A fully healthy Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, Lardarius Webb and an in football shape Suggs, and our defense would probably be pretty good. Not yet, but I am beginning to have my doubts about Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees. I know he is down some key guys, but something tells me that Chuck Pagano would have elicited a better response out of this unit. We may have still lost, but it may have been closer/respectable.
The Houston Texans are a good football team. There has been a lot of talk, maybe too much talk, about how the Texans haven't beaten anybody good, they got embarrassed by the Green Bay Packers on their home turf, etc. Houston is a good football team- make no mistake about that. Folks may say we came out flat, never got off the plane, -nope, we just have too many key players down and we were losing guys during the game which compounded the issues. And against a good team like the Texans, we got exposed. Ravens have a lot of work to do over the next two weeks.
Jacoby Jones. Yes, so far he has been worth it. He has been a very good #3 WR and our return teams are to be feared now.
Young Tuck. He is hitting everything rock solid and added a 54-yarder that was almost near perfect. Somewhere, I am sure Stover is quite proud to see his kicking shoe filled quite nicely. Billy who?
Heck, Special Teams in general had a good day. So I guess one team out of three ain't bad... not... Koch shanked a punt but it happens. He has earned a pass. Better he does it during a blowout than during a nail-biter.
Suggs. He was only in like three or four snaps and he recorded a sack, knocked a pass down, covered a pass (quite nicely I'll add) and added a couple of tackles for good measure. All in very limited playing time. Imagine if he could play every snap. Why he might just be "elite"...
Receivers. Dennis Pitta and Torrey Smith had a couple of grabs each and Torrey drew a couple of PI's. Tandon Doss's TD was the only play that showed some creativity and ingenuity (and execution-!). But for the most part, as a group, they could not get separation, which means Joe had to hold onto the ball longer which meant...
The O-Line. The Texans were just too much. Couldn't run block, couldn't pass block, which combined with the lack of separation of the receiving core and Joe Flacco was picking those green fuzzies out of his teeth all day long.
No matter what offense you run, it all starts with the O-Line. Our O-line is bad. When there are that many tips and knocked down passes, the O-line isn't doing its job -especially since Joe is usually not tipped so much. In fact, I believe both his picks were tipped balls. Our O-line, as bad as it was/is in the pass blocking department, we always were dominant in the run game. More times than not, we could grade a road for Ray Rice. Now, we aren't even doing that. It is like we are trying to throw ping-pong balls at the D-line and hope one of them gets in their face mask and takes an eye out to stop them. No push.
The penalties. I think we ended up with more penalty yards than rushing yards. I didn't know that was even possible... And Christian Thompson. Boy, there is an off-season acquisition that is paying dividends. Not.
The Injuries. It seems like every other play almost, a Raven goes down. Not really anybody's fault per se, but as we saw against the Texans, when we don't have the folks against a good team, we get clobbered.
The defense. For the Texans, it was "stat day". Didn't matter which play they ran- Pees had no idea where to even begin to slow them down. Bad scheme, too few adjustments and players didn't execute -the perfect trifecta for spotting an opponent 40+ points. For whatever reason, we are having a hard time shedding blocks and tackling. RB's aren't getting hit until two yards past the line of scrimmage, and then they are able to get three more yards because of poor tackling. The lack of push and counter-punch upfront is killing us. Opposing drives are sustained, opponents time of possession increases, which wears down the defense and it spirals out of control like today. The Texans last TD drive was absolutely pathetic. During film study this week Harbaugh needs to get on his "R. Lee Ermey" with these chuckleheads on defense. Stevie-B could have gotten a bunch high school wannabes and college never beens, saved a boatload of money and achieved the same result.
I could have added the Ravens' record to The Good: 5 - 2 heading into the bye. We have sole possession of first place in our division. I am hoping the two weeks off will help Ngata with his knee injury and that Suggs can get into better football shape also. And whatever other nicks and bruises we have- KO, Ed Reed, et al.
Joe Flacco did not have a good game. But he didn't have a terrible game either given the circumstances. Yeah, he may have misfired on a couple of passes, but given the pounding he was taking, not sure how much better he could have made it. And, it is important to underscore the fact that given the beatings he received, he still got back up. I think people do not give Joe enough credit for his toughness. It is a luxury knowing that if your QB gets whacked, he is going to get right back up. There are a lot of teams that hold their collective breath when a blitzer gets anywhere near their guy. The one thing I did notice, that Joe needs to work on going forward, is he seems to get rattled when things go really, really south. He seems to be able to overcome a little bit of adversity (see at P-burgh last year), but when all four wheels fall off the cart, he kind of turtles. Not that any QB doesn't, but if there is an area that he needs to work on, it is this. This is probably where the "lack of fire" criticism comes from.
And the trip to Cleveland is no gimme. The Browns went the distance with us at our place, beat Cincy, lost to Philly by one point (hmmm...) -this will not be an easy game. We kind of have to win in Cleveland and beat the visiting Raiders the following week so that if we split with P-burgh we will still be in good shape. At this juncture, I would love to head to Washington at 8 - 4. 9 - 3 would be D-Y-N-A-M-I-T-E.