EARLY BIRD: Will facing the Jets allow Ravens to throw deep?

EARLY BIRD: Will facing the Jets allow Ravens to throw deep?
November 21, 2013, 7:00 am
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Ray Rice hosts holiday dinner

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens, a few days before Ed Reed returns to Baltimore as an opponent – again.

Two-minute topic: Can the Ravens’ offense hit the Jets with a few big plays?

OWINGS MILLS – Jets coach Rex Ryan has been exasperated by his defense giving up long passes. That’s one reason why the Jets signed ex-Ravens safety Ed Reed last week.

“We’ve given up more deep balls than I can remember,” Ryan said. “It’s a bad year so far, but the year is not over.”

The Ravens will try to make it worse for the Jets on Sunday. But unlike last season, the Ravens have not been able to connect on deep passes with regularity. Sometimes quarterback Joe Flacco has been off target. Sometimes the pass protection has broken down. On other occasions, wide receivers have failed to get separation, misjudged passes, or let them slip away. Still, wide receiver Torrey Smith feels the deep pass should be one of the Ravens’ strengths, considering the speed that he and Jacoby Jones possess, coupled with the strength of Flacco’s arm.

“It’s the hardest ball to complete,” Smith said. “We just happen to be real good at it. Obviously it’s been frustrating, but at the same time, if we get a couple of those to go in a game like we did in the past, it’ll do wonders for our team.”

Flacco does not want the Ravens’ lack of success to make them reluctant to take deep shots.

“We probably haven’t been taking as many as normal, and we probably haven’t been as successful as we normally would,” Flacco said. “That’s kind of how we’ve been with every facet of our game this year.”

Even at age 35, Reed insists that opposing quarterbacks are still reluctant to test him deep. However, Flacco saw Reed daily in practice for five years, and if the Ravens believe they can do business downfield, they will take their chances.

“You need big plays,” said coach John Harbaugh. “You need chunk plays in the run game, you need over-the-top pass plays, and you need catch-and-run plays. Those are things that make the difference for you. It’s pretty hard to just whittle your way down the field and be perfect every play against the caliber defenses we play. The big plays are very important, and we’ve got to find a way to make those and eliminate the issues we’re having right now.”

Playing the Jets may be the anecdote the Ravens need.

Morning thought: Ed Reed, or what he would have done if the Jets had not called: “I’m pretty sure somebody would have called. I know I wasn’t ready to go play golf.”

Hitting the Links

- Ed Reed returns to Baltimore (again)

- Dennis Pitta returns to practice after injury

- How can Tandon Doss contribute to Baltimore's offense