him more time at the line of scrimmage to survey the defense. On Sunday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Flacco now often goes to the line with a few play options and makes a choice based on what he sees. Flacco said the hurry-up can get the defense into some basic calls because they have to get lined up so much faster. It also means you can trap certain personnel on the field since the defense can’t substitute.

But it’s also a two-way street.

“They can always mess with you too,” Flacco said. “You can be out there redirecting, pointing this way and they could completely change what they do on you. That’s why you have to have a good balance of slowing things down and quick counting, so they can’t really get a read on you.”

The Ravens are getting a good read on whether their new-look offense will function properly once the regular season rolls around. He’s happy that the other players know what he means when making certain gestures and calls at the line of scrimmage. “It’s good cause all the stuff we’re doing is making sense and we’re all getting it and we’re all still able to operate at full speed,” Flacco said.

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