If you are as big of a Ravens fan as I am, then Sunday’s game frustrated you to no end. I’m going to highlight some things that people are talking about and some things that people SHOULD be talking about.
Hot Topic: Joe Flacco
He is the biggest point of conversation when Sunday’s game is brought up. I have to admit that I did throw out a Bulger comment while watching but BY NO MEANS does that mean that I think Flacco should be replaced. I felt as though it would have been beneficial to put Bulger in towards the end when it was clear that Flacco was continuing to struggle, but Harbaugh knows what he is doing and had confidence in him (though it didn’t work out as we had hoped). The four interceptions should not have happened; there is no way that you can win a game with that many turnovers. Based on that, we didn’t deserve to win this game. What Flacco needs to do is work on his mechanics. There’s no bend in his knee; he’s throwing stiff. He needs to focus on stepping up into the pocket and into his throws.
I read an article on NFL Fanhouse where the writer said:
“The Baltimore Ravens are on unfamiliar territory with outstanding offensive players. It’s almost like a child who has loads of great toys, but doesn’t know how to play with them.”
I COMPLETELY agree. Flacco is not used to having so many weapons out there on the field. It really makes you wonder if he feels like he has to try to connect with each of them when he’s out there. Is he so concerned with getting equal passes to Mason, Housh, Boldin and Heap that he is not actually screening the field as he should? I could be completely off here but it’s definitely something to think about. There were a few missed opportunities in that game when certain players were wide open and not targeted, for whatever reason.
What SHOULD be discussed: Offensive Line/Receivers
I find it hard to believe that NO ONE is talking about our offensive line. There are 11 guys out on that field at a time and it is in NO WAY, shape or form more one guy’s fault than the next. Our offensive line was getting beat the majority of the time, severely limiting Flacco’s time in the pocket. We shouldn’t be getting beat like that, ESPECIALLY when theare not blitzing. In addition to the line not holding strong, our receivers were also not separating, making it very difficult for them to get open. I understand Housh is still getting used to our offense, but there shouldn’t be any excuse for the rest of them.
Hot Topic: Penalties
I hate hearing people complain that the referees were the reason we lost the game. Don’t get me wrong, the penalties in this game were definitely some key points in this game since both put the Bengals within field goal range (6 points, and we lost by how many?), but they are not entirely to blame.
First, the tripping call on Ray Lewis. This one I found to be absolutely absurd. Ray was coming in for the sack and was hit at the knees by Bengals RB Bernard Scott, which resulted in him hitting the ground rolling. Carson saw him coming and tried to get out of the way but ended up tripping over Lewis’ feet. So does that mean the tripping call is made in both cases, intentional or accident? Who knows. There’s nothing you can do about it.
The most talked about penalty was the roughing the passing call on Suggs. The official that made the call, Gene Steratore, had the following to say:
“The roughing-the-passer, as I defined it in my opinion on that play, is the defender who has driven his body weight onto the quarterback as he’s tackling him. He’s applying his body weight on there. It’s a judgment call and in my opinion, I felt like he had driven himself into the ground with the quarterback.”
How are you supposed to take down a QB like Carson Palmer without using your body weight? And furthermore, how is he supposed to stop himself mid-tackle once the ball is released? He’s right in that fact that it is a judgment call, but it’s easy to disagree with his final decision.
What SHOULD be discussed: Defense
Everyone keeps talking about the bad things that went on in this game. Where are all the discussions on what we did right? Our defense was on POINT. We held Cedric Benson to 23 carries for 78 yards, something we weren’t able to do last year. He passed the century mark BOTH games against us last season; the only other player to do that against us in 2009 was Adrian Peterson. Ray Lewis had 10 tackles and Haloti Ngata had eight. Our secondary, which has always been our weakest point, didn’t allow Palmer to connect with his top receivers, even though he continued to try. And how about the fact that we’ve gone eight quarters of football without allowing a touchdown? Forget about that one?
In addition to our defensive performance, the Bengals also came out with an exceptional defensive showing. For anyone to say they are not one of the top 10 defenses in the NFL, if not top five, is crazy. They held our run game to a minimum (though we didn’t utilize it much at all; that’s a completely different story) and our receivers were shut down, not to mention the four picks we threw. This was definitely a great game to watch if you like the games that are completely defense.
Some other quick things to mention that came into play this game:
- Lack of running game; Ray Rice should have been utilized more the second half to take pressure off of Flacco
- Special teams hold blame as well. Parmele did great on returns (minus the fumble); Zbi – not so much, but better than week one.
- Two away games in a row and a short week. You can’t say that it didn’t have an effect on the game, no matter how minuscule it may have been.
- Have you forgotten that Marvin Lewis was our defensive coordinator for five years and took us to the Superbowl? He knows how we play.
Comments and opinions welcome! Use this opportunity to complain about the game, or highlight the good! I’d love to hear what you guys think. Also, what do you think will be the keys to the game against the Browns this Sunday?
(On a side note, has anyone looked at the Browns schedule for the next seven weeks? Ravens, Bengals, Falcons, Steelers, Saints, Patriots and Jets. Looks to me like there is serious potential for them to go 0-9…)