The Ravens at the Quarter Pole

Haloti Ngata v Browns

It’s hard to believe that we are already at the quarter pole of the Ravens 2012 season. Four games in 18 days certainly helps to get you there faster but that said, it seems like only yesterday when we were introduced to the Ravens fast break, high octane, no huddle offense and here we are, waiting on Week 5.

This weekend the Ravens get a well-deserved quasi-bye-week. They will get away like a Southwest TV ad, decompress a bit and get ready to tackle the next quarter of the season. Until then, let’s revisit what we’ve learned so far…

OFFENSE

Heading into the 2012 campaign the questions surrounding Cam Cameron’s unit had a common theme – the offensive line. Could they protect Joe Flacco? Can Matt Birk hold up for a full season? How will the Ravens adjust after the loss of Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs?

At this point O-Line coach Andy Moeller’s quarter grades have to read “Incomplete.” The offensive front is clearly a work in progress that benefits greatly from the team’s no huddle approach.

And speaking of the no huddle, it is quite obvious that the approach fits Joe Flacco’s game to a tee! After four games the Ravens are among the offensive leaders in: Overall offense (4); Points per game (4); Yards per game (3); Rushing yards per game (11); Average yards per rush attempt (7).

Flacco is in command, he’s distributing the ball to the most talented group of skill position players Ozzie Newsome has ever assembled and he’s more rhythmic. The fifth-year signal caller’s challenge will be to maintain that rhythm on the road. He didn’t during his only road contest so far in Philadelphia. Three of the next four games will be played away from the comfy confines of M&T Bank Stadium.

DEFENSE

Without question the biggest challenge for defensive coordinator Dean Pees heading into the season was and still is how to account for the losses of Terrell Suggs (Achilles injury) and Jarret Johnson (free agency). After four games those answers have not been addressed and if you want proof, look to the numbers. They don’t lie.

Also working against Pees is the loss of Cory Redding who provided quality snaps consistently throughout the 2011 season. This year the Ravens thought that newcomer Ryan McBean might assume those supportive reins from Redding but he went down during the preseason with a season-ending ankle injury.

Seemingly with those losses the Ravens have lost their defensive identity and if anything (and unfortunately) they are far closer to the passive Greg Mattison style than they are the aggressive, no holds barred approach of Chuck Pagano. Paul Kruger sheds blocks like he’s wearing a Velcro jersey; the interior linebackers are too far downfield in run support and they cover the intermediate zones rather poorly. Terrence Cody has to be considered a big disappointment while Maake Kemoeatu in his second tour of duty with the team has been largely MIA.

Corners Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith have struggled and the fact that a No. 1 pick can’t push the struggling Williams from the starting line-up suggests that the former Colorado Buffalo is on the slow track in his development. Many questioned his character coming out of Colorado and while that hasn’t been an issue, given his vast physical skills, you have to question his commitment.

Add it all up and it’s no surprise that Pees’ boys are the 28th ranked defense overall, in large part because they no longer strike fear in the hearts of quarterbacks who drop back on average 41 times per game yet go down only twice per contest.

On the plus side Haloti Ngata has been a beast; Lardarius Webb is playing like a man trying to earn his next contract instead of one who just cashed in on a big pay day; Ed Reed has turned it up a few notches and apparently he IS playing for his next contract; sidekick Bernard Pollard is a perfect fit for the team and has picked up where he left off in ’11; Courtney Upshaw after a slow start is coming on strong; while UDFA Albert McClellan has been a pleasant surprise.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Save a 47-yard miss in the rain against the Browns on Thursday night, Justin Tucker has been outstanding. He’s 8 of 9 in FGA’s, 4 of 5 from 40+ and he’s connected on both of his 50+ yard attempts, the longest of which was from 56 out. He also leads the NFL in touchbacks.

Deonte Thompson has shown some promise as a kick returner although indecisiveness haunted him against the Browns. He’s averaged 25.9 yards, good for 16th best in the league. Sam Koch has had an off year averaging only 36.6 net yards, a surprising rank of 23. Corey Graham, Sean Considine and Brendon Ayanbadejo have all been solid, leading the way to the team’s kick coverage effectiveness – 20.4 yards on average, 9th best in the league.

OUTLOOK AND Q2 PREDICTIONS

The Ravens came through the first quarter in an ideal spot, first in the division, undefeated in the AFCN and 3-0 in the conference. They held serve at home winning all three and they were able to buy time to allow some of the young defenders to develop while being carried by the offense. At this time it looks like it will have to be more of the same during the second quarter of the season, after which Terrell Suggs could be back on the field. Perhaps then the defense can hold its weight.

