Monday, September 20, 2010

The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox: Ravens @ Bengals

Winning two consecutive road games to start the season is never easy particularly when the first is a very physical Monday Night contest and both games are against playoff teams from the previous year. Last week it could be said that the Ravens refused to lose instead of playing to win and they emerged with the “W” against the Jets. This week you might say that they refused to win, gift wrapping the game for the Bengals with four Joe Flacco interceptions.

Flacco looked comfortable on only one offensive possession – the first of the second half that produced the game’s only touchdown, a beautifully thrown ball to Derrick Mason for a 31 yard score. Sometimes the starting pitcher doesn’t have it and clearly yesterday was one of those days for the Ravens signal caller. A relief pitcher should have been called for.

Had Bulger entered the game, it wouldn’t necessarily trigger a quarterback controversy, not if properly managed. Flacco didn’t have it at all. If the Ravens were concerned about Flacco’s psyche after being pulled, well they shouldn’t be. If he’s that soft does anyone expect him to be a formidable leader? Get out of the game, take your medicine, don’t pout and hope that your team can bail you out of a miserable performance.

It should be an interesting week of sports talk radio here in the Land of Pleasant Living.

Now, on to The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox

THE GOOD: Haloti Ngata was a force registering a QB hurry and 8 tackles. He dominated the Bengals’ interior line…Ray Lewis’ play continues to belie his age. He was all over the field making plays at the line of scrimmage. Assist to his play goes to Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Brandon McKinney…Save his fumble Jalen Parmele was plus in the return game averaging 30 yards on 3 returns. Tom Zbikowski while not stellar rebounded with a decent performance as a punt returned, navigating some tight quarters deep in Ravens territory to help shift the battle for field position…Ray Rice was productive in relatively limited action which Cam Cameron will need to explain. He finished with 87 yards on just 16 carries.

THE BAD: TJ Houshmandzadeh had at least two chances to help bail out the Ravens’ offense and failed. When you get two hands on the football, you have to make the catch…The kick coverage team failed to keep the momentum for the Ravens after they took the lead in the fourth quarter, 10-9. The ensuing kick was returned 61 yards to the Raven 41 yard line…Cam Cameron for abandoning what looked to be a productive rushing attack particularly in light of Flacco’s struggles…Chris Chester and Marshal Yanda struggled in pass protection...Gene Steratore's officiating crew stunk! (see video below)

THE UGLY: Joe Flacco regression is alarming and he has learned next to nothing from his experiences against the Bengals who Cover 2 him to death. He was 17 of 39 for 154 yards with 1 scoring strike and four interceptions. His footwork is terrible, timing is off, decision making highly questionable and he locks in on receivers in much the same way as a fighter plane locks in on its target – the big difference being that the fighter plane connects. Flacco was so locked on the left sideline that completely missed Derrick Mason streaking all alone down the right sideline for what would have been an easy touchdown. Flacco could have punted the ball to Mason. Why does a QB who is 6’6 ½” tall get so many passes tipped at the line of scrimmage? You guessed it – staring down his primary target and predetermining prior to the snap where he is going with the ball. I don’t believe he checked out of one play the entire afternoon when it was obvious a few called in the huddle would never work despite having time on the play clock to make pre-snap adjustments. Just an absolutely wretched performance that should be cause for concern going forward.

THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: This week’s MFA goes to the Ravens’ secondary. They were heavily criticized the entire offseason and preseason yet they kept plugging away. Yesterday they teamed to limit the Bengals’ Batman & Robin tandem of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco to 7 catches for 111 yards and they kept Carson Palmer from striking pay dirt for four quarters and forcing him into a rather inept QB rating of 60.1 at home. Nice to see Lardarius Webb back in action making contributions as well as newcomer Josh Wilson. Fabian Washington and Chris Carr both turned in nice efforts and the safeties stayed true to their landmarks although they both could use work with the Juggs machine. If either Zbikowski or Dawan Landry makes one of those interceptions the outcome of the game could have been different.


Jerry B said...

The Ravens problems on offense began last year with the decision to turn away from the dominant, run oriented offense featuring the "three-headed monster" of Flacco's rookie year that led them to a 11-5 record and one game shy of the Super Bowl! They have put entirely too much pressure on their young QB who, like his "O" line, is struggling. Better to return to that successful formula of yesteryear, but the question is.... who will provide the lead blocking?!

Ben said...

So last week I defended Joe and thought the criticism was unwarranted, unfortunately it wasn't. The Ravens played well enough to decimate that team on Sunday, but with Flacco's performance, they would have lost to Towson. I don't think that it's all doom and gloom just yet however and I'm interested to see how short the leash will be week four against Pittsburgh. Next week won't mean anything unless he plays terribly and the true test will be the following week at Pitt. If he plays well there and shows signs of a franchise QB then I think they are still an elite team. If however he doesn't then the team has to go to Bulger.

Scott said...

I still have faith in Joe, and am hoping that this last game was just a matter of him having a bad day (even the best have them). But, it does make you wonder if there was a little more than meets the eye to signing Bulger.

Phil from Frostburg said...

A few additional observations from the bleachers:
The Good:
* What more can you say about the defense? No touchdowns in two games on the road facing seven turnovers by the offense. While the blitzes we saw in preseason have not been as effective, as predicted, the coverage and schemes have been superb. Now if they can only begin to take the ball away themselves...
* Cundiff appears to be the right choice so far
* If you took a poll two weeks ago, most people would have been satisfied with 1-1. Now let's move on to the normal part of our schedule.

The Bad:
* Who else? So much for Jim Zorn, the great QB coach who would improve his mechanics. Can his mechanics be any worse? All that said, MUST NOT PANIC. See Mark Sanchez.
* I think putting Yanda at RT hurts two positions and is worse than sticking Moll out there. The run blocking is poor, and defensive pressure is also coming up the middle, not just off the edge. For all the good things Ozzie and Eric did with the secondary (last minute) and WRs before the season, their complete inattention to finding decent reserve tackles is clearly the Achilles Heel.
* Shame on Boldin for woofing visibly on the sidelines about Flacco's poor play.
* Finally had an unfortunately brief Ed Dickson sighting (besides his blocking inadequacies). For all the talk in training camp about deep middle patterns with the TEs, we haven't even attempted it once. Cam should watch Houston Texans tape for how to use the deep middle.
* Speaking of the Texans, I wonder if Redskins haters realize the Texans' comeback might actually hurt the Ravens in the wild card down the road.
* Can the Steelers defense really be that good? Could be a 3-0 game in two weeks.
* Kickoff coverage - ugly!

The unexplainable
* How is it that every AFC South team runs wild through the Colts defense, but they shut everyone else down, including the Ravens?
* [Off topic] How is it that the Terps can send so many individual defensive players to the NFL recently (Merriman, FOxworth, Wilson, Henderson brothers and on and on) and yet the team defense is just wretched year in and year out?