Would I have loved it if we beat Denver on opening night? Of course I would! But we went up against a team that was highly motivated to beat us, and in front of their home crowd. That – along with our roster makeover – was a big reason as to why the Ravens were almost 9 point underdogs.
I know that there were some low points, some negatives that we all saw. But there were some positives as well, things that I am sure that the team can and will build on. I was also glad that we gave them a pretty good battle for a half. Any time Peyton Manning is under center, the potential for a blowout is there right away. Of course the momentum changed when the Welker drop wasn’t caught by the officials nor the Ravens’ coaching staff. But hey, such is life!
First I’ll look at what I didn’t like. Michael Huff stood out to me. I didn’t like his arm tackling or his coverage skills. I realize it’s going to take some time for the back end to come together, to communicate well, but the basics are the basics. I was screaming for Matt Elam to get off of the bench and in to the game, and I was very glad to see him in there. He is a thumper, and he did mix it up. I would also bring up Omar Brown. He’s got a nose for the ball, and he is always in the mix. Jimmy Smith had flashes, but I really didn’t like the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that he drew. It cost his team 15 yards of field position that they didn’t have to give. Gino Gradkowski had some nice blocks at the second level, but it seemed that he struggled with pass protection. No team can afford to allow pressure straight up the middle.
Josh Bynes looked slow in coverage. I would give Arthur Brown a shot right away. He’s got tremendous speed, and can cover tight ends as well as backs out of the backfield. As for the offense, I don’t know about Stokley and Clark. I don’t know if we’ll see any more from them than what we did Thursday night. Their best days are behind them. Ed Dickson is another story. I don’t know where to begin with him. I am going to nickname him “Catch 22″, because I believe if Flacco threw 100 balls his way, he would only catch 22 of them. Maybe.
Jacoby was looking pretty good before he got hurt. Marlon Brown looks like he belongs. He is tall, rangy, and willing. Glad he made the team and glad he was in there to catch his first NFL touchdown! I’d probably also bring up Mellette and put him in there. Go with the young guys, I say!
I know that I wasn’t the only nervous Baltimorean when I saw Webby and Pierce back there on the punt and kickoff return special teams! This is where we could have used (ahem) Bobby Rainey. I understand why he got cut, but I still don’t like it, and we sure as heck could have used him on special teams Thursday night. I was really glad that kickoffs sailed over Pierce’s head, and I held my breath when Webby returned one. We don’t need him popping his ACL again while returning a punt! I was really glad he used the fair catch signal for all of the others.
The fact that Artur Jones and Brandon Williams were out also hurt, but they’ll be back soon. We have Cleveland coming in on September 15, and just like everybody else, I am expecting a victory. I think we have the best 12th man (and woman) in the NFL. Crowd noise does make a difference in a football game. In fact, I think that one of the toughest – if not the toughetst – tasks in sports, is to win on the road in the NFL. Suggs and Dumervil showed flashes of brilliance, and I think they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium.
I think Cleveland is going to give us a battle. I do not think it’s going to be easy, but I do believe that the Ravens will prevail. This is a young team. This is a very young team. It will take some time for it to jell, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I believe that it’s going to take around 12 football games for the defense to really come together, to really communicate. This is a team that is going to get better as the season goes along, and that’s good news. We’ve seen what happens when a team starts too fast, too strong (see Houston last year). It is clear that coach Harbaugh is not going to have to face that challenge.
I will be delighted if we are 4-4 at the halfway point. The team will be in position to go on a run, and make the playoffs. And as we’ve seen the last 3 years, once you get in the playoffs – anything can happen! In fact, the last 3 SuperBowl winners have been wildcard teams. Going backwards it’s been us, the Giants, and the Packers.
So…..fasten your seatbelts, keep the faith, don’t get too down, don’t get too analytical, and look forward to THE NEXT GAME!!!