PiR: Let’s Stick with Winning Formula!

Street Talk PiR: Let’s Stick with Winning Formula!

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REALITY: The Baltimore Ravens posted their 11th shutout in team history.

Perception: Baltimore’s defense came to play Sunday. Was this one great game, or is this what the season will look like?

The Ravens made it a priority to revamp the defense in the offseason and a lot of fans jumped on board, including me, talking about how good this defense could be. The “national experts” didn’t necessarily get on board, but now they are.

After Sunday’s win, everyone was talking about Baltimore’s dominate D and some are even talking about the 2000 Ravens in the same sentence. I’m not going anywhere near that, but this D could be in for a great season.

REALITY: The Ravens ran the ball 42 times and dropped back to pass just 18 times.

Perception: Everyone is talking about it this week. Did the Ravens turn Joe Flacco into Trent Dilfer? Honestly, I don’t care if they did. Running the ball like they did on Sunday is exactly what every single armchair quarterback in Maryland has been asking for for years!

Were the running backs on fire? Not really. 3.7 yards per carry on 42 tries is not All-Pro numbers, but it’s not about that. It’s about sticking with the ground game, and pounding the football over and over again. The opens up the passing game and allows for quick slants like the one to Jeremy Maclin that went for a score.

Flacco said he wasn’t having fun in the win, after completing just nine passes in 17 attempts for 121 yards (7.1 yards per completion). But this is how the Baltimore Ravens win.

Since drafting Flacco, they have, at times, tried to change from a dominant defense and run game to a pass-first offense, but that doesn’t work with this team. Last year, the Ravens had more passing attempts than any team in the league and where did that get them? Home for the playoffs.

Flacco is a very good quarterback, but he has never been given a great offensive line or receiving group. When he is hurried, he throws off his back foot and he makes terrible decisions. So let’s set him up for success. Pound the ball. Force the defense to stop the run and give Joe a chance to go downfield with a play fake.

The Ravens haven’t been around long, but their reputation is that of a great defense and solid run game. Get back to “Raven Football” and watch Joe and the team have success. The fans have been crying for it for years and maybe, just maybe, the coaches will finally listen.

REALITY: Danny Woodhead and Za’Darius Smith left the game with injuries and did not return.

Perception: Woodhead pulled something in his hamstring, and the team is quiet about his condition since. But NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Tuesday afternoon that Woodhead would be out 4-6 weeks. That means he could miss half the season, which is a disappointment after the way Woodhead looked early in the game.

Woodhead was going to be the perfect fallback option on offense. And he’s good enough to make people miss even on little dump off passes, just like Ray Rice could. Hopefully he is back as the Ravens are making the final stretch run for the playoffs.

Smith left with a knee injury and the team is silent about him too. This would seem to be a big loss for the Ravens as Smith was showing that he could be a real playmaker on defense. But after he went out, the D didn’t lose a step. I guess we will see how deep this team really is.

REALITY: The MMQB moved the Ravens up from 21st to 12th in their Power Poll.

 “Throw in a re-commitment ceremony to the run game (42 runs, 18 dropbacks in Cincinnati)—did you know the Ravens were football’s most pass-heavy team last year, that’s crazy! —and it looked a lot like old-school Ravens football.”

Perception: Sports Illustrated’s MMQB moved the Ravens up 9 slots. CBS Sports moved them up 8 spots. NFL.com moved them up 5 slots. ESPN has the Ravens up 8 places to 14, the highest of any national site.

When you play dominant D, run the ball, and don’t turn it over, it’s hard to argue with that kind of success. Let’s see if they can show us signs of 2000, and do it two weeks in a row.

REALITY: Cleveland comes to Baltimore in Week 2.

Perception: The Ravens have dominated this regular season series, winning 27 of 36 games, including the last three. From 2008-2013, the Ravens won 11 in a row, and have only lost twice in the last 18 meetings.

The Browns played surprisingly well last week against the Steelers. DeShone Kizer looked good, going 20-30 for 222 yards. The Browns ran the ball 25 times, but only gained 57 yards on the ground.

Dare I say this will be a more competitive game for the Ravens then the Bengals were last week?

If the Ravens stick to their Week 1 game plan of pounding the ball, then this game is over. Ravens win. But if Joe got in the coaches’ heads about letting him open it up and throw it around the field, then you could see the Ravens make a bunch of mistakes and let the Browns hang around for too long.

But I think there was too many positives from last week’s game plan for them to change it. Ravens run and roll over the Browns, 24-6.

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Joe Polek

About Joe Polek

Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. He lived in Maine from 2001-2012, where he met his wife and had two daughters. He now resides in Columbia, SC where he has left TV/Radio and is the South Carolina Marketing Coordinator for Bojangles' Restaurants. Joe is a huge sports fan, but most importantly he lives and breathes Baltimore (and Maryland) sports. He routinely gets back to Baltimore for a Ravens and Orioles game once a year. A couple of his highlights were being at the final game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, and also sitting in left field for “2130”, and “2131” (Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak). Find Joe on Twitter @JoePolek. More from Joe Polek


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