So what can we decipher from the Ravens’ victory over the Giants last night in preseason week three? First off, if there’s ever a preseason game that you want to win (or at least look good, it’s week three. As we know, the third game is the one where the starters generally play the most in the preseason. In next week’s preseason finale against the Falcons, the veterans will play sparingly in the first quarter before surrendering the remainder of the game to the reserves trying to make the team. So if we see Joe Flacco and company at all next week, it won’t be for long. Therefore this game was a nice finishing touch on a preseason where the Ravens’ offense did in fact look pretty good.
So the Ravens win, the starters look good, it’s a win-win, right? Not totally. Wide receivers Donte Stallworth and Mark Clayton both sustained injuries during the game. Win or lose, injuries are big time buzz kills in preseason games. Clayton has a concussion, but is expected to be ready for September 13th against the Jets. Stallworth’s injury is a bit more serious in that he has a broken foot. Preliminary indications say that Stallworth will miss the first half of the season, and will return towards the end of October.
One thing that I found interesting and a bit refreshing was the use of the no-huddle offense, known to many of my generation as the “run-and-shoot.” While twenty years ago many teams such as the Buffalo Bills and Houston Oilers utilized this offensive strategy on almost every play. In my opinion the run-and-shoot is something that should be strategically employed when the defense least expects it, which is how the Ravens used it. If a team’s playing against a “run-and-shoot team,” they can game plan for it just like anything else. If a team throws the ball every down without running, they won’t get anywhere because teams will adjust their defense to protect against the pass. The way the Ravens used the no-huddle offense seemed to catch the Giants off guard, which is what it’s designed to do.
So while the Ravens won the game, in a sense they lost because they sustained a major injury to a player that was expected to contribute to the team in a major way. One thing that’ll be interesting to see is whether or not the Ravens pick up another receiver, or stick with what they have for the first part of the season. The Jets released Laverneus Coles this weekend, so he’s available. And go figure, the Ravens open the season against the Jets; Coles wouldn’t only be a valuable fill-in for Stallworth, but he would also potentially know a few things about the Jets that would help the Ravens. Hmm…