With the firing of Cam, I would have expected a little more something-something from the offense. Ironically it appeared to be the defense that was fired up yesterday. The offensive players just did not execute. The mental breakdowns, physical breakdowns –very inauspicious beginning to the Caldwell era.
And the 900-pound gorilla in the room cannot be ignored. Injuries are taking their toll on both sides of the ball. The defense was valiant in the first half and did nearly everything imaginable, but they just didn’t have it to respond again in the second half.
That Ravens defense yesterday- that was basically a second string NFL defense –the kind you see in the preseason once you pull your starters. No Ray-Ray, no Pollard, no Webb, no Jimmy Smith, no Suggs for a good chunk of the game (and not sure how effective he was when he was in), a hobbled Ngata, and most of the other LB’s who would have been starting were out also.
That BEEP BEEP BEEP you hear- that is the Ravens backing into the playoffs. No matter how you slice it, all that matters is getting into the playoffs. Yesterday was a prime example that games in September count as much as the ones in December.
Pitta. Nice effort on his second touchdown of the day. Has a nice ring to it- "Pitta’s second touchdown of the day". I think he was helped just a tad on his rumble as it appeared that the Denver defense had already checked onto the plane at that point.
Jacoby. Had a nice day. Again. Nice pattern developing here with him.
The defense for the first half. Anytime you can hold Peyton to ten points half means you are doing something right. Too bad they couldn’t re-adjust to the halftime adjustments Peyton & Co. made.
The O-line. We will get to Joe in a minute. But his O-line did nothing to help out at all today. Yes, injuries are taking their toll on this unit also but they have got to give this team something… anything…
Flacco. It starts with him. His throws were off; and then of course his Boller-esque miscues. Had the first down and fumbles; and of course the Pick-6 to close out the first half. That was just a dagger in the posterior interventricular sulcus. He is definitely in a slump as his throws have been uncharacteristically off the past couple of games. Not talking deep balls –those are low-percentage no matter who is chucking it. He has missed throws the past couple of weeks that he normally makes in his sleep. Joe is in slump right now and he needs to get out of it right quick. Even the pick-6 seemed to not have the zip on it he normally puts on outs. He makes that throw a half dozen times each game…
The defense in fourth quarter, facing third down and a chance to get the ball right back again and who knows, maybe at least make a game it. You know Denver is going to run it. And Denver is able to rip off a TEN MINUTE DRIVE-! How does that even happen in the NFL? There was nothing fancy about that drive. Even Cam sitting on his couch knew what was coming and we couldn’t get a stop.
The penalties. The Ravens are in the bottom five of NFL teams for penalties and it is just sapping whatever chance we have in games. Players are losing their composure which is in excusable. And how do you substitute late during a kick-of, WHILE THE PLAY IS HAPPENING?!?!??!?!
I’ll have a plate of whoop-ass and please hold the Rice. I expected to see two things out of Caldwell. 1) Better and different receiver formations and patterns, which I did. 2) More Rice, which I didn’t. It would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable to not use Rice heavily. He is the best offensive weapon. And not only was he not given the ball early and often, he was substituted by Pierce a goodly amount. Pierce is putting together a nice rookie campaign and all, but he is no Rice. And this "saving Rice" nonsense- saving for what? For "Battle of the Network All-Stars 2013" during the offseason? This (lack of Rice) is mind boggling…
Not sure where to put him but Cary Williams. Gets beat and commits a really stupid personal foul, but then at other times is absolutely brilliant in shutting down his man. Maddening inconsistent. He had some highlight plays and then he had other plays that either get you in the Doghouse or cut. I think he has the physical tools and abilities –it just seems like he loses his head at times. And one would think mental mistakes would have been corrected long before Week 15.
I get it- new offense coordinator coupled with injuries all over the place on offense (Yanda, Torrey during the game) and the offense is going to look ugly. Players on offense, including Joe, did seem a bit tentative. Caldwell is obviously putting his own spin on the offense, which is good but it will take time. Yesterday looked a lot like an early pre-season game where the offense is still working things out.
I mentioned the penalties before. This season the Ravens have been awful in the penalty department. That will bite us in the playoffs badly if not corrected (think Zeus against the Titans). Harbaugh supposedly corrected that when he came in. And it appeared that he did so. But I am wondering if there is not a deeper issue or issues with this team. The whole Cam situation may have just been a distraction. You hear things like "near mutiny" earlier in the season; and then you see players lose their composure week after week lately. That is a clear indicator that the coach and coaches are not getting through. I am not suggesting that Harbaugh has "lost" this team or is losing it, but something smells really, really bad…
Will be very interesting to see how this team responds: next game a home game against an eerily similar team; a team that is good but lately inconsistent and cornered/wounded, heading in the wrong direction with its season on the line. Granted the Giants situation is a little more dire, but they do not have nearly the injury issues that we have. The Ravens need to dig down within themselves and right this thing. Two convincing wins against playoff-caliber teams would be the perfect tonic for momentum going into the playoffs.