Observations From the Cheap Seats

Lombardi's Way Observations From the Cheap Seats

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5K For Flacco?

He’s calm. He’s confident. He’s ballin’ and if the quarter pole of the season is an indication of things to come, Joe Flacco will throw for over 5,000 yards during the 2018 campaign. Through 4 games Flacco has racked up 1,252 passing yards to go with 8 TDs, 2 INTs and a passer rating of 96.9.

That said, the only stat that has ever really mattered to Flacco is wins. And if he keeps playing like he has up to now, the wins should pile up.

Some will say that Joe’s performance thus far this season can be credited to the new weapons around him. Some will say that the results are a byproduct of being healthy for the first time in years. The argument could be made that he’s more fundamentally sound this season and credit for that goes to QB coach James Urban. Maybe, as shocking as this may seem, the credit goes to Marty Mornhinweg’s play calling.

Maybe it’s the presence of Lamar Jackson?

More than likely it’s a combination of all the above.

And you know what? The Ravens offense really hasn’t put it all together just yet. The signs are there. The pieces are in place. But the execution and consistency aren’t quite there yet. If that shapes up, look out. The Baltimore Ravens will be dangerous.

“A couple of things happened with Joe Flacco. You go out and draft Lamar Jackson in the first round; that not only lit a spark, it lit a fire under Flacco. He looks like a much different guy, even going back to training camp…The other thing that’s really helped Flacco is what they [the Baltimore Ravens] did in the offseason. They went out and got John Brown. They went out and got Willie Snead. They went out and got Michael Crabtree. That’s an area where they really struggled. They haven’t had the depth and talent at that position in a long time.” ~ Rich Gannon on Joe Flacco’s 2018 Resurgence

Running Game

The Ravens rushing attack has struggled to find consistency but it’s not from a lack of effort. Through the first four games of 2017, Marty Mornhinweg’s offense ran it 114 times. This season through the quarter pole, the Ravens have toted the rock…114 times. Same number of attempts – different results. Last season at this point the ground game produced 509 yards. This season? Three-hundred fifty-six yards.

The problem rests along the offensive front. Alex Lewis and James Hurst grade out among the league’s worst at their respective positions when it comes to run blocking while Matt Skura ranks in the bottom half at center. It’s a small sampling size thus far but you have to wonder if a realignment across the offensive front is in order. Know where your helmet is Zeus, Jr.

Marlon Mans Up!

Nice to see Wink Martindale mark Antonio Brown with Marlon Humphrey. It’s one of the more difficult CB assignments in the NFL, arguably the most difficult. Brown managed 5 catches for 62 yards and a 26-yard score. The TD catch was well-covered but when anyone gives Brown and his battery mate Ben Roethlisberger 6 seconds, bad things happen. The night was a win for Humphrey, particularly in comparison to the last time the two clubs met when Brown hauled in 11 passes for 213 yards.

In a Wink of an Eye

Heading into the 2018 season, one of the major weaknesses the Ravens sought to improve was the defensive play in the second half, particularly the 4th quarter. Through 4 games the Ravens have allowed just 9 second half points and 6 in the fourth quarter. And shockingly, at Heinz Field, they shut out the Steelers tight ends in the second half.

TJ’s Play

Tony Jefferson’s strip of Vance McDonald was an outstanding play that didn’t get the proper attention from the pro-Steelers broadcasting tandem of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. The play also featured a devastating block delivered by C.J. Mosley on McDonald. Somewhere, Chris Conte, who was trucked by McDonald on Monday Night Football, had to be smiling.

Not so Special

Jerry Rosburg can’t be sleeping all that well these days. Outside of the NFL’s best kicker, special teams have struggled. They’ve had a field goal attempt blocked, a punt blocked and nearly had another blocked against the Steelers. The coverage teams are pedestrian, the punt returners have struggled with ball security and the kick returners haven’t shown good judgment when exiting the end zone.

Family Feud

Towards the end of the Sunday Night game in Pittsburgh, it was pretty clear that John Harbaugh didn’t care much for Marty Mornhinweg’s play calling while trying to close out the game. And it was equally as clear that Marty didn’t care for John’s criticisms. Either way, I like it that both have fire in their bellies.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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