Tag Archives: Ravens

On the Ravens

Baltimore Ravens fans, including me, are still reeling from the awful loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional round of the playoffs.  The end of season press conferences are done, the lockers are cleared out, and the organization is already planning for next year.

There are many reasons to look back on the 2010 season as a success.

The Ravens improved from 9-7 in the regular season last year to 12-4 this year.  Unfortunately, the end result (second in the AFC North), was the same, a wild card spot in the playoffs.

The Ravens made it to the playoffs for the third year in a row, and have made the playoffs in six of the last ten years.  They are also the only team in the National Football League to have won a playoff game in each of the last three years.  By any standard but one (winning it all), that’s success. 

If you listen to sports talk radio, though, it sounds like the Ravens finished the year with the Cleveland Browns’ record.  There are calls to bench Joe Flacco, fire Cam Cameron, even replace John Harbaugh.

To that I say—be happy with what you have.

Since the expansion Browns returned that name to Cleveland in 1999, they have two winning seasons.  They have played in one playoff game.

The Cincinnati Bengals in the 2000’s?  Two winning seasons.  Two playoff appearances, no playoff game wins.

The Steelers are the clear class of the AFC North in the last ten years, with eight winning seasons, seven playoff appearances and two Super Bowls. 

Certainly there are areas for the Eagles to improve to get to where the Steelers are.  Joe Flacco needs to continue his development.  After having seemingly upgraded the offense in the off season, statistically the Ravens’ 2010 offense wasn’t as good as 2009.  But the only statistic that matters is wins—but for a horrible performance in their last game of the season, the Ravens could be playing in the Super Bowl.

The Ravens are a great organization.  Don’t let that one game tarnish the great season.


Ray Rice, Defense Give Baltimore Ravens Win

For Baltimore Ravens fans, the win against the Miami Dolphins looked familiar; frankly, it looked formulaic. It’s an effective formula, too.

Ray Rice scrambled for 180 yards from scrimmage (83 rushing, 97 receiving), and the defense held the Dolphins to just 10 points, giving up no points in the second half.

Also in that formula: Four field goals on five attempts. Billy Cundiff also continues to put kickoffs in the end zone, which is a huge help when it comes to the field position battle.

The offense got off to a bit of a frustrating start, with two unproductive trips in to the red zone and numerous sacks and penalties.

About mid-way through the second quarter they seemed to get their bearings and dominated, as evidenced by the lopsided time of possession and yards.

If there is one thing the Ravens need to work on, it’s effectiveness in the red zone, where they scored just one touchdown in seven trips.

Joe Flacco had a solid day, going 20-for-27 for 266 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

On the defensive side of the ball, after an opening drive where the Dolphins easily drove down the field for a touchdown, the Ravens only gave up three more points all game.

The defense also generated three interceptions—one by Lardarius Webb (his first this year), one by Ed Reed (his third in two games) and one by Josh Wilson, who replaced Fabian Washington at CB.

Washington’s play was disappointing for the second week in a row. This week it wasn’t his coverage as much as poor tackling. Wilson took full advantage of the opportunity and had an outstanding game.

The defense also showed outstanding discipline, amassing few penalties and foiling an attempt at a fake punt. There was a questionable roughing-the-passer call against Ngata late in the game.

It was great to see not only the punt discipline, but the outstanding read by the punt team that there was an uncovered gunner the one time the Ravens lined up to punt, resulting in the first down on the fake instead of punting the ball away.

The Ravens’ old formula of running the ball effectively, short passes and outstanding defense lead to a dominating performance. They didn’t punt once and had the ball for over 38 minutes.

This performance should make fans and the team alike very confident of a playoff run this year.

This was also posted at Bleacher Report

Must Win

Typically, fans and writers alike consider the AFC North Division rivalry games “must win”.  Many considered both the Steelers game and the Patriots game “must win” situations for the Ravens.

I disagree.  The Ravens are off to a 4-2 start, having played the Jets, Bengals, Steelers, and Patriots all on the road already, and having lost only two of those four games.  I think that’s respectable.

The games the Ravens must win are the home (and away) games against clearly inferior teams.  They must beat the Browns, Broncos, and Panthers.

And when a team like the Bills comes to Baltimore, the Ravens must win.

When you look at the schedule, the Ravens are up against some very good teams on the road this year: Jets (5-1), Patriots (4-1), Falcons (4-2), and Texans (4-2).  Of course, there are also the three divisional road games against the Steelers, Bengals, and Browns.

Any team, even good teams, are going to lose some of those tough road games.

Buffalo is last in the league in passing offense, and last in the league in running defense.  The Ravens pass defense is ranked third, and while they haven’t gotten the running game going in full gear, everyone knows how dangerous their three backs are.

The two losses thus far this year were both disappointing.  The Ravens simply played poorly on the offensive side of the ball against the Bengals; but every team (and every quarterback) is going to have an off day.

Yes, it would have been nice to hang on and beat the Patriots last week.  That game may matter when the playoffs get here, either in the wild card or seedings.  But losing that game isn’t going to cost the Ravens a shot at making the playoffs, as long as they continue to beat the teams they should beat.

And they should beat the Bills.  Convincingly.  If they don’t, fans and writers will legitimately question not only how good the Ravens are, but question their ability to even reach the playoffs.


This article was also posted at Bleacher Report

Thoughts on The Ravens’ Win

I expect Monday sales of blood pressure and heard medication will go up in both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  For Ravens’ fans, though, things are looking pretty good after a win at the Steelers, 17-14.

As expected, the game was low scoring and close, coming down to a touchdown pass in the final minute to put the Ravens up by three, then an interception on the first play after the touchdown by the seeming ageless Ray Lewis.