  • Predictions
    • October 7 @ Kansas City: Ravens 31, Chiefs 27
    • October 14 v. Dallas: Ravens 23, Cowboys 20
    • October 21 @ Houston: Texans 34, Ravens 24
    • October 28: BYE
    • November 4 @ Cleveland: Ravens 27, Browns 17
This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Lombardi's Way by Tony Lombardi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

5 Raves on “The Ravens at the Quarter Pole

  1. richieG on said:

    Hey TL,
    Like the “new” site, though the RSR moniker is kinda corporate.
    The Raves are in a very good spot at 3-1; however, I think their deficiencies will eventually catch up with them. Using my direcTV Sun-ticket, I have watched the dominating defences dominate by applying pressure with only 3-4 D-linemen – in a pass-all-day NFL, it is imperative to pressureANDcover: that is done w/intense pressure from AS FEW AS possible! The Raves get no consistent/persistent push from anyone except Ngata…and their “exotic” blitzes have generally been “hot-read”, OR blocked, into ineffectiveness. Maybe Suggs’ return (if) will change that. I believe Oz needs to re-evaluate his criterion for selecting D-linemen.
    Re the O-line, don’t think Thur-nite was an aberration (even though Cle seems to be a on-the-rise, hard-nosed D)…Oher played like he’s anxious to return to RT and the entire unit allowed Flacco to be harrassed all night…forcing him to back-foot a lot of throws. AND, speaking of the O-line, how do you think BenGrubbs is liking NO??!!?
    I’ve been saying Cody & J Smith are heading towards the “bust” column (joining Kruger)…glad someone else is entertaining the same thought.
    RichieG in Dallas

  2. Josh on said:

    It looks like the schedule will continue to be a challenge, considering we’ll be on the road so much. But, as Gary Williams once said, “They have to play us, too.” I think we can beat KC and I have a bet with a buddy of mine that we will take care of business against Dallas. Houston scares me and Cleveland should be a ‘W’. Here’s hoping the defense tightens up!

  3. Mike in Grasonville on said:

    Tony, I pretty much summed up the team, defense especially, the same way you have. I will say that Kruger has had his good moments, and in taking on a new role I think he will get better as the season progresses.

    Pollard has been nothing short of amazing, and I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t gone down in the Eagles game the Ravens may well have come out on top. He was creating havoc in that game until the injury occured.

    I think that Pees is cut from the same cloth as Mattison for the most part, and doesn’t have that killer instinct that Pagano brought. It will have to be up to the players to change his philosophy on how and when to be aggressive. I can see Ray knocking on his door any day now.

    I’m not going to agree with you on the outcome of the Texans game just yet. By the time Week 7 rolls around I think many of the problems facing this team will have been worked out, at least those that can be, and missed assignments will be held to a minimum. Let’s hope so anyway.

    On another topic, who was responsible for having to change the name of your web site? If I remember correctly you had changed it awhile back from Ravens 24×7, to Football 24×7, then back to Ravens24x7 again. Is it the team, or the league that has a problem with the name? (I’m guessing the league).

  4. Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

    Hey guys, thanks for the comments…

    As for the name change, it was a struggle and let’s just say that it wasn’t an exercise we chose to take on. The change was forced by the Ravens as part of an effort to protect their trademark.

    What name might you have picked?

    • Mike in Grasonville on said:

      Hell,you have been promoting their trademark forever. And doing an ace job of it as well. I would have thought they would have cut you some slack on that matter, but obviously not.
      As for another name the only thing I can come up with at the moment might be Baltimore Football 24×7. Though they might have a peoblem with that as well, who knows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

Ravens at Browns: Looking Away From The Ball

The Ravens have won 11 of their 12 contests against the Browns during the John Harbaugh era by an average score of 24-13. Oftentimes, particularly in Cleveland, the games have been closely fought batt...read more

CRAB BAG: Ravens Look for Revenge in Dawg Pound

Just when we thought we could put all of this season's off-field ugliness behind us and finally start to focus on football, ESPN fanned the flames of controversy right as the coals seemed ready to die...read more

ESPN on a Ravens Witch-hunt?

Roger Goodell’s press conference on Friday to address Ray Rice's Elevator-gate and domestic violence boiled down to this: Random media guy: Roger what do you have to say for yourself? Goodell:...read more

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens vs. Browns (Round 1)

Offense 1. Control the Edges The rush end rotation of Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, and Jabaal Sheard were dominant against the New Orleans offensive tackles last week. Kruger in particular had h...read more

Ravens @ Browns Friday Injury Report & Game Status

GAME STATUS   RAVENS Doubtful: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee) Questionable: RB Bernard Pierce (thigh) Probable: QB Joe Flacco (illness); CB Asa Jackson (concussion); CB Lardarius Webb (back...read more

View More