The Baltimore Ravens are a team that had a lot of questions surrounding them in 2017, and after a pretty big week one effort against Cincinnati, let’s take a look at how they’ve been answered so far.
Stock up: The running game
It’s no secret the Ravens wanted to run the ball (and be more committed to doing so) this season, and they proved it in week one. Offensive coordinator Marty Morninwheg needs a big time rebound this year, and if he’s going to have one, running the ball to the effect that he did against the Bengals bodes well for him. This tweet from Brett Hollander sums up the beating that Baltimore’s running game cooked up:
#Ravens go 15 runs to 2 passes on a 10 minute drive. A lot of talk about "commitment" to run game in 2017.— Brett Hollander (@BrettHollander) September 10, 2017
Stock down: Offensive communication
The Ravens are typically a pretty penalized team, but it was a tad ridiculous at how poor communication between the offense and the coaches hurt the team. Twice they had to take a timeout to stop a delay of game penalty, and on two other occasions the play clock ran down on them. They’ll need to clean that up in the home opener against Cleveland.
Stock up: The defense
All summer long we’ve heard about how this defensive unit could be potentially historic. They very much looked the part Sunday, racking up several sacks as well as a fumble recovery and four interceptions on Andy Dalton while pitching their first shutout since 2009. They were swarming to the ball and tipping it every chance they got, living up to the billing that they’d be fun to watch. There aren’t a ton of superstars, but this absolutely could be a great team defense.
Stock down: Joe Flacco
It’s tough to truly assess Flacco at this point since he’s still rusty, but the early returns aren’t promising. His one touchdown pass was a beautiful play call and a nice job by getting the ball out quick against the blitz, while his one interception wasn’t entirely his fault. Honestly though? There was something comforting about the way the coaching staff used him in the game. He made a few throws, handed the ball off plenty, and just got out of the way. I recently wrote about how the coaches will need to limit his exposure if the offense is going to be effective, and that’s exactly what they did on Sunday. A certain Irish ESPN personality is probably already dissecting how little he did against the Bengals, but as long as they win games, we shouldn’t worry too much about that.
Stock up: The new guys
The front office was uncharacteristically active in free agency this offseason, and it looks like it may pay off. Jeremy Maclin didn’t do much outside of his one touchdown, but the passing game wasn’t the focus today. Hopefully Danny Woodhead’s injury isn’t serious because he looked absolutely electric in his limited action. Brandon Carr nabbed an interception (I mean, who didn’t, but still) and Tony Jefferson was solid in run support. Austin Howard contributed to a huge day on the ground, and could’ve been a key late pickup for this team, and Patrick Ricard had a nice debut as a two way player. Ozzie’s aggression was clearly huge for this team.
Hopefully we can expect a similar effort from this team every week, as they truly played up to their potential in a lot of different areas. The passing game will need to get it going, starting next week against DeShone Kizer and the frisky Cleveland Browns in the home opener.