FRAN THE FAN: Taking them one game at a time

Street Talk FRAN THE FAN: Taking them one game at a time

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The Ravens took care of business last Sunday by drubbing the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank.  Talk about a balanced attack! 

Baltimore
gained 350 yards on offense, almost evenly divided between rushing and passing yards.  A 36 minute time-of-possession advantage, a pressing defense, the now-standard Raider ineptitude, and an inventive offensive game plan ensured that

Oakland
would never get into the game.  It was a game we had to win.  One winnable game down, and two winnable games to go.


 

This Sunday the Ravens visit Cleveland Brown Stadium this Sunday for a rematch with what looks to be an improving team.  After a disastrous start, the Browns are now 3-4 after whipping the Jaguars at

Jacksonville
.  Maybe some of you saw it as it was a 4:15 game broadcast on a

Washington
channel.  They hardly looked like the inept “Clowns” who visited M&T Bank back in September. 


 

The Browns have had plenty of drama revolving around the play of Derek Anderson and the Kellen Winslow injury.  But two weeks ago they proved their mettle by being the only team so far this year to beat the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. And they did it handily.  The Giant, Redskin and Jaguar games should put every one of their opponents on notice.  Here are my Keys to the Game on Sunday.


 

·         Get Pressure on Derek Anderson


 

Every time the Browns have had offensive success,

Anderson
has had plenty of time find his receivers. With a banged up secondary, the Ravens cannot allow that to happen on Sunday.  Rex Ryan should let his “Dogs of War” loose on

Anderson
early and often.  Just like the September game.  Picks and sacks should surely follow.


 

·         Get Todd Heap Involved


 

And not as a blocker!  Our only deep passing threat went on the I.R. as the Ravens announced on Wednesday that Demetrius Williams is out for the season.  You just can’t depend on Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton to go long.  We need somebody to semi-stretch the field.  Unfortunately, Heap has garnered a reputation around the league as a brittle and underperforming tight end.  It’s time to change that perception as Cam Cameron needs to unleash Heap into the biggest weakness of the Brown defense, that underperforming secondary.


 

·         No Stupid Penalties


 

In spite of the impressive yardage the Ravens gained last week, we had several sizable gains negated by holding calls and procedure penalties.  We can’t get away with that on a weekly basis. 


 

·         Special Teams Keep It Up


 

The Ravens tightened up their kick coverage and they seem to have found more than suitable replacements for Yamon Figurs in Ray Rice (kick offs) and Jim Leonard (punt returns).  Matt Stover has to keep hitting ‘em and Sam Koch has to keep banging ‘em.


 

·         More of the Suggs Offense


 

You have to like Cameron’s inventiveness.  The Ravens offense has become not only delightfully unpredictable but very entertaining.  Haloti Ngata as tight end on the goal line offense was nice touch and he should negate the massive Shawn Rogers on similar plays this Sunday.  Only one thing……Troy Smith and Joe Flacco on the field together was cool. This time, how about letting Smith go out for the pass and run the risk of getting nailed by an enraged, out of position linebacker?


 

News and Rants


 

·         It didn’t take Mike Singletary long to imprint his coaching style on the 49ers and put his foot squarely up the rear of the underachieving Vernon Davis.  I have to believe that was a reaction to behavior that had been going on for some time, something that Mike Nolan couldn’t change or chose to ignore.  But not Singletary.  That meltdown was almost in Jim Mora or Dennis Green territory.  All he needed was a good catch phrase and Mike would have been a fixture on Coors Light commercials in a couple of years.


 

·         By now most of the fans have at least heard about the Ed Reed interview with Jerry Coleman and Mike Preston on AM 1370.  Pretty revealing; Not the usual pabulum you get from a player.  Coleman is developing the rep as a reporter who’s not afraid to ask the tough questions and seems to be able to draw out his interviewees.  He certainly did with Reed.


 

Among other things, Ed said John Harbaugh mishandled the Chris McAlister situation and that the players haven’t totally bought into Harbaugh, indicating that the rookie head coach “might have to make some adjustments in his approach.” 


 

How’s that for a sense of entitlement, Ravens fans?  Somehow, I’m not surprised.


 

Much earlier this year, after Harbaugh and his staff were hired, I wrote a column for the site titled In Praise of Brian.  The exact wording escapes me, but I wrote that the Ravens veterans spent most of 2007 throwing Billick under the bus.  I penned that Billick always, always had their back, and this is how they returned the favor.  I said I hoped they were happy.  Be careful what you wish for, I wrote.


 

Well, what goes around, comes around.  I know one thing; McAlister won’t win this battle with Harbaugh, neither will Ed Reed, or any vet that thinks Harbaugh is going to change to suit them.  OK, OK, John is a rookie too and probably needs some maturing as a head coach, but he was brought in to change the culture of this team.  And he will make it happen.


 

Prediction


 

The Ravens won’t overlook the Browns in their home crib.  But I don’t see the Ravens winning by 3+ possessions this week, either. 

Cleveland
is too tough in their Pound and have bounced the Ravens in 3 visits out of the last 4 .


 

Swearing off predictions of decisive Ravens victories since the Indy debacle, I pick the Ravens 23-20. 
 
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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