Tag Archive | "Carry Williams"

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Baltimore Ravens 2013 Season Preview Part One

Posted on 05 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

Baltimore’s victory in Super Bowl XLVII was bittersweet. The Ravens had a reason to celebrate but it must also be put into perspective. Ray Lewis will never play for the Baltimore Ravens again. Neither will Ed Reed.

Many fan favorites are gone from Baltimore. Guys like Bernard Pollard, Carry Williams, and Anquan Boldin weren’t just great players. They were tempo setters. They brought intangibles to the team that personified the Ravens playing style and can’t be replaced.

Even with all the departures, the Ravens still stand a chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Don’t forget, they still have number five and 27 in the backfield. The Ravens offense will live and die by Flacco and Rice this season. Both are highly regarded by their peers and are a dangerous duo when Rice is involved in the passing game.

Even though Rice remains, the heart and soul of the offense is gone. Anquan Boldin will be wearing a 49ers jersey this season and will be greatly missed. In my opinion, the Ravens received too little for Boldin who is worth much more than a sixth round draft pick. Experts say he was getting old and could not separate but what does it matter if he still catches everything thrown his way?

In the coming season, the Ravens will replace Boldin’s production with Dennis Pitta. Pitta should play a hybrid position in 2013 between tight end and wide receiver. He will line up in the slot more often, which will allow more opportunities for Ed Dickson to be a pass catching threat. Don’t forget that Dickson can be a dangerous weapon when utilized. Before Pitta broke out in the 2012 season, Dickson had nearly 60 catches and 528 receiving yards.

Having Pitta in a hybrid role would also allow the Ravens to utilize versatile rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell could have a lot of fun with Juszczyk who played fullback, running back, and tight end at Harvard last season. His versatility will cause matchup, spelling, and pronunciation nightmares.

Speaking of nightmares, the Ravens defense will cause many of them this season. This defense has the ability to be one of the best in franchise history. Possibly the best Baltimore has seen since 2006. If you have followed the team closely, that must be music to your ears.

The main point behind my argument is this. The Ravens are younger, faster, more athletic, and extremely versatile.

The trio of Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata will be a lethal combination. All three players are elite at their respective positions and can take over games by themselves. Just think of all the fun they will have!

Ngata is so dominant that he will occupy blockers on the inside. In turn, other defensive lineman like Arthur Jones and Chris Canty will have an easier path to the quarterback. Suggs and Dumervil will then face less blockers on the outside but will also open things up for Ngata, Canty, and others when offenses are forced to put more attention on them. So in a way, offenses will have to pick their poison when facing the Ravens defense.

Despite the promise I see for the Ravens, a tough season still lies ahead. Thanks to the Orioles, the Ravens are forced to open on the road against Denver. Unless Jacoby Jones and Joe Flacco have another miracle up their selves, I don’t see this game ending well.

Following a tough opening game, the Ravens return home to face the Browns and Texans in consecutive weeks. If the Ravens do not perform well, the season could easily start with two losses to the Broncos and Texans. Following the Texans, the schedule gets progressively tougher. There are weaker teams on the schedule but the Packers, Steelers, Bears, Vikings, and Patriots will test Baltimore to their limits.

The Ravens have many factors in their favor for the 2013 season. Their recent dominance over the AFC North indicates they should win the division yet again. In addition, Joe Flacco is better than most of the quarterbacks the Ravens will face this year. The only quarterbacks better than Flacco on the Ravens schedule are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. Flacco is also very good in clutch situations so the Ravens will have an advantage over 13 teams they will face at the most important position on the field.

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Why the Ravens will survive offseason purge

Posted on 01 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

I just finished celebrating the Super Bowl victory when the Ravens began losing players. Some were to retirement while others were just released or traded. The losses include Carry Williams, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, and Dannell Ellerbe. At first, this was troubling but Ozzie Newsome had a plan and executed it to perfection.

Overwhelming, yes. But the Ravens are set up for long term success at the right price. That is something I have always admired about Ozzie Newsome. Newsome doesn’t get attached to players and approaches football from a business aspect at all times.

I guarantee you Newsome and the Ravens front office were laughing their you know whats off when players like Kruger and Ellerbe signed with other teams. Not to say Ellerbe and Kruger are bad players but they are not worth $75 million combined. Not to mention Ellerbe has struggled with injuries his entire career and Kruger had one good season.

Replacing Kruger and Ellerbe will be Arthur Brown and Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens also have replacements lined up for Williams, Pollard, and Kemoeatu. But notice how I didn’t mention replacements for Boldin, Lewis, or Reed. No one can replace those players.

