Friday, August 18, 2006

QUICK OBSERVATIONS FROM RAVENS V. EAGLES

I’ve received several calls today from friends wondering what I thought of last night’s game. There was plenty for Ravens fans to be pleased with. As I’ve been saying since Day 1 of training camp, Musa Smith looks great and John from Timonium, he will make folks forget about Chester Taylor if he hasn’t already.

Devard Darling stepped up and made a few nice plays. I’ve taken some criticism for promoting his play in camp and most have shot back that he’s a bust and he should be cut, etc., etc. I’ve heard folks say that he always gets in done in practice but he can’t get it done on the field.

That’s not true. At least it’s not true about the practices.

I’ve watched Darling closely over the past three Training Camps. In 2004 and 2005, he couldn’t even get open in practice much less a game. He’s improved and he’s now getting open on the field. One game doesn’t establish a career yet it is one game in the right direction.

Darling’s fellow 2004 draftee Dwan Edwards was impressive last night with a team leading 6 tackles. Perhaps the most memorable play from Edwards’ performance took place on a third and ten with 0:52 remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles were on their own 22 when Koy Detmer hit Ryan Moats on a screen. Edwards had been in hot pursuit of Detmer, read the screen and turned to pursue Moats. The result – a three yard loss.

These were a few of the positives. Overall I feel that if the two first teams had continued to play, the Ravens would have beaten the Eagles. Of course we’ll never know but that’s just the vibe I felt. The Eagles benefited from a horrendous pass interference call against Samari Rolle to start the game and set up their first three points. They then were the beneficiaries of a hands to the face penalty against Bart Scott (that I’ve yet to see) that kept a drive alive. On the succeeding play, McNabb found Correll Buckhalter alone in the right flat and Buckhalter took it 48 yards to the Ravens 1. So there’s your 10 Eagles points.

Yet despite the feeling that the Ravens would have won under normal game conditions, I’m bothered by the play of the offensive line. I’m particularly bothered by the sack of Steve McNair on first and ten from the Eagles 19 – on another running play! Sacked on a running play! Mike Flynn was beaten badly by Eagles’ DT Sam Rayburn and suddenly I’m thinking 2005 O-Line all over again. Granted it was one play but quarterbacks aren’t supposed to get sacked on running plays.

Immediately thereafter my thoughts wandered to Jason Brown. And what do I see from Brown during the second half – solid play. But he was playing guard while Thatcher Szalay played center. For what? Is Szalay going to make the final 53? And isn’t Brown not playing center with the first team because he allegedly hasn’t fully grasp the line calls and lacks experience? So give him the experience!

What was the line call on that sack, “Look out?!?”

I’ll be watching this closely…I’ll be watching this very closely. (thanks Skimmy)

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