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In my opinion...

 

In my opinion…

Everyone here remembers the prolific 2008 season, Rookie QB coming into the unexpected starting position; will he be able to handle the NFL coming from a small school? A Rookie head coach getting the job out of nowhere, the job many thought he stole from Rex Ryan; will a special team’s coordinator be able to handle the pressures of coaching an entire team? How will the defense fare without Rex Ryan?

These were the questions that were stemming from every angle of the press, but we made it to the AFC championship game, and in the end it was a rookie playing like a rookie. But every moment before that, the long 4th down completion to Heap, did the play clock run out? Who cares? Every Ravens fan will tell you it felt good to get a call go their way for a change. Especially after that whole did Santonio Holmes cross the goal line? Point is he didn’t, game was rigged fuck the Steelers. It was a good run that left us fans’ with a sour taste but with the hope that it wasn’t just a fluke and that for once we actually drafted a good quarterback

 Since then our team has drastically improved, Flacco is coming into his own, and Ray Rice is one of the best backs in the game. Since the 2008 season the Ravens haven’t looked back. Flacco’s track record 3 years in the league 3 consecutive playoff berths. Pretty damn good if you ask me. Everyone says Elite QB's win, they win when it matters, they win Super Bowl's .Anyone can argue that Flacco hasn’t done that; we haven’t beaten the Steelers when we need to. But that’s beside the fact that he has gone on the road and won in the playoffs. We have been one play away from going to the super bowl the past three years! I just do not understand how every analyst except for Clayton can give Flacco the shaft. He hasn’t won the big game...yet, but does that mean he’s a bad quarterback? He’s won playoff games on the road and matt Ryan hasn’t done anything since he’s been in the league, and yet he’s considered a top ten QB. I get that he made the Falcons better blah blah blah. Point is if winning games that matter is the only thing that is important then Flacco has Ryan beat by a long shot. Being drafted at such a high pick as number 3 gives you the spot light, and he undeservedly receives it. Every analyst will take a shot in the mouth for Ryan until Flacco beats him.

 You think Bulger was the answer week 2 against the Bengals? If that’s the case I will oh so boldly say you have no faith. Bulger was a good quarterback who had one great year, and ever since then he wasn’t able to get off his back like a 2 dollar hooker. He never won a playoff game, point blank. If you want to make the point that Bulger is such a good quarterback why is Bradford having such success with the same team? I will say that he was beaten to a pulp in his time with the Rams, and this time he’s had to recover could spell a big contract for a seasoned vet.

 But the fact of the matter is that Flacco is a great quarterback and this season I feel that there is going to be a consensus around the league of his greatness.

After a 12-4 season why is there much disappointment? Simple, were built to win now. I guarantee that most of you thought championship (no not the houshamazilla fantasy football commercial) after we traded for Boldin. Finally a big time receiver in the charm city, a big explosive receiver and the sure hands and route running of derrick mason and Todd heap, the hard running of ray rice and the always stout D. Were golden.  Where did we go wrong?  I personally believe it was for multiple reasons, the coordinators, the offensive line, defensive line, receivers, running game and the secondary.

 

The offensive line

It is problem that reoccurs year in and year out, the inconsistency along the offensive line and unfortunately this is where most of our problems came from last year. The most detrimental result of this was the amount of sacks that Flacco took. Many say that it’s because he holds onto the ball for too long, and that may be the case in some instances but if there’s a defender in the backfield almost every play you can’t use that excuse every time. The plays that cam calls take time to develop especially in the passing game, that’s when critics start to say that the receiver’s we have aren’t good enough, their too old, and that we don’t have enough weapons for our quarterback. I firmly believe that it all starts up front. If Peyton manning can do what he did last season with virtually unknown receivers and make them look like pro bowlers I believe it’s because the offensive line is holding their own. 

