Well folks, if this were a report card being brought home to your parents, you’d probably be grounded for the rest of the school year. I don’t really know what to say other than that was probably one of the more ugly performances I have personally witnessed in quite some time. The worst part is now the rest of the AFC North can go into games against Baltimore knowing that they can be beat…and they can be beat badly.
NFL – F.
My first grade goes to the NFL because not only should the game have been in Baltimore to begin with, but also having a concert in the Inner Harbor just rubbed even more salt into the wound. To make matters worse, lightning delays kept the game from starting for nearly another 40 minutes.
Hey NFL, guess where the skies were clear? BALTIMORE.
I’m not one to go off on conspiracies and make no mistake about it, the Ravens got whooped, but it really does seem like the NFL was going out of their way to stack the deck in the favor of their darling child Peyton Manning.
Coaching staff – F.
My second grade goes to the coaching staff of Baltimore. As I understand it, John Harbaugh said they never got a chance to review the pivotal play where Wes Welker trapped a Manning pass on the turf. The play came on a critical 3rd down and led to a Denver touchdown.
Talk about a momentum shifter!
I will give credit to Manning for having the wherewithal to get everyone back to the line of scrimmage where he could run another play before the incomplete pass was noticed by Harbaugh. Touché Manning, touché. If what Harbaugh says is true and they legitimately did not know that the pass was incomplete, then I can’t fault him too much.
However, I will completely lay this loss at the feet of Dean Pees, Jerry Rosburg and Jim Caldwell.
Hey Dean, 49 points? Seven passing touchdowns? REALLY?
I know Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clady are two of the better offensive linemen in the league, but where was the consistent pass rush? The lack of a pass rush in the second half and the obvious miscommunication issues in the secondary allowed Peyton to just absolutely TORCH the defense. It was evident to me that the defense gave up towards the end of the game.
Jerry, you need to teach Brynden Trawick to play with his head on a swivel. Additionally, a blocked punt? A blocked punt may be one of the more rare plays in the NFL. Other than Justin Tucker, special teams was a hot mess.
Finally, Jim…Jim…Jim…what are you going to do man? I can understand the fact that there were a dozen dropped passes out there on the field and you only had four receivers to work with (three after Jacoby Jones was a victim of friendly fire), but some of this is still on you.
The play that really grinds my gears the most though was on a crucial 3rd-and-short and you call a Ray Rice dive/ISO play right into the middle of their defense, which had been stuffing the run all day. Furthermore, play action doesn’t work when the running game isn’t working! Sit Joe Flacco in the gun and let him air it out when it gets to that point.
The offense, as bad as it was, wasn’t without hope because a lot of this stuff can be fixed.
Like I’ve been saying for weeks: This offense will need time to gel. 27 points should be enough to win games if the defense is doing their jobs. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t do their jobs.
It was nice to see Jacoby, Marlon Brown and Torrey Smith clicking with Flacco. Other than Torrey and a few plays to Marlon during the pre-season, Flacco just never seemed to be on the same page as the rest of the receivers. That was to be expected, but it was nice to see Marlon out there making plays against a pretty good Denver secondary.
That said, the running game needs to get better in a hurry because Flacco should not be throwing the ball 60 or more times in a game. I think Michael Oher going down had a lot to do with that in the second half, but the holes weren’t there at all for Rice and Pierce even before he left. After his departure, replacement rookie Ricky Wagner got beat like a drum by Shaun Phillips.
Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson accounted for something like eight or nine dropped passes by my count. I’m willing to give Dickson a little bit of a break because this was his first game back in almost a month, but he had issues with dropping catchable passes last year and the year before. That is part of the reason why Pitta supplanted him as the starting TE. I know Dickson is athletic and he got hit a lot, but someone needs to remind him that he is 6’4” 255lbs and not 5’10” 185lbs.
Regarding Clark…where do I start? He dropped passes that hit him IN THE HANDS, one that would have gone for a touchdown to put the Ravens up 21-14 at the half. I’m really hoping that Clark can figure this out because he has never been known as a pass-dropper. At this rate, he’s quickly getting there. From my understanding, he dropped something like a dozen passes last year with Tampa Bay. This could be an issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ozzie were looking at other TE options moving forward because not having one is going to absolutely kill the Ravens this year.
At least Torrey, Stokley and Marlon Brown were getting open though. One thing that puzzled me was this: if the rotation of receivers was down to three and both Dickson and Clark were having issues with dropping passes, why wasn’t Kyle Juszczyk ever given a chance to go out there? I mean, one of his biggest assets as a player is having good hands and decent speed for his size.
Defense: F- – -.
Defensively, I just can’t wrap my head around what happened out there. They traded Anquan Boldin and then talked about how Boldin’s salary savings helped them land Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, Michael Huff and Elvis Dumervil. Well, where the heck were those guys last night?
Huff got benched for Matt Elam midway through the game because he doesn’t understand how to cover a tight end on a seam pattern, and other than a few pressures, Dumervil was relatively silent.
Ngata and Canty both played well, Suggs had a good game, and all things considered I thought Josh Bynes and Daryl Smith played decently. Daryl Smith did bite on a double-move by Julius Thomas for one of his TD receptions though.
Pernell McPhee and Courtney Upshaw also had decent moments. All told, the Broncos weren’t really successful running the ball consistently the entire game. Montee Ball had the Broncos’ largest gain on the ground with a nine-yard scamper, but other than that the Ravens did a decent job holding Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno in check (both had long runs of seven yards).
The secondary, though, is where I’m just baffled. Lardarius Webb played well and it was great to see him out there again. James Ihedigbo was “so-so”. Like Bernard Pollard before him, Ihedigbo was looking for the big hit. Sometimes it worked – like on Denver’s first play where he separated Thomas from the ball – and sometimes it didn’t, and resulted in missed tackles.
Elam got his first experience, but was overshadowed by how poorly Huff and Corey Graham played.
Speaking of which, what in the world happened to Graham?! He was a playoff hero last year, but man he was just absolutely throttled by Peyton and his receivers. They went after Graham hard with Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Graham must have been having an off night because I was reminded of Frank Walker or Fabian Washington out there. Sheesh!
I know most will disagree, but considering the criticism Jimmy Smith took during the preseason, I thought he held his own against Thomas and Decker. Other than the bone-headed personal foul penalty and getting beat by Andre Caldwell (I’m still not sure if there was supposed to be safety help there), I thought Jimmy did decently.
The silver lining in last night’s putrid outing is that they were playing arguably the best team in the NFL in their stadium. The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. As fans, it is important that we all keep that in mind. There are a lot of new faces and young players on this team trying to figure it all out. I completely anticipate this team using this as a learning experience from which to grow and get better.