The Baltimore Ravens completed their 2009 exhibition season 4-0, by dominating the Atlanta Falcons with their reserves most of the game 20-3. Last time the Ravens went undefeated in pre-season was before the 2000 Super Bowl season.
To many of the fans, this was an incredibly meaningless and boring game. However, to the knowledgable fan, this was as important a game as there was for the team as a whole. While most of the starters were on the sidelines, the reserves were fighting for their NFL careers, hoping to make that one last impression that would convince the team's Front Office that they deserve a spot on the Ravens roster.
The Ravens must cut 22 of their 75 players to get down to the NFL maximum of 53 players by tomorrow afternoon. Almost one-third of this roster will be looking for either new teams or new jobs by late Saturday. Can you imagine the stress and fear going through some of the players on the so-called "bubble?" One moment, they are on the world's stage, being treated like royalty with a big salary, great benefits and teammates and the next moment they are returning to the factories and local supermarkets in their hometowns looking for a full time job that many of them are not even qualified to do.
This is the toughest time of the year for the Front Office personnel. Telling a player that his dream job is being ripped from his heart has to be one depressing deed to complete, much less 22 times in one afternoon. I feel for Head Coach John Harbugh and his staff on the tough decisions, much less the notification of the unlucky players. On the other hand, there will be a few surprises so the fear and disappointment of one player could be muted by the joy and aspirations of another who gets told he did indeed make the squad.
However, that's all happening tomorrow. Today is a time to exalt the efforts that the team made in their victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Our second team offense moved down the field and scored on its first possession against the Falcons' first team defense. Our deeper reserves bullied and pushed the Falcons' reserves all over the field and while it was not exactly pretty nor efficient at times, the final score showed the complete domination on both sides of the ball.
Third string QB John Beck played his most minutes and best of the pre-season, with the time to get into a rhythm, hitting on 16 of 28 passes for 232 yards, two TD's and no interceptions, with a 108.0 QB rating. The running backs did their part and there is going to be a tough decision as it appears that only one out of Jalen Parmale, Cedric Peerman and FB Jason Cook is going to make the squad.
At wide receiver, Justin Harper continues to frustrate both the team and himself, dropping two long balls after getting open on deep routes. At the same time, Eron Riley caught the passes thrown in his direction, a long ball plus a TD reception, but even that might not be enough to secure a spot for him. Little guys Jayson Foster and Yamon Figurs didn't do anything to help their causes either.
At linebacker, there are so many decisions to make and to me theyare all easy as the entire group deserves to stay on the team. That won't happen and while Jameel McClain and Tavares Gooden are locks, Antwan Barnes, Prescott Burgess, Danell Ellerbe, Jason Phillips and William VanDeSteeg are probably fighting for just two remaining spots between them. Since we didn't see the rookie Ellerbe in the game, I am hoping the team retains their rights to him by placing him on Injured Reserve to secure him for next year.
The defensive backs did relatively nothing to change the coaches opinions about their roles on the team. Evan Oglesby had a nice hit but still figures to be a long shot, and Frank Walker was,..well Frank Walker. Two penalties on one play epitomizes his style of play, which is grab and hold and hope the refs don't flag him, which they usually do. For wahtever reason, the team seems to like him but he has done nothing to prove his value to the fans this pre-season.
Once again, another great win despite the meaningless part of pre-season being wins and losses. The coaches now have to seclude themselves in the headquarters to make their final decisions by tomorrow afternoon. Post your thoughts here on what you saw and what you think will happen tomorrow when roster cuts are announced.
Until then, bring on the Kansas City Chiefs!