News and Notes from a Fan Perspective

Street Talk News and Notes from a Fan Perspective

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Exceeding Expectations

I wrote last week that the Baltimore Ravens were entering the 2008 season with more questions than answers.  Well, some of them were answered yesterday – in a resoundingly positive way.  I thought Carson Palmer and his receivers would have a field day.  Didn’t happen.  I thought Cam Cameron would dumb down the play selection to Billick levels to compensate for Joe Flacco’s inexperience.  Didn’t happen.  Except for some anxious moments in the 4th quarter after Ray Rice’s fumble and resulting Bengals touchdown, it was near- perfect opening day.  There were many studs and not many duds.  Here’s what I saw from Section 134.

The Studs

The names Chris McAlister, Le’Ron McClain, the offensive and defensive lines, and Ray Rice come to mind, but after I thought about it the real studs of this game were the offensive and defensive coordinators, Cam Cameron and Rex Ryan.

I’ve never seen such a variety of offensive schemes in a Ravens game – ever. Misdirections, offsets, strange looking formations, no-huddle plays – you name it.  The Bengals defense looked confused and on their heels most of the day.  On one particular play after a very unbalanced formation, I turned to the person sitting next to me and said “When was the last time you saw that?”  Same for the white and black uniforms.  (Answers:  Never and 1996 I think).  McClain and Lorenzo Neal were absolute battering rams.  Flacco was remarkably composed in his first real game.  His passes were crisp and for the most part accurate and he knew when and how to throw the ball away. Some inexcusable drops by the receiving corps prevented Joe from having better numbers.   Bottom line:  All those preseason worries about a vanilla offense dissipated in the 1st quarter.  The Cam Cameron era in

has definitely arrived.

Rex Ryan was in Carson Palmer’s head and the defensive line was in his face all day.  In spite of the absence of Kelly Gregg, the Ravens put good pressure on Palmer and he never really had time to sit back and pick the backfield apart.  Chad Johnson only had one reception and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had three.  The Ravens’ defense beat up the Bengals offensive line, harassing Carson Palmer almost every time he dropped to throw and held the Bengals to a paltry 154 total yards – unheard of numbers for one of the better offenses in the league.  The first team defensive backfield played at full strength for the first time this season and the results were evident.  No hits, no runs, no errors.

The Duds

There’s only one, in my opinion.  Todd Heap had his worst game ever as a Raven.  A near-costly fumble and a couple of dropped passes, one of them a sure TD.  It was uncharacteristic sloppy play from someone who is considered one of the most reliable receivers on the team.  I’m going to chalk this one up to spending most of the preseason nursing a sore calf.  I look for better – much better – from Heap next week in


Bottom Line:

It’s easy to overdose on the Purple Kool-Aid after a game when the Ravens dismantle a division opponent, especially one who has handled them easily over the past couple of years.  There are some areas of concern.  I wasn’t crazy about special teams play but at least they didn’t cost the Ravens any points.  The Ravens need to start throwing some deep balls, if nothing more than to keep the opponent honest.  The Ravens wide-outs need to get some separation downfield to allow Joe Flacco to put that rocket arm to use.  They won’t be playing defenses that are this soft every week. 

However, today the outlook for the 2008 season looks considerably brighter from a fan’s standpoint than it did two weeks ago.
Photo by Sabina Moran

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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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