After watching the Ravens squeak out a win in overtime against the Steelers last night I had a few thoughts about two of the Ravens offensive lynchpins for years to come.
First of all we need to find a way to prevent Joe from taking huge hits after throwing the ball. Joe has impressed me with his ability to deliver the ball accurately with the pass rush bearing down on him; but these hits are not only going to take a cumulative toll on his body but raise the chances of a potentially catastrophic injury when he is getting punched in the mouth every time he drops back to pass.
Right now Joe’s ankle is clearly affecting his mobility and leaving him more susceptible to the big hit because he can not move around the pocket as well as he did in his rookie year.
I also feel like Joe is a bit lackadaisical with disguising the play action pass. I don’t really see him fooling too many defenders with his play action ability. All of the really good quarterbacks in the NFL do an above average job of utilizing the play action pass to buy more time in the pocket. Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger are two players that immediately come to mind when thinking about utilizing the play action to their advantage.
On the other hand Ray Rice has become the “ultimate weapon” on offense and a player that has multiple Pro Bowls ahead of him. Rice can truly do it all; he runs hard in the ground game and has excellent hands in the passing game. He has shown an amazing combination of power and finesse; bowling over defenders on one play and then juking them out of their shoes the next.
Rice is averaging 128 yards from scrimmage per game and is well on pace for 2,000 all purpose yards. He is creating matchup nightmares all over the field and is someone that teams must game plan against when going up against the Ravens.
Rice has also developed a special relationship with Ray Lewis and seems to be soaking up a lot of “Big Ray’s” better traits. I could see Rice becoming the vocal leader on offense; something that could pay major dividends going forward.
A completely random observation I made from last nights game was when Hines Ward was carrying Ed Reed eleven yards down field on his back, he was laughing the entire time. I mean what the hell is so funny to this guy? He is laughing the entire game; are they playing clips from Chris Rock’s stand up act in his helmet the entire game. I am a fairly happy guy but if I walked around laughing constantly I think people would begin to question my sanity. I don’t know if there has ever been one player that has irritated me more than Hines Ward in the history of sports.