 You can look at the stats from 2009 to 2010 and say that Jared Gaither was a better left tackle than Michael Oher. I personally believe that after having a year under his and getting used to the offense Oher will hone his game. There is no doubt in my mind with his work ethic, determination, and dedication that he will improve and protect Flacco’s blindside. Personally, I say that we get rid of Jared Gaither by any means necessary. He is a cancer to this football team, a long shot that panned out and got cocky. He is lazy and has no dedication at all; going in to training camp underweight is a perfect example of that.  I’m not saying that he faked an injury because I think we all know that he would have gotten called out on it, but the timing of it all seems too convenient for me as he was displeased when his position was switched. Demanding a new contract in the offseason and then having an injury and everything else that he’s done is just obnoxious.

 I am a Baltimore Ravens fan, I am proud to say that. I am happy that my team stands for things like dedication, hard work, and family. Gaither does not play like a raven, plain and simple. Get rid of him. It’s obviously every team’s goal to win the super bowl and to do so you have to have your best players on the field. Gaither isn’t a great player yet; he’s shown flashes of greatness with incredible potential which is then followed by laziness, and pity. Don’t think I have I have it out for the guy, he’s a Maryland product and I’ll always support him but he needs a swift kick in the ass. With that being said if he is able to come back and do his job then keep him, but I highly doubt this will happen

I am tired of the makeshift offensive line that we used last year. I say we move Yanda back to his more natural position at RG. And give Oniel Cousins and the rookie Jah Reid a shot at RT. Reid seems to have all the tools necessary to be a solid RT, and he may be more of a project, and I know that this isn’t the best option but I just do not feel that Chester is good enough to start, and unless Gaither drastically changes his entire demeanor then this is what we could do.  Both of these guys may be suspect with blitzes coming off the edge, but with an extra blocking tight end on the right side this should work out fine.  We have enough depth at TE to plug in Pitta or Dickson as the blocking TE and still have Heap to run routes, as well as an extra running back staying in to help block.

 

Running backs/ Fullbacks

Ray Rice is the number one back, and last year he got enough carries to back that up, but still his YPC dropped from the year before, and he didn’t hit those big home run plays that he had in 2009. The running game in the league is changing as a whole; you can’t have just one solid back anymore. Those days of Terrell Davis and Emmitt smith running the rock as the primary back are over. I fear that Rice will get worn down, so that is why it is imperative that we keep either McGahee or McClain. McGahee is set to make much more than what he is worth, but who is to say that he wouldn’t renegotiate to stay on a team that has a chance to will a world championship. I know that his agent said that there would not be any negotiations but he has openly stated that he would like to return to the purple and black for another year. It is a long shot but I like what he brings to the table, and if we can’t keep him then I feel we have to do everything to keep McClain. He wants the ball more, you can’t blame the guy after the season that he had in 2008. You cannot deny the impact that he has when he has the ball in his hand, as well as his solid blocking abilities. He is a much too valuable and consistent assed to the running game to lose. I do not know much about McKie, but I do know that he was given a tender so it seems to me that the team likes his skill set as a blocking FB and will let McClain test the market.

So behind Rice and with McGahee likely gone who do we have? Jalen Parmele was getting a lot more reps as the season wore on, and he has good speed and good size. Parmele was used more on special teams, but saw action in every game last year. He seems to be the front runner with Allen to replace McGahee. I just don’t know how much production he’s worth since he hasn’t been used in the running that often.

 There’s also Curtis Steele who has great hands, and a big body but most likely won’t beat out Parmele. Matt Lawrence tore his ACL and was put on the PUP list and then IR. He is great on special teams, and has a big body. The rookie Anthony Allen is another big back who could see time in short yardage situations behind Parmele.

The running game struggled at time last year, but I am very hopeful that everything will tighten up along the front lines for the offense.

