CRYSTAL BALL: Pondering The Ravens’ Scrimmage

Battle Plans CRYSTAL BALL: Pondering The Ravens’ Scrimmage

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Light impressions from Saturday’s scrimmage between the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins:
  • Jared Gaither looked good. Real good. There were a couple of instances when the former Terrapin was eventually beaten off the edge by a defensive end, but he was still able to extend his arms and push the end past the pocket, allowing the quarterback to step up and get rid of the ball.
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  • Some rookies would not have had the presence of mind to redirect an opponent as Gaither did. The move shows that Gaither understands that he must sustain his block all the way through until the whistle is blown.
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  • The run defense was stout. Granted, the Redskins’ top backs, Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, did not log any attempts, but it was still impressive to see the Baltimore front seven hold their ground as often as they did. The line did a superb job of eating blocks to create gaps for the linebackers to crash through at the line-of-scrimmage. On that note, the green second and third-string backers consistently ran to the football.
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  • It’s easy to forget about a player like Daniel Wilcox given all of the other options in the offense, but he proved on Saturday why he deserves to get his fair share of looks in ‘07. As the Ravens switched to more of a two-back attack, Wilcox was phased out of the offense during the second-half of last season, but his role should be renewed in the team’s use of more one-back sets. Wilcox is simply a terror in the intermediate area, especially when he has space to maneuver after the catch.
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  • On one offensive snap, the team set up in an interesting two-wide, two-tight and one-back alignment in which two tight ends stacked the left side of the line, while one of the receivers motioned from right to left and ran an underneath route as the ball was snapped.
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  • Prior to the snap, one of the tight ends lined up alongside the left tackle, while the other split out further away from the line – but not to a flanker position. As the receiver motioned behind the tight ends, the formation became more of a bunch look on the weak-side.
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  • If this look is employed during the season, it could not only force a defense to shift to cover the overloaded side of the offense, but it could also create a favorable one-on-one match-up for the split out receiver to work with on the strong-side of the field.
Around the NFL
 
If it is indeed true that Anthony “Booger” McFarland is out for the season with a torn ACL, the Indianapolis Colts are in trouble.
The defending Super Bowl champions have already sustained a steady barrage of hits in the off-season, including the loss of Cato June, Dominic Rhodes, Nick Harper and Jason David to free-agency, in addition to the stunning retirement of left tackle Tarik Glenn.
 
McFarland’s loss could be the hardest to overcome. Not only is the two-time Super Bowl champion a vital cog as the three-technique tackle on Tony Dungy’s defensive line, but he is also a vocal leader in the locker room.
 
McFarland is not the dominant player he once was with Tampa Bay, but he is still an effective plug, with the ability to split gaps and stop plays in the backfield. Now the Colts will have to scramble to replace yet another starter on an already suspect defense…
 
In 2010, Curtis Martin, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Jerome Bettis and Willie Roaf will be first-year eligible inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 
This is an impressive group. On the surface, all of these players have a valid case for being first-ballot Hall of Famers.
 
Obviously, they’re not all going to make it in their first years.
 
Sanders is a lock. Faulk is a step ahead of the other backs, and I believe he is a prime first-ballot contender. Aside from being a league MVP and Super Bowl champion, Faulk put of gaudy statistics as both a runner and a receiver. In fact, along with LaDainian Tomlinson, he is probably the best pass-catching tailback in the modern era.
 
Then there is Martin and Bettis, both deserving candidates, but I believe they will have to wait a year or two. Roaf’s resume is undisputed, but linemen are often overlooked. He’ll get in at some point. 

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Dev Panchwagh

About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for Ravens24x7.com since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens’ keys to success against each upcoming opponent.

Dev started modestly as a sports journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the Scouts.com network before joining RSR.  It would be very difficult to find his rare combination of youthfulness, knowledge and insight in all facets of football anywhere else.  Fortunately, Dev brings it here each and every week. 

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