For as good as the Ravens start the season, week 2 on the road just seems to be our kryptonite. Not sure what gives with that. But the coaches have to do a better job of building on the momentum acquired during week 1.
Fourteen or fifteen or so more yards. That is all we needed to get within in Tucker’s ICBM range. Game came down to either a) mounting a goal-line stand or b) having two chances to convert a 3rd and 2/4th and 2. That and some major brain farcs. Okay, on with it then. Happy Monday. Not.
You know it is a bad game when the leadoff is the kicker. And Special Teams. Justin Tucker is the real deal. He may already be one of the best in the league. Perfect five-for-five on the season including three bombs on Sunday. And his kickoffs are booming, for the most part. There seemed to be a little wind blowing in Philly and he mitigated that perfectly. All of his kicks had room to spare. Amazing.
The special teams. Both coverage and returns. Jacoby and Deonte both look like they are going to break one at any moment and the coverage has been above par –much improved over last season.
Vonte Leach. Didn’t think he could improve over last season. I gotta go back and rethink that. The guy is a flat-out Raven footballer.
Ray Rice. He had over 150 combined yards. I think he is averaging almost six and half yards a carry. Ridiculous. Ray has caught a lot of flak for his lack pass blocking skills. Let me tell you something, it ain’t always pretty, and he may miss a couple here and there, but there are no style points in blitz pick-up. Either you do it, or you don’t. And for the most part, for more than a year now, he has been doing it.
Pollard. Just like Leach. A flat-out Raven footballer. And kudos to Ed Reed for picking up his 999,999,999,999 career interception. And not fumbling it.
Let’s get it over with. I’ll say it. I am one of the biggest Joe Flacco fans around, but he had a bad game. He missed guys, he forced a couple of throws, one of which was a momentum changing interception. He just seemed out of rhythm. He had some pressure, but not insurmountable. The O-line is what it is this season. Not great, but young and athletic. But again, the O-line, so far has not been horrid. Except for Birk. He spent more time on his back than…, well you get the gist…
And not all Joe’s fault. The receivers had occasional moments of brilliance, but for the most part they were not creating separation. Ravens can probably win with either Joe having a bad day or the receivers not getting open. But not both. Does each contribute to each other? Absolutely. But at some point either Joe has to snap out of his funk or one or two of the receivers have to take the game on their back and do what they need to do to get open.
Which leads me to the play calling and lack of adjustments. The offense just could not get a good rhythm going. Also, we have a ten point lead in the second half (and a isx point lead late in the game). Slow things down; maybe grind out a couple of first downs. Even if you still end up punting, you at least eat up clock and give your defense a rest. There were two particularly galling three-and-outs in the second half which were a direct result of long incomplete passes. The bombs just weren’t working. Put Rice to work. Our run-blocking has actually been pretty good so far this season. Play to our strength occasionally when we need to. Jeez, protect a lead. Teams used to never be able to come back like that. Ten point lead? Game over.
It was especially remote-through-the-LCD-screen frustrating with two cracks at the end of the game to gain two yards –shuttle pass to Rice, quick pitch to Rice, quick slant to Boldin, a rub route, heck even a wide-receiver screen which seem all the rage in the NFL nowadays. But we were too plain, too predictable, too out of sync on those last two plays. Even a naked boot for Joe with a pass-run option –Joe probably could have lowered a shoulder and legged out two yards.
And how could we not adjust for Celek? We got okay pressure on Vick; I cannot believe by adjusting for Celek it would have completely disrupted our defensive game-plan.
Pass defense. The Maclin touchdown. What the heck was that? Somewhat compressed field and you still lose track of him? And where was the adjustment on Celek? How can you let Brent Celek beat you? Even the Eagles adjusted to Rice at the very end of the game after he burned then a couple of times on flares.
The (replacement) refs. Not saying they cost us the game, they didn’t; but guys getting mugged all over the field and they call a ticky-tacky offensive pass interference on Jones??? Holds uncalled all over the place; messed up an illegal contact which should have been pass interference; should have tossed Coleman for throwing a punch. The list goes on and on.
Cam. I already called out the coordinators under The Bad, but the offense was particularly ugly. I was going to lay off Cam this season, give the sugar huddle a chance to go through its growing pains but yesterday was brain-numbing stupefying.
One last thing I want to say. I honestly think that has we had Suggs, we would have won yesterday. I think a normal, healthy Suggs causes just enough additional disruption that either we make a goal-line stand and turn a 7 into a 3, or on other drives stop Philly short of FG range. I know there is no scientific basis for doing so, but I chalk this one up as one we could have had, had Suggs played. A one game won-loss swing could be the difference between divisional winner and wildcard; or even in or out of the playoffs. The AFCN is that tight this year.
Now we gear up for New England after they dropped a game they should have won– so I don’t feel so bad, especially since it was because of a missed FG -ever heard of living by the sword, dying by the sword? While a victory against Brady and The Brain would be sweet, it will only go so far in removing the stench from the end of last season.