 

Receivers

The acquisition of Anquan Boldin was huge for our team, but still our passing statistics dropped from 2009 to 2010. With such a big named receiver that many thought would evolve our offense, why at times did it seem that we couldn’t complete a pass if our lives depended on it? It’s simple really; we didn’t have enough weapons outside of Boldin, Heap, and Mason. Mason is a possession receiver, he and Flacco have an unspoken connection with the best out routes in the game. Boldin is that big receiver that can go over the middle and will definitely take on the team’s best corners, and was often double covered. Heap is just heap, physical, and reliable. All three of these guys have sure hands and a leadership role. But outside of these three, was there a viable consistent receiver that came to make the big plays? Housh? No, outside of the week 4 game winning TD against the Steelers, he didn’t really do much. When it came down to that last play that determined our season he dropped the ball. People make mistakes I understand that, but for someone who talks as much as he does about wanting the ball and dropping it when the game is on the line is simply unacceptable. I loved when he signed him, a proven veteran through his years in Cincinnati. He will not be with the team next year, and neither will stallworth. I think I was more excited about the signing of stallworth than housh simply because I felt like he would hit the ground running, play with a chip on his shoulder after what happened with his situation. He has blazing speed, and decent hands. Unfortunately his injuries hurt his production and the only impact he had was a long pass completion against the Steelers. I was hoping he would bring more to our team, but I like the guy, everyone makes mistakes and I’m glad that he was given a second chance to turn his life around, but he will likely have to find employment elsewhere

The Ravens are extremely high on David reed, and rightfully so. I have a huge feeling that this kid is going to be a star, he has great speed, and from what I understand he was killing it in training camp last year. He is really going to come into his own playing in the slot; this kid is definitely a playmaker. He also is dynamic on special teams, his kick return for a TD in the Houston game was just amazing all around.

Marcus Smith is a stud on special teams and that seems to be about it, he’s been on the league for a while and hasn’t stood out enough to get any playing time. I really think the only reason the Ravens would keep him is due to the fact that he’s a great gunner but that seems to be about it and the same goes for Justin harper, I just really feel like these two have over stayed their welcomed without producing on the field.

 James hardy and Brandon Jones were signed, that does not however mean that they are going to make the team. Hardy was 2nd round pick for the bills, and Jones was a 3rd round pick for Tennessee. They both seem to have incredibly talent and potential and haven’t been able to mesh everything together and had an impact for their respective teams. Hopefully one of these guys will step up, and break out in training camp, especially Hardy, there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding this guy after the voluntary workouts this past week. Injuries plagued the start of his career in buffalo so maybe with a fresh healthy start he can come in to Baltimore guns blazing.

Behind the sure handed heap, we have some crafty young guys who had flashes of playmaking abilities. Ed Dickson’s 30 something yard catch and rumble to the end zone against the saints was incredible. He did have some critical drops, but he is going to come into his own and mature into a good player. Many have dubbed him as the potential breakout player of the year next season, and I agree with this as a possibility. Pitta seems more of a blocking tight end as he didn’t have many opportunities to get his hands on the ball. But his talent and soft hands are undeniable. David Reed and Ed Dickson are going to have breakout seasons.

I really feel like this could be a dynamic year for the Ravens passing game, drafting the speedy Torrey Smith out of Maryland was a great pick that addressed a dire need. I was ecstatic because I’ve watched this kid play for years while he was at Maryland. He is the deep threat that if he can get familiar with the pro game he could have the Mike Wallace type of caliber season as a rookie. I hate comparing him to a Steeler but we all know MW is a great player. Smith has soft hands, and has the ability to stretch the field. His kind of speed and hands will make teams think twice about double teaming Anquan Boldin. This is a kid that has a heartfelt story of triumph over adversity, so you know that he’s going to work his butt off to get on the field.

Tandon Doss is another pick that I was very excited about, this kid is tough playing with two hernias that tore off the bone. According to Todd McShay he had the best hands in this year’s draft outside of A.J Green. He catches the ball away from his body, and does not drop passes. If the ball is near him he will catch it. Check out the highlight of him making a one handed catch against Ohio St.  The only knock on Doss is that he doesn’t have many YAC, but I see big play ability from this kid. Doss and Smith complement each so well because of their different playing styles. Smith has the speed and home run hitting ability, and Doss is the crisp route runner, and has hands that are like glue.

The Ravens offense is really going to evolve this year. The veteran sure hands of Heap, Mason, and Boldin injected with the youth, speed, and hands of Smith, Doss and Hardy should prove to be a make or breakout year for Flacco. This provides depth, prevents double teaming, and makes defenses stay true and respect the deep ball. I see Reed in the slot, and doss going over the middle, Mason on the out route, Boldin bullying corners in the end zone, Smith blazing by entire defenses, and heap making more diving catches against the jets(ha ha). This in turn will open up the running game, I for one am very excited about this season.