Boldin is the only loss that truly concerns me. The roster is filled with young receivers with high ceilings and raw ability but that only takes you so far. Boldin brought intangibles to the offense that personified the Ravens playing style. He was also the guy Flacco looked for in clutch situations. None of the young receivers like Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss, or Tommy Streeter can replace Boldin but maybe Dennis Pitta can.

Look for the Ravens to use Pitta in more of a slot receiver role in 2013. With Pitta in the slot, they can utilize Ed Dickson who is a dangerous weapon when given the chance. Versatile rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk could also line up across from Dickson as a second tight end.

In a way, while they have lost Boldin, the offense has a chance to be more versatile. Replacing Boldin with a wide range of young fast receivers to stretch the field which fits Flacco’s skill set.

Expect the Ravens to make the playoffs once again. The defense has improved and Flacco can carry this offense. In addition, I dont trust the Bengals to make much of an improvement and the Ravens have owned the Steelers lately.

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Will the Ravens defense improve in 2013?

Posted on 01 April 2013 by jeffreygilley

Four weeks ago, everyone outside of Baltimore was skeptical of Ozzie Newsome. First, Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. Shortly after, Paul Kruger signed with the Browns and Dannell Ellerbe left for Miami. Ellerbe was viewed as the top priority for the Ravens but the Dolphins were willing to pay more for his services.

But that was just the beginning. Other key players including Carry Williams Ed Reed also joined other teams. Bernard Pollard is also no longer part of the team. Pollard was released and has since signed with the Tennessee Titans.

All of these players were critical to the Ravens regular and postseason success. Despite that, I believe the defense will be better. But then again, it’s not difficult to improve when the Ravens ranked in the high teens and low 20’s in most defensive categories.

Despite these losses, can the Ravens defense improve in 2013? The short answer is yes. The reason? Versatility.

All of the free agents the Ravens have signed this offseason have the ability to play multiple positions. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears can play almost every position on the defensive line and Michael Huff can play any position in the secondary.

The additions of Canty and Spears give the Ravens a scary rotation along the defensive line. Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones will also be vital parts of that rotation. Even Deangelo Tyson could get playing time.

With Canty, Spears, McPhee, Tyson, and Jones in a rotation at the 3-4 defensive end and defensive tackle spots, Haloti Ngata can play more nose tackle, which is his favorite position.

Add Elvis Dumervil to that equation and I would be shocked if the Ravens don’t come close to leading the NFL in sacks. Dumervil and Suggs will consistently command attention on the outside. In turn, opportunities will open up for Ngata, McPhee, and the rest of the Ravens defensive lineman on the inside.

The only question mark for the Ravens defense to me is the secondary. With Carry Williams departure to Philadelphia and Lardarius Webb’s return from injury, Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham might have to play larger roles this season.

Inside linebacker could be viewed as another area of need but the additions to the defensive line should help the middle of the defense. The Ravens could also look to the draft for a young inside linebacker. Candidates would include Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, or Florida linebacker Jon Bostic in the later rounds.

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Against all Odds, the Ravens have made the AFC Championship

Posted on 14 January 2013 by jeffreygilley

The Ravens have had a very unique year. Perhaps no other team could do what the Ravens have done and Saturday night was a microcosm of their season.

How many teams could respond to the special teams mistakes the Ravens made? Those returns should have been momentum builders for the Broncos and momentum killers for the Ravens. Yet, the team, and more importantly, Joe Flacco responded in a game that many will remember for a very long time.

In addition to overcoming big plays, they have dealt with heartache in the passing of Art Modell and Torrey Smith’s brother, and a three game losing streak that had many writing them off.

Injuries on both sides of the ball but particularly on defense have been a theme of the season. Before the season even started, the team lost Terrell Suggs, the reigning defensive player of the year.

But things only got worse for the defense. At one point, Dean Pees had to use fifth and sixth string players at the cornerback and inside linebacker positions.

Injuries were so bad that Carry Williams and Ed Reed were the only two starters on defense that did not miss any time due to injury.

But the defense survived and got better as the season progressed.

Despite all of this, the Ravens get their chance at redemption this Sunday. While the Ravens beat the Patriots in week three, a playoff rematch is what the Ravens have really wanted. This will be a fantastic game and would be fitting if it came down to a field goal once again.

In last year’s game, Joe Flacco outplayed arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. That is not debatable. But Flacco was aided by a Patriots defense that was among the worst in NFL history, especially against the pass. This year, the Patriots defense is much better, particularly at the cornerback position with the addition of Aqib Talib.

Even though the Patriots defense has improved, Flacco will have a lot of confidence from his performance against the Broncos. While the Patriots will have a better game plan to defend the deep ball, Flacco will have success with shorter to intermediate passes to Anquan Bodin and Dennis Pitta.

