Harbaugh on West Coast invasion of AFC North

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 24, 2011 – 12:11 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – At least one AFC North head coach thinks Carson Palmer is going to be the Bengals quarterback in 2011. Although you couldn’t blame John Harbaugh if he hopes he’s not since Palmer is 9-4 against his Ravens.

The question came up here Thursday morning at the NFL scouting combine when Harbaugh was asked about the introduction of the West Coast offense in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

“Everybody around the league is doing it. It’s not something we haven’t seen before,” Harbaugh said. “But it’s a great offense. It’s a ball control offense. It expands on the running game. It has a controlled passing attack with what they call extended handoffs. That’s something we want to build into our offense. It will be a big challenge for us. (The Browns’) Colt McCoy is a good young quarterback and Carson Palmer, I think, is one of the best in the league. The Bengals have a team that’s very talented.”

If Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden are talking about getting the ball quickly out of the quarterback’s hand, so is Harbaugh. He says he wants to help out Joe Flacco by installing a better “quick game.”

But he also strenuously defended Flacco the day a great stat came out from via It reflects how long quarterbacks hold on to the ball before taking a sack. As the story points out, more than three seconds usually indicates the sacks are on the quarterback and Flacco led the NFL this past season with 25 of his 40 sacks coming after he held on to the ball for at least three seconds.

(Yes, the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger was second with 20.)

“He’s a creative playmaker,” Harbaugh said. “(Flacco) is a big, strong guy who shrugs off a lot of guys and he’s only going to get stronger. He’s way more athletic than you think. He made more of those plays down the stretch and we’re encouraging him to make those plays.”

Here may be a reason Lewis and Harbaugh want it out quickly: According to Fanhouse, Palmer had just four of his 26 sacks when he held it longer than three seconds.  Only two starters who played all 16 games – both Mannings – had less.  The other 22 sacks came when he held it for three seconds or less.

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