On Thursday, we witnessed the Philadelphia Eagles manhandle their in-state rivals (and Baltimore's divisional foes) in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tonight, the Ravens will look to avenge the Steelers' humiliation by trumping the NFC East's "The Project" under former Bengals Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden.
The Ravens were 4-2 against Jay Gruden when he was Cincinnati's offensive coordinator. Familiar with their scheme, the Ravens will look to get some valuable experience tonight against his new team. Here are four things to watch for:
I know, I know, I know: the Ravens' top three cornerbacks — Jimmy Smith (chest bruise), Lardarius Webb (lower back), Asa Jackson (sprained ankle) — are on the sidelines tonight. Are the backups Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks doomed? Guarding revered veterans Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss, alongside fresh acquisitions DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts is overwhelming for any secondary that starts in the League, even more so for a second-string unit. The Ravens' front-seven will be busy tracking down quarterback Robert Griffin III and cutting off the edges of and plugging in the holes created for the multidimensional ball carriers that stand behind him.
Rookies Deji Olatoye and Sammy Seamster have a future-altering shot to take tonight, and if they (defensive backs) take a deep breath and stay composed, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will have less sleepless nights. Do it for Pees.
HC Harbaugh: "Careers last different lengths of time. Play with a light heart, have fun, do your best, let the chips fall where they may."
— Baltimore Beatdown (@BMoreBeatdown) August 21, 2014
Offensive linemen Jah Reid and Will Rackley will miss tonight's action. Rookie Brett Van Sloten (sprained medial collateral ligament) will sit next to them on the bench. Offensive tackle David Mims, who has two weeks to win a roster spot, will see more snaps this evening. The interior O-line is shaky at right tackle, still, as Ricky Wagner is starting only because the team didn't address the need in this year's draft. Wagner performed exceptionally well in the first preseason game against the 49ers and lived up to his "solid" hype last week against Dallas. Watch him tonight against another tough challenge. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are ecstatic as they will welcome Jason Hatcher back to the Redskins lineup. #OML
Move over GQ, Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's offense is sharp enough to feature in next month's issue. Tonight, look for the adjustments Kubiak makes as the ailing offensive line tries to keep Flacco upright. How much more of the play-action will he call? Will Flacco and the other quarterbacks roll out of the pocket more? Will the OC stay true to the scheme centered around a running force? Watch how fluid the offense's engine runs and moves the unit down the field against an inexperienced Redskins secondary.
Gunners in the punt coverage are usually the best tacklers on the team. They also have to be physical to beat their man and their burners must go at full speed to either (A) chase down the punt returner, or (B) the ball before it lands in the end zone (which results in a touchback). Young players try to sneak into the 53-man roster by impressing their coaches with tenacious special teams play, but wait, is that Marlon Brown streaking down the sidelines?