News and Notes from a Fan’s Perspective

Street Talk News and Notes from a Fan’s Perspective

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More Questions Than Answers


 

On the eve of their 2008 opener, the Baltimore Ravens have more questions regarding the makeup of their 2008 roster than answers.  This wasn’t how the Ravens planned it or their fans expected it to be.  Injuries have decimated 1st stringers on both sides of the line.  Against the plans of the staff and the hopes of most of the fans, a rookie quarterback will start on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.  Here’s a list of what worries me.


 

Quarterback


 

Joe Flacco won the job by default – period.  Nobody wants to see this kid start the season but the Ravens have no choice.  This Sunday, Marvin Lewis will throw every blitz package in the book against him.  It will be 8 or 9 in the box to stop the run and double daring Joe to put it up.


 

The much anticipated competition between Troy Smith and Kyle Boller disappeared in blizzard of health problems.  Smith probably won’t be back for a couple of weeks while he works to regain his strength – not to mention the 20 pounds he lost during his illness.  Now it looks like Kyle Boller may have played his last game as a Raven.  The Ravens placed Boller on injured reserve for the rest of year and his contract expires after the season.  I don’t expect him back.  After playing waiver wire bingo for a backup, the Ravens signed Todd Bouman.  Huh?  Who is this guy?  I think that leaves Mark Clayton as the emergency QB.  Terrific.


 

Defensive Line


 

Kelly Gregg’s injury is more serious than the Ravens or most of us thought.  It’s not certain he will play Sunday against the Bengals.  Justin Bannan has a great motor but he’s no Buddy Lee.  While Dwan Edwards is the remaining poster child for the worst Ravens draft in team history (2004), he was coming into his own as a quality backup.  Now he’s lost for the season.  A few bright spots – Terrell Suggs is back in the fold, Trevor Pryce is healthy, and Marques Douglas is a really nice pickup.  Being familiar with Rex Ryan’s schemes, Marques should fit seamlessly into the d-line rotation.  This unit and the linebackers better perform because they will have to carry the unit critiqued next.


 

Defensive Backfield


 

The black hole, the critical “X” factor in the performance of the defense.  Both Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are coming back from injuries and extended layoffs.  Chris hasn’t taken a snap all preseason.  Word is that his knee swells every time he works out.  Ed Reed is out indefinitely with a nerve condition.  Fabian Washington and Derrick Martin are suspended for the first game.  This Sunday, the backfield may have only one starter on the field from last season – Dawan Landry.  As in the Vikings game, I expect the Bengals to visit this unit early and often.  If the front seven doesn’t get any pressure on Carson Palmer, it will be a long, long day.


 

Offensive Line


 

The unit in young and athletic, but injuries to Jared Gaither and Adam Terry have set back their progression as a unit.  The line has the potential to be very good, but it has to stay healthy to gain cohesiveness and experience.  I hope Flacco can sprint out like Troy Smith; with our two tackles he may be running for his life.


 

Theatre of the Absurd


 

This chapter explores ESPN’s highly unscientific NFL Fan Base Rating post late last week.  5 self described “



Bristol
muckety-mucks,” who evidently have nothing better to do, rated the fans of all 32 teams based on seven factors including loyalty, stadium factor, and tailgating.  They placed Ravens fans as the 17th best in the NFL.  Are we the best? No (At least not yet).  But why are we ranked behind 3 fan bases that have significant fewer sellouts than the Ravens?  The fact that we have teams to the south (Skins) and north (Eagles) has absolutely nothing to do with the passion of our fan base.  Just goes to show what the World Wide Leader will do to drum up web hits on a slow news day.


 

Oh yeah, I did a quick scan of 7 major NFL sport web sites today.  The average Power Ranking for the Ravens is 27 and 2 sites rated the Ravens 30th and 31st.  Ouch!  But don’t they say the truth hurts?  Maybe it’s not so absurd.


 

Anyway…..


 

Prediction


 

The Ravens will have to play ball possession to keep the ball out of Carson Palmer’s hands.  The offensive line will really have to step it up and Ray Rice will need to have a big day.  Due to Flacco’s inexperience, Cam Cameron will dumb down the play book.  The Ravens will need pressure on Palmer, ball possession to eat up the clock, and some timely turnovers.  With our secondary, I don’t see it happening.


 

Bengals 27, Ravens 17.

 

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Fran "The Fan" Vojik

About Fran "The Fan" Vojik

Fran Vojik has been a contributor to the Ravens24X7 site since 2005, first as a regular on the “Letters to T.L.” page, then as the author of the Fran the Fan column. A huge Orioles and Ravens fan, he defines the term “homer.” A former season ticket holder of the Baltimore Colts, he now roots on the Ravens from his corner end zone seat in M&T Bank Stadium. His work makes him a regular traveler to various MLB and NFL cities and he’s watched both the Birds and Purple and Black in a variety of away stadiums. He brings a passionate and humorous perspective to the world of professional sports. Born in Highlandtown, and a graduate of Calvert Hall College and the University of Maryland, he lives on Furnace Creek in northern Anne Arundel County. He and his girlfriend, Sandy, have recently renovated his Man Cave, known as the “The Sports Palace,” which contains many mementos from the Colts, Ravens, and Orioles. On days the Ravens play at home, Fran can usually be found tailgating at the Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Hall Local 734 , supporting the organization’s Widow’s and Orphan’s fund.

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