RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Secondary moving forward after rough game

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Secondary moving forward after rough game

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OWINGS MILLS – Victimized by the San Diego Chargers’ explosive offense, the Baltimore Ravens’ defense has no intentions of dwelling on that setback or failing to learn from what transpired.

During the 34-14 loss Sunday night, the Ravens’ secondary was dissected by quarterback Philip Rivers as he repeatedly targeted rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith and first-year starting cornerback Cary Williams.

“It’s behind us,” Williams said. “We’ve got to move on. Last week was last week. As a corner, you’ve got to have a short memory. We let that stuff go and just go ahead and move on to the next opponent. That’s what we’re doing this week.”

After being beaten on double-moves as wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson combined for eight receptions for 180 yards and one touchdown, Williams does expect to see similar patterns going forward.

 “Yeah, wouldn’t you?” he said. “It’s on tape. Yeah, I expect it. You just try to adjust to it as best as possible. We can just call it what it is, they beat us. They outplayed us, plain and simple.

“All we can do is put that behind us and move on and play our game. We can’t dwell on what happened in the past. We can’t allow how good we are to affect our tomorrows.”

The Ravens allowed three rushing touchdowns, and 270 yards to Rivers as he registered a 127.1 quarterback rating.

The Chargers piled up 415 yards of total offense, 23 first downs and averaged 6.9 yards per offensive play on 60 snaps.

“As you would expect, disappointed,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “[Terrell Suggs] looks up at the scoreboard and he sees 31-7, and he says, ‘Are we this bad?’ You know, they’re just not used to that.

“It was pretty somber. It’s the NFL, and it can be very humbling. We say, never too high, never too low. You’ve got to get over it and move on.”

Rivers kept throwing passes in the direction of Smith, the Ravens’ first-round draft pick from Colorado.

Smith was starting in place of Lardarius Webb, the Ravens’ top cornerback. Webb was limited to a handful of snaps in nickel packages due to a left toe injury.

What did Smith learn from the rough outing?

“No. 1 that they’re going to go after rookies,” Pagano said. “No. 2, you’ve got to have amnesia to play that spot. It’s physically one of the most demanding positions to play on the field, especially when you’re playing against that caliber of a quarterback and wide receiver.

“Until you put the fire out, they’re going to keep coming, and they’re going to keep trying you and keep trying you until you put the fire out and start making some plays. They went after him early. They went after both guys. The great thing about Jimmy is he’s kind of unflappable that way and pretty calm. He looked at what he needed to correct from a technique standpoint, so we move on from there.”

PAGANO STOCK: In general, Pagano has drawn praise for revitalizing the Ravens’ defense as the replacement for Greg Mattison.

The Ravens are ranked third in total defense, second in rushing defense and fifth in passing defense.

And they rank first in the NFL with 45 sacks.

“When you’re a coach who played the game before, you definitely understand the mentality of the game,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “I love playing for coach. I have a ton of respect for the dude.

“He definitely gave us our swagger back. He’s a very good chess player. You got to win the chess match. You got to be a strategist. Chuck’s been doing a good job.”

Pagano is beginning to have his name mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate even though he’s unlikely to land a job during this hiring cycle.

"No, not at this point," Pagano said when asked if he’s thinking about becoming a head coach. “I remember going all the way back to when I was a kid growing up, my dad being a football coach. He asked the same question of all the assistants that he ever hired, ‘Is your goal to be a head football coach?’

“He always said if somebody had answered him, ‘Not really. I’m OK just being a position coach,’ then I don’t think he really wanted him on his staff because he wanted ambitious guys. I think if you ask anybody they’d say, ‘Yeah, that would be something you always work for and towards.’ My focus and our focus is on the Cleveland Browns, period.”

The Ravens also are tied for third in points allowed, surrendering an average of 16.9 points per contest.

“Chuck has a leadership about him,” defensive end Paul Kruger said. “He’s humble but he also knows when to take the reins and take charge. He doesn’t try to dominate you in every meeting.

“He’s just a coach that knows exactly how players are and what direction they need. He’s a hell of a coach and I really think he’ll be a head coach one day.”

All of the previous defensive coordinators in Baltimore went on to become head coaches, including Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan and Rex Ryan as well as two linebackers coaches in Mike Smith and Jack Del Rio.