 

Secondary

The secondary was considered by most to be the weakest part of our entire team. When Foxworth who many dubbed as our number 1 corner went down with an ACL, the Ravens were in panic mode. So it seemed that we wouldn’t have a true number one corner on the roster and were hoping for one of our in house guys to step up.

Chris Carr was solid all year long, I really can’t say that enough, he held his own. Strong against the run, and was great in coverage. Lardarius Webb who is a hometown favorite played well but not great. He didn’t really impress me the way that he did at the end of the 2009 season as a rookie. He still continues to get better.

The trade for josh Wilson was in my opinion the best thing that the Ravens could have done to bolster their pass defense , and we got much more than what we gave up for him. His highlights include the game winning interception for a touchdown against the Texans. The ball may have been thrown right too him but he still made the play and was in the right position. This kid is a play maker and I really hope that we can find a way to keep both Wilson and Carr. They both have proven to be solid corners.

Once the weakest position on the Ravens last year I feel is one of the deepest, you now have proven veterans worthy of a starting role. This means Carr, and Wilson who both played great. Lardarius Webb is still learning but could come into a starting role at some point. Many people forget that Dominique Foxworth is coming back from injury, and from the personal workouts last week seems to be in good shape. Before his injury he led all corners in the NFL with 4 interceptions, and is the clear number one corner. And Fabian Washington should just be cut. End of story.

The Ravens have had all the pieces on defense the past couple of years, but have lacked that one big playmaking cornerback.  But it seems as though the Ravens have found there shut down corner clone of Chris McAlister. This kid is the big physical, aggressive corner that the Ravens have been looking for since McAlister was plagued by injuries and virtually run out of town.  He has all the tools to be a starter and a playmaker from day one. Yes, I am talking about Jimmy Smith. His talent is undeniable, but many are worried about his “off the field issues” I really believe that all this hype was for nothing. Everyone makes mistakes; he has been open and honest about everything. He says that is has been two years since his last incident and all of that hopefully matured him, and even if he does want to continue those ways, the locker room will handle him. I personally love what this kid brings to the table, and I think that he is going to be force on our team, and help evolve our pass rush. So imagine Foxworth and Smith playing on the corners, and Carr and Wilson subbing in and out, the pass rush being able to do its thing. Pagano opening up the playbook, and letting the pressure fly. I think that this year our secondary will flourish.

You really don’t hear much about Dawan Landry, this is good and bad. He is doing enough in pass coverage to hold his, but is a force in the run game. I really think that we need to try and keep him. He has been a mainstay beside Reed for his entire career. A lot of people think that we should give Zibikowski the job, but I disagree. Ed reed is on the backside of his career, and I do not mean skill wise at all. His age and injuries are going to spell retirement for him at some point.

While he was on the PUP list, Zibby excelled as our backup free safety in everything except turnovers.  If we use Zibikowski as the replacement for Landry then who will take reeds spot? I don’t really trust anyone else back their except for reed or Zibby. Unless we spend a high draft pick on a free safety in the upcoming drafts I don’t see any other solutions. You can say that Libby will fill reeds spot and Nakamura can fill Landry’s spot, but do you really think that Haruki will be a better replacement? The Ravens have always filled that position well, and seem to freely let safeties go. I.e. Will Demps.

Landry’s injury a couple years ago was devastating, I’m sure that it had some effect on his game but I still think that he would be more effective than Nakamura, in the pass game and in run support.

Everyone tries to compare Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu, and analysts such as James Walker simply said you can’t compare the two stating that “Troy Reed” is the number one safety in the NFL. My take is simply they are two completely different players who play different positions. They both have amazing skill sets, but the fact is it’s not Reeds job to play the run, he is ball hawking safety that covers the entire field. Polamalu is an overly aggressive strong safety who has the freedom to press the line. He makes plays but they are different types of plays.  Yes they both blitz, they both cover, but when was the last time you saw Reed blitz off the corner? That’s mostly a corner or Landry who is, yes a strong safety. I could see the comparisons if they played the same position.  And if Polamalu is the best player on the Steelers, then where was he in the super bowl. The Steelers and the so called best defensive player in the game got torched by the Packers. I agree that both players have a great impact on their respective teams, but the Ravens had maybe 2 Ints before reed came back. The game does come back he has 2 picks and a forced fumble. You just cannot deny that.

