Week three of the preseason is the week that we as fans, along with coaches, get to see the closest thing to a normal regular season game, with the starters playing a few shifts into the third quarter. For the majority of the projected starters, this game is the final preliminary curtain call before the real show begins.
The Ravens have shown great signs of offensive and defensive promise the first two weeks and it should be expected that it will continue Saturday night against Washington. All eyes will be, as they’ve been for a good while, on Joe Flacco and the offense. We’ve been given teasers of the type of potential Kubiak’s system has against a secondary that has been less than impressive as of late. And the Ravens’ offense has been given another chance to fully show exactly how well-oiled this ball control, run-first, pass-second offense can be.
Flacco had fairly good numbers against Dallas (9/17 for 113 yards and one TD toss) with the majority of his incompletions being the result of poor throws that were either overshot or behind his targets. The Redskins secondary, should it continue to play like it has in the last couple weeks, could very well open the door for the offense to air it out a bit more often than it has the first two games. You make it or break it, Joe.
Ray Rice is expected to play coming off an injury suffered against Dallas and will have his last showcase before undergoing his two-game suspension once the season starts. It still cannot be reiterated enough that he must play the best he can if he hopes to be the starter come Week 3 of the regular season against the Browns.
Steve Smith still has much more to show and with the amount of field time he will be given on Saturday should, if nothing else, fill those gaps; the same goes for Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. And a lot of us are still ready to see what Michael Campanaro can do.
The tight ends also have their fair share to prove as well. Dennis Pitta is by nature a pass catching tight end but will have to prove he can be reliable in the run game. Owen Daniels was a big part of Kubiak’s offense in Houston and while in all likelihood he won’t end up as the No. 1 tight end, he can still offer a great deal to this offense – especially when it comes to running the ball given his size and strength.
The defense is the defense and something most Ravens fans never have much concern about. The linebackers and defensive lineman are playing exceptionally well and this young secondary deserves more attention than most people think.
Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, Jimmy Smith, Matt Elam, and Terrence Brooks are by no means veterans, but are talented nonetheless. Lardarius Webb is the closest secondary player to being a veteran and, in the absence of Ed Reed, Webb needs to begin to establish himself as the leader of that secondary. It is a young third level, but a talented one at that.
The Ravens have been given high expectations for this season, and with this game being the best preview of an actual regular season game, they cannot afford to falter at this stage of the preseason if they hope to keep those expectations high and the confidence of the fans and themselves at the same level.