Steelers’ fans will look back on two missed field goals and that last interception and wonder “what if?” but they played well and are going in to their bye week 3-1 when few expected they would have a winning record without Big Ben.

The Ravens are now also 3-1, keeping pace with the Steelers for a share of the AFC North lead.  We saw a lot to be happy about, but there are still some things the team needs to address as the season moves along. Continue reading

Three Things The Ravens Must Do to Win Sunday

Read my latest at Bleacher Report

Ravens beat Browns

The Ravens beat the Browns 24-17 in a game that seemed much harder than it should have, primarily due to the outstanding performance of Peyton Hillis and the Browns offensive line.


Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin seemed to hit their groove, with 3 TD connections.  Flacco appeared to regain his poise.  While it was against the mediocre defense of the Browns, he did face some aggressive blitzing and still came away with 262 yards in the air and 3 TDs with no interceptions.

The running game looked fantastic, with Ray Rice going 80 yards on 15 carries until he left the game with a knee sprain.  Willis McGahee stepped in with another 29 yards.

The offense was much improved over the last two weeks (again, even in light of the opponent, this is still a divisional game).  They still need to improve third down conversions, and stop leaving themselves in third and long situations.

I would also like to see them continue to integrate the running attack to increase time of possession and wear down the opposing offense.  The weapons are there. Continue reading


Some quick thoughts on the Ravens:

They need to get the offense in gear.  The Jets were a stout defense.  The Bengals are good, but not that good.  Get back to the formula that wins:  Establish the run, set up the pass.  There are too many weapons on this team to lose games by throwing 4 interceptions.

Speaking of which, so far this year the turnover ratio is  -6.  That isn’t going to win.

The defense could be as good (or dare I say better) than the 2000 Ravens.  2 games, no touchdowns, 24 points.

They need to regroup and stomp the Browns.

Ravens Beat Jets

The 2010 hype bowl is over, and the Baltimore Ravens are victorious, winning 10-9 over the Jets.

The Jets – Ravens match up looked to be one for the ages, but a sloppy offensive showing by both teams along with outstanding defense by both teams made this one a low scoring nail biter. The Ravens pulled it out, scoring the only touchdown of the game.

But the score doesn’t say as much about the game as you would think.

The Ravens dominated the stats even if they didn’t dominate the scoreboard. They had 20 first downs while holding the Jets to just 6, although to be fair, 6 of the 20 were from penalties. The Ravens ran 77 plays to the jets 45. The Ravens only moved the ball 282 yards (primarily through the air), but when you hold the opposition to just 176 that’s a dominant performance.

Ravens time of possession was 38:30 to the Jets 21:30.

So how was the score so close? Continue reading

Ravens Game by Game Predictions

We’re counting down the hours to the beginning of the 2010 NFL season!  Most experts are picking the Ravens as Superbowl contenders this year.

But they do play the games for a reason, don’t they?

Every year around this time, I present my completely unreliable, generally biased, and wholly inaccurate predictions for the Ravens regular season games.

The Ravens have a tough start to the season, but as you’ll see, I think the tough part of the season is actually a bit later on.

With that disclaimer, let’s get started! Continue reading

Some Surprises on the Ravens Roster

As all 32 NFL teams cut down to their 53 man roster this weekend, there were some surprises, and the Ravens were no exception.

The first surprise to me was they were serious about carrying just 2 quarterbacks, and cut Troy Smith. This is a surprise, as I thought he might have some trade value at a minimum if they decided not to go with 3 QBs. I guess he doesn’t, which will certainly be a blow to his ego.

I imagine he’ll end up a third QB somewhere in the league.

That move also makes it very clear the Ravens will not resort to much trickery this year with the ‘Wildcat’ or ‘Suggs Package’ on offense.

I’m also surprised by the Antwan Barnes trade to the Eagles, which opened up a roster spot for either Jason Phillips, Edgar Jones, or Prescott Burgess.

Phillips performed well in camp, but not well in the last preseason game. I think they are looking at him as a project; he’s got enough talent to keep for the future. Jones is a very flexible player, but not a standout OLB/DE. He’s outstanding on special teams, but so was Barnes.

Burgess hasn’t impressed me much this year, but the Ravens see something in him worth keeping.

The depth at Linebacker made this trade possible, and hopefully the Ravens will see some value out of the draft pick next year.

I’m not at all surprised Demetrius Williams was cut. His performance has been inconsistent over the last several years, he’s injury prone, and hasn’t lived up to expectations. He may move on to another team and do very well, perhaps a change of scenery is what he needs to reach his potential.

Smith and Reed both have just as much upside as Williams, and I think less risk and less baggage.

I also wasn’t surprised by the choice of kicker. While there was speculation that Shayne Graham was ‘the guy’, he and Cundiff were very close on field goal performance, but Cundiff has the stronger leg for kickoffs. In the AFC North, field position often wins games, and I think that is what drove the Ravens’ choice.

I fully expected Ed Reed to end up on the Reserve PUP list. There was just no way he would be ready for the Jets, and I still think the Ravens are looking at their talent at Safety and considering the possibility of putting Reed on IR. That lets him heal and come back healthy next year, or possibly sets up a trade. I don’t think his attitude made him any friends in the Ravens front office or coaching staff this offseason.

While he’s one of the best to play the game, the Ravens can win without him.

As expected, the Ravens cut some players who will end up on rosters elsewhere in the league. Ozzie Newsome and team continue to build a deep talent pool, and are set not only to make a playoff run this year, but set for the future with a pretty young, very talented team.

This was also posted at Bleacher Report.

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