 

Pass Rush

I was very much disappointed with the pass rush that the Ravens had this past year. The pressure was there but we just could not get the quarterback to the ground, and it often seemed like a miracle when we did. The corners didn’t help the situation until the end of the year when reed was back in Pro bowl form.

Paul Kruger in my opinion would be every bit of a disappointment if it weren’t for the fact that he hasn’t gotten much playing time, he has made big plays but just doesn’t have the consistency when he does get in the game. He was supposed to bolster our pass rush immediately as a second round pick but he only had 1 sack last year. He did make a position change, and is very athletic and has a high motor; I think we will see more out of him this upcoming year

Cory Redding was solid at times, and inconsistent at others, he still tallied 3 sacks on Suggs opposite side. Most of the pressure came from Suggs who came back with a great year with 11 sacks, and Ngata who had 5.5 sacks, but outside of these sack leaders who will be there to step up?

Terrance Cody was starting to look more comfortable at the end of the year, and should have a breakout season next year.  The great Oz also believes that he will be the breakout player for the Ravens next year. Kelly Gregg is a hometown favorite that always seems to be in the right place at the right time, making the plays when we need them most. I don’t know how much he has left in the tank, but he is still one of the most underrated players in the game.

 Arthur Jones is another kid I am very high on, this kid is a freak. He has been shedding weight working out with his MMA belt holding brother Jon “Bones” Jones. I would love for this guy to make the switch to DE after losing weight training with his brother. He has a high motor and is very athletic, and the guy is always smiling, you just have to love him. I am really rooting for him to break out and get some playing time. There is also McKinney who filled in nicely for Ngata when he went down with an injury, his numbers don’t jump out at you but there consistent and he has experience, as well as Divens who was just a reserve last season who didn’t really see much playing time.

Pernell McPhee is considered a raw prospect, but his numbers from JC are staggering, and he was still productive after he transferred to Miss St. This kid has been labeled “relentless” which is exactly what the Ravens need to get in the quarterbacks face and force him to throw up ducks.

I truly think that an improved secondary and a new defensive coordinator whose entire goal is to get after the quarterback will improve our sack totals, and turnover numbers. I still would not be surprised to see the Ravens go after a pure pass rusher like ray Edwards, or Cullen Jenkins. In fact Ozzie said that he will make a move for a pass rusher.

 

Coordinators

I think that it was pretty simple to tell what play the Ravens would call on 2nd or 3rd and short. Dive up the middle. When it worked everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and when it didn’t somehow my just finished beer can ended up across the room in frustration. Our offense was so Vanilla, and predictable this past season that it made me sick. 2008 was a magical season for us Ravens fans, Flacco receiving passes from troy smith, flea flickers for touchdowns. What has happened? We added Boldin this past year and this was supposed to be enough to get the Ravens over the Steelers hump but it seemed as though the play calling got worse. I personally am just tired of utterly idiotic play calls when the game is on the line. I.e. the polamalu fumble

I just really hope that with these new weapons that the Ravens have drafted the play calling gets better because after this season there will be no excuses for Cameron to blame mistakes on Flacco.

Greg Mattison has been around football for a very long time, and I respect him a lot but he just was not cut out to be the heir to the throne left by Rex Ryan. He was much too passive, and I hated that my defense was running a 4-3, and although that it makes sense that our corners were weak to run this defense it burned us worse than to run a 3-4. There were way too many big plays given up due to this, and there was not nearly enough blitzing. I sincerely wish Mattison all the luck at Michigan St. but I am happy that he is gone, and I truly hope that Pagano can restore the swagger in the defense that it seemed to have lacked last season.

 

 

This is my opinion… go ahead and tell me yours

-          JCroUSAF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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