At this point, Pagano is content with his current job.

“A dream come true," he said. “If you ask anyone given this opportunity, they’d tell you the same thing. We’ve got great assistant coaches, great guys to work with, great players, great leadership, great organization. I was just in the right place at the right time. I’m very fortunate.

“Again, it’s been more highs than lows and it’s been exciting watching these guys play. It’s been a great experience to this point but until we finish this thing. Our goal is to get to Indy and be the No. 1 defense in the league. If we don’t accomplish that, it will be a disappointing year as far as I’m concerned.”

SEVEN IN THE LEAD: Seven Ravens lead the Pro Bowl balloting for the AFC squad voted on by fans.

That includes offensive tackle Michael Oher, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, fullback Vonta Leach, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, free safety Ed Reed, special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo and middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

Participating fans count toward a third of the vote with players and coaches determining the other two-thirds.

Running back Ray Rice ranks third behind Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew.

The Pro Bowl squad will be announced at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

BOLDIN MISSES PRACTICE Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin didn’t practice Wednesday due to a previously undisclosed knee injury.

The injury isn’t believed to be serious.

Kicker Billy Cundiff (left calf) didn’t practice as well as defensive end Cory Redding (ankle). Cundiff is expected to sit out this week with Shayne Graham signed to handle the kicking duties.

Redding predicted he will definitely play.

Several Browns didn’t practice, including: cornerback Joe Haden (thigh), linebacker Ben Haden (concussion), wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (foot), quarterback Colt McCoy (concussion), wide receiver Jordan Norwood (concussion), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (hand/calf) and safety T.J. Ward (foot).

The following players were limited: wide receiver Joshua Cribbs (groin), fullback Owen Marecic (concussion, ankle), offensive tackle Tony Pashos (ankle) and safety Usama Young (shoulder).

And running back Montario Hardesty (calf), offensive guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and defensive lineman Brian Schaefering all participated fully.

LEWIS PRAISED: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis displayed some signs of rust during the Ravens’ loss to the Chargers, remaining a step behind running back Ryan Mathews most of night as he rushed for two touchdowns.

However, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year still led the defense with 10 tackles.

 “Excellent, he didn’t miss a beat,” Pagano said. “I know he had a huge impact like he always does. He didn’t miss a beat.”

QUICK HITS: Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was noncommittal on whether David Reed will regain the primary kickoff returner job following his 47-yard return against the Chargers. Reed was replaced by Tom Zbikowski after fumbling twice against the Seattle Seahawks. “He did a very good job on that return,” Rosburg said of Reed’s return in San Diego. “I am really pleased with the progress he has made with his ball security, and he demonstrated that the other night on that one return. Wilbert Montgomery has done a great job with him, and even on the sideline they were talking through it. He demonstrated that he is learning. He is still one of our kickoff returners, and so is Tom Zbikowski. Then, we will make a decision on who is going to start the game.” … Rosburg made no indication whether cornerback Lardarius Webb will return punts as he comes off his toe injury. Chris Carr would take his place if he can’t go. The Chargers never punted Sunday night, so the Ravens didn’t have to reveal who their replacement for Webb would have been. “We have a plan,” Rosburg said. “We had a plan the other night, too. It just didn’t display itself, so you never got a chance to see our plan. But we do have a plan.” … The Ravens allowed seven sacks against the Chargers, including four to former Baltimore outside linebacker Antwan Barnes. Barnes was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week at the Ravens’ expense. Quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked five times with rookie Tyrod Taylor sacked twice at the end of the game. “There was a handful there that we have to get corrected,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “ It was a collective thing. It wasn’t the offensive line, it wasn’t Joe. Pass protection is about separation, it’s about route design, it’s about protectors, it’s about a whole series of things. So, everybody can help improve that. We knew those guys were good. Obviously, we didn’t get the job done.”However, Suggs and coach John Harbaugh both opined that Flacco held the football too long. Cameron defended Flacco, though. “Going back to just what I said, it was a collective thing,” Cameron said. “Every play kind of had its own issues, but the ball was coming out. If you look, there were some things that didn’t get done. We’re going to learn from those things. It’s exactly what I alluded to earlier. Each play was a little bit different.”


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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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