Flacco should also be aided by tremendous pass protection. The team has finally assembled their best offensive line and it has payed off. McKinnie and Oher neutralized the most dangerous pass rushing duo in the NFL and the interior of the line is better with Osemele at left guard.

As always, the running game needs to be a big factor for the Ravens to win this game. Ray Rice must be aggressive, unlike his performance against the Broncos. Rice had a great game but was not hitting the holes with the explosiveness in which he usually does.

I am not going to predict this game just yet. But expect a fantastic game that will come down to a photo-finish.

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Can the Ravens Overcome the Injuries to Lewis and Webb?

Posted on 15 October 2012 by jeffreygilley

Lets start with the good news, which many are overlooking.  The Ravens have lost one game despite losing one of the most dynamic defensive players in the NFL earlier in the offseason.  This team could even be undefeated.

So what does all of this mean?  It means that the Ravens are one of the most battle-tested teams in the NFL right now.  They are used to playing in close games and have shown they can win close games, which is an improvement from last year.

But, as many know by now, there is also bad news, very bad news.  The Ravens will be without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season.  Lewis suffered a torn triceps injury and Webb tore his ACL in the first quarter of yesterday’s game.  Not only are Webb and Lewis great players, but they are also great leaders.

Webb is a lesser known player in the NFL.  Many people outside of Baltimore might not know who he is.  But when healthy, Webb is one of the best cornerbacks in the league.  He consistently shut down opposing wide receivers last season and is tied with Eric Weddle for the most interceptions since the 2011 season.

Carry Williams and Jimmy Smith will be the starters for the rest of the season.  Both are capable of taking Webb’s place but neither will play up to the level that Webb is capable of.  The Ravens were already struggling to defend the pass, so the outlook does not look very good.

Jimmy Smith was a first round pick in 2011 and played very well at the end of last season.  But he is still a young player and has not looked the same through the first six games of 2012.  He will be tested this week when he lines up across from Andre Johnson.

Losing Ray Lewis is devastating.  He is the heart and soul of the team and is still playing well in his 17th season.  Losing Lewis means that Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain will be the two starters.  But, if Terrell Suggs returns in the next few weeks, the Ravens could change things around.

For one, Albert McClellan could move to the inside.  McClellan has been a starter at outside linebacker and has played well but has yet to register a sack.  McClellan started one game at middle linebacker last season against the 49ers when Ray Lewis was sidelined with an injury.  McClellan was impressive in that game and recorded four tackles.

The bottom line is that Joe Flacco needs to keep playing at a high level.  He was practically handed the starting job in 2008 when Troy Smith was sick and the rest is history.  If Flacco can keep playing at a high level and carry this team despite all these injuries, the Ravens will hand him something else, a blank check.

No matter what happens for the rest of the season, we are going to learn a lot about the Baltimore Ravens.

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Ravens Grades After a Quarter of the Season

Posted on 02 October 2012 by jeffreygilley

After a quarter of the 2012 season, the Ravens are 3-1.  The three victories have come against the Bengals, Patriots, and Browns with the only loss coming against the Eagles in week two.  The road ahead has some difficult stretches which includes the Steelers in week 11, the Chargers in week 12, and the Steelers again in week 13.

Here are my grades for the Ravens through the first quarter of the season:

Joe Flacco – A.

Statistics: 63.5 completion percentage, 1,269 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT, 95.8 QB rating.

Joe Flacco looks much different this season.  He is more decisive and has a great supporting cast of receivers, tight ends, and running backs.  For the first time in Flacco’s NFL career, he has a receiving core that is complete and showcases his arm talent.  Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are speedy wide outs that have the potential to take the top off a defense.  Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin work underneath and act as Flacco’s security blankets but can also make big time plays when needed.  Finally, Ray Rice can come out of the backfield and even run routes in the slot to give Flacco an extra target.

Flacco is very comfortable in the new no-huddle offense.  If Flacco can keep playing at a high level, the Ravens might find themselves in the Super Bowl.

Offensive Line: B

When considering all the changes the offensive line has gone through, they have been fantastic this season.  Ramon Harewood is by far the biggest surprise and has been one of the Ravens best offensive lineman through the first quater of the season.  He is a talented run blocker and is good in pass protection.  The line has given up 9 sacks which puts them on pase for 36.  This would be tied for the second highest in Flacco’s career.  Even though the line has struggled at times, keep in mind that they are going through a lot of changes and by the end of the season, this line will continue to improve and could be one of the best in the league.

Running backs: B+

Ray Rice Statistics: 64 carries, 317 yards, 3 TD

Bernard Pierce Statistics: 17 carries, 88 yