It's fair to say that the Ravens should have done a lot better in their 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. It was Baltimore's home opener and they were facing a Browns offense that has a dismal-looking quarterback in Brandon Weeden, but a defense that was looking more solid than it has in years past.
The Ravens entered the game still without Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta, two receivers who are sorely missed. By the end of the game, Arthur Brown and Chykie Brown had left the field because of pectoral injuries, Chris Canty left with a groin injury, and Ray Rice went down with a hip injury. Every one of the aforementioned players is crucial to the Ravens' chemistry.
Chykie Brown had an excellent showing against the Giants last December and is an easy #3 cornerback on the depth chart who is constantly improving.
Canty had a solid Week 1 showing against the Broncos with a sack, two tackles and three quarterback hits. The Ravens need Canty to be on the defensive line week in and week out.
Arthur Brown was one of the Ravens' top draft picks, and he displays excellent potential at the linebacker position. However, sports hernia surgery before the draft and this last weekend's injury he sustained are premonitions that Arthur Brown could be injury-prone.
Lastly, Ray Rice went down with a painful-looking strained hip flexor. He sustained the injury on a no-contact play, but recent news reveals the injury is not serious.
Naturally there was concern as to how the Ravens would play out the game with key players going down. I was impressed by the turn around the offense displayed in the second half. Bernard Pierce stepped up in Rice's absence: he recorded 57 yards on 19 carries and scored the Ravens' first touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Yesterday served as reassurance that the Ravens have depth in the backfield with Vonta Leach and Bernard Pierce. The duo did an excellent job splitting carries to carry the Ravens to a win.
It's clear the Ravens' offense is still coming together and working out a sustainable chemistry, but the bottom line is that wins like these are not going to get the Ravens far this season. Joe Flacco and Jim Caldwell face a difficult task in working around the absences of key players. The Ravens' offense must be flexible and find a way to win with the cards they are dealt. This is Joe Flacco's time to become the leader we have all been anticipating.