So will the real Baltimore Ravens please stand up? Are they the team that opened the season in dominating fashion against the archrival Steelers or are they more like the team that looked dazed and confused in Jacksonville last Monday night?
Yesterday against the Cardinals in their own crib, they were a little of both while providing little evidence to dispel their burgeoning reputation as a Jekyll & Hyde squad.
THE GOOD: Let’s hope that Joe Flacco provided enough evidence to Cam Cameron to convince him to use the shotgun and no huddle offense more regularly. Looking back on Flacco’s career his best performances seem to take shape when running a no huddle. Unfortunately, the Ravens rarely employee the approach unless they are desperate (see Falcons and Vikings on the road). Flacco is a rhythmic passer and the no huddle obviously helps him to find that rhythm. The up tempo approach also seems to help the offensive front provide adequate time to throw as the no huddle serves up a secondary benefit of wearing down opposing pass rushers. Flacco’s second half QB rating was a solid 94.0…Terrell Suggs was menacing contributing a whopping 13 tackles, 4 of which were for losses, a sack and 2 QB hurries…Paul Kruger chipped in with 2 sacks and 2 QB hurries…Bernard Pollard is a menacing presence when he can play close to the line of scrimmage. He had 5 tackles plus a sack and a QB hurry…Chris Carr’s return provided a boost to the secondary. It was good to see him contributing and getting back in the flow. He’ll be counted on in situational sub packages against the Steelers’ speedy receiving corps…Vonta Leach was a wrecking ball in short yardage and goal line situations.
THE BAD: Joe Flacco’s first half at home against an inferior opponent…Torrey Smith dropping a pass in traffic leading to an easy and potentially devastating interception…The offensive line, particularly the left side. Bryant McKinnie and Andre Gurode looked like they dressed up as zombies for Halloween…Jarret Johnson was unusually weak holding down the edge against the run.
THE UGLY: No matter how you dress it up, losing to a (1-5) team at home by the score of 24-3 U-G-L-Y, for this there is no alibi…Special teams were anything but. The coverage was shoddy, tackling pathetic and the plan of attack suspect. It’s difficult to understand why David Reed insists on coming out of the end zone when he accepts a kick 7+ yards deep particularly when you consider that teams have to run 5 fewer yards to make the tackle. Reed lacked purpose and failed to follow the little blocking provided. Jerry Rosburg’s return teams (both kick and punt) seem to be missing a plan and if there is one it’s either poorly executed or they need a new one. It sort of reminds me of watching 6 year olds playing soccer. Both teams just follow the ball all over the field like honeybees…The penalties (11 for 99 yards) were ridiculous and the Ravens better clean that up before heading into Heinz Field on Sunday night.
THE MEGAN FOX: Sometimes you throw to excellent receivers that aren’t really open because you know that at best they can make a play or at worst they will become an effective defender if the pass is poorly thrown. Anquan Boldin is one of those guys. Boldin was targeted 12 times and hauled in 7 of those Flacco tosses for 145 yards, 80 of them coming on one 88 yard drive to close the deficit to four (24-20) in the third quarter.