Just a few weeks ago fans in Baltimore were riding the emotional roller coaster that was the NFL lockout and subsequent shortened free agent period. Now, as the Ravens head in to their bye week, the roller coaster shows no signs of slowing down or flattening out. After a week one historic butt whipping of the hated Pittsburgh Steelers and a week two disappointing /convincing loss to the Tennessee Titans many fans didn't know if their team was headed up or down. Two dominant weeks later faith has been restored and Baltimore is sitting atop the AFC North.
Three of the four weeks to start the season the Ravens have been dominating on defense. Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata have been putting on a clinic on how to scare the crap out of opposing quarterbacks. Ray Lewis must be taking bubble baths in the fountain of youth as well. Baltimore has continued to find productive players through the draft and free agency. Young players like Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Pernell McPhee are steadily coming into their own while veterans like Cory Redding and Bernard Pollard seem to have been reborn here in Baltimore.
Although there was a bump in the road week two in Tennessee, this team has the makings of something special. I do not want to make excuses for my team. However, I believe the Titans game was a bit of a perfect storm scenario. It was their home opener and the Ravens had no idea what to expect from them. Not to mention how hard it is to go into a tough environment like that after such an emotional week one victory. In the long run I think a bit of humble pie is just what the doctor ordered. A team must know what it is like to lose together just as they know how to win together. The Titans are a good team and we may get our chance to avenge that loss down the road. The scariest thing about this team is that the defense is getting better every week. With the return of Jimmy Smith the sky is the limit for this group.
Joe Flacco and the offense have shown flashes of brilliance in the Pittsburgh and St. Louis games and also looked inept at times against the Titans and Jets. The later two having two of the better defenses in the league. This is understandable considering the shortened training camps and all the changes made to the receiving corps. Surprisingly one of the brightest spots has been the offensive line. Bryant McKinnie has played above expectations and Andre Gurode has filled in nicely for the injured Ben Grubbs. Micheal Oher is having his penalty issues again but hopefully this will all pass with time as he adjusts back to the right side.
I was a bit concerned when we let go of Todd Heap and Derrick Mason but our young players have stepped up nicely. The addition of Lee Evans was supposed to spread out opposing defenders to make room for Anquan Boldin and Ed Dickson on intermediate routs. After the preseason Evans was clearly not at full speed and was a non factor in the first two games. The team decided to keep him out for a few weeks and Torrey Smith has taken advantage of his opportunity to say the least. After his three touchdown performance in week three Cam Cameron immediately called plays to get him in the mix against the Jets in week four. Although he had no catches, Smith did his job and kept the safeties on their toes. Torrey even got the ultimate compliment of having Darrelle Revis put on him at times. Ray Rice is being Ray Rice. He is clearly one of the premier play makers in the NFL today. We are lucky he is on our side!
It is clear that Cam Cameron has opened up his playbook and is letting Joe Flacco take the reins of this (at times) high powered offense. Flacco now has the tools around him to be successful with a defense to match. There is a lot to be excited about if you are a fan of the Baltimore Ravens. Every where on this team there are talented young players waiting to get in the mix. There is still a lot we have yet to see from this squad. When will Sergio Kindle make his REAL debut? Where will Jimmy Smith be on the depth chart when he returns? How much will Lee Evans bring to the team when he is healthy? Who is Bryan McCann and will he help the return game? I know I will feel much better not seeing Ed Reed returning punts. All these questions are exciting and I for one cant wait for some answers!!!