There was improvement yesterday in the passing game –no doubt. Flacco’s mechanics were better and more consistent; and the pass blocking, except for once or twice, gave him the time he needed. I still agree with a previous poster’s comments about Flacco taking too much time to setup, but he seemed more deliberate –in a good way.
I am beginning to believe Flacco may be one of those QB’s that will always have that one head-scratching play per game, where you just grit your teeth, take a deep breath, and hope that was the only one. I am referring to the near pick-six in the first series. But I believe for the offense, both for Flacco the player and for entire unit, it is an evolving process that is taking place.
It seems like our defense gets victimized by the occasional extreme runner: Chris Johnson has done it to us. Brandon Jacobs of the Giants did it to us two years ago and now Hillis did it yesterday, very similarly to Jacobs, ‘cept we won this time. It happens. Browns, to their credit, have a very good OL and they devised a very good run game plan against us. I am personally not a big fan of the Wildcat but hats off to them for designing a well blocked play that fit our defense nearly perfectly (the 19 yard scamper by Cribbs during the second half out of the Wildcat formation). Hey, they are professionals also on that side of the ball and they get paid millions also.
The Good, the bad and the Ugly.
The Good: Flacco and the pass blocking –‘nuff said. Ball security –I do not believe we put the ball on the ground a single time today. Let us hope we keep that trend going forward. Cribbs and the overall Ravens pass defense. We kept Cribbs bottled-upped on special teams and he did 5-58 receiving –yawn. Wallace completed 75% of his passes but I really never felt threatened by him at all yesterday. TJ –glad to see him get into the mix. I think we will see a fair amount more of him in Pittsburgh. He is the kind of receiver that can give their DB’s fits. Cundiff- missing the 51 yarder really did not bother me especially when he nailed the 49-yarder to seal it. And he had deep, deep kickoffs; like John Holmes deep.
The Bad: Still, the lack of a decent pass rush. Lack of turnovers by the D. I know, we had two slip through our fingers last week, but our D needs to step it up in that department. Losing our composure. Not so angry at Oher as he was standing up for Heap. But D-Mase and Zbi –bad, bad, bad. And along those same lines, it appears whatever good ju-ju we had with the refs went out the window this week- three no-calls: a Flacco roughing and two PI’s that should have been called. Not sure what else Boldin has to do to start getting some laundry thrown his way, maybe give the refs some quarters before the game, maybe a box of Tide…
The Ugly: Our run defense, specifically our front seven; even more specifically our DL, Ray-Ray and Suggs. Suggs did not have a good game, period. It happens; not making excuses for the guy, but sometimes you get up in the morning, and the planets are just aligned against you. He has to bounce back in Pittsburgh and I believe he will. Our DL was pathetic. Gregg had a *few* bright spots, but they were few and far between; got no push against the run or the pass. Except for one holding penalty, we made Tony Pashos (remember him?) look very good. Are you kidding me?
Still the Ugly: Play calling. 23 rushes against 32 pass attempts? Do not care if Rice got dinged. We still have McGahee and McClain. RUN THE DAMN BALL!!! Yes, I know they were trying to get Flacco back on track, but that is too many passes versus runs for this offense. And for the love of all that is right and good, QUITE WITH THE BOLDIN TRICK PLAYS!!!!!!! Boldin is a top five receiver. USE HIM AS A TOP FIVE RECEIVER, DAMN IT (JANET-!) You see our run plays drop below 45% of our total plays, we will be in trouble against P-burgh.
There might have been a little looking past the brownies this week –cannot really blame the Ravens per se. But as someone else pointed out, we really have not gelled yet. I have not been able to put my finger on it, but the poster said it best when as of now, we are a bunch of players and not yet a team. There is good adversity and bad adversity. I believe Pittsburgh is good adversity. The kind of challenge that win, lose or draw, that if the Ravens take that next step (as a team), evolve the process, they will come out of Pittsburgh a much better team than when they went in. My point by that is, even if we lose, if we play very well and Pittsburgh just happens to play lights out perfect, it could be the kind of game that launches us on like an 11 – 1 tear… And if we win, look out the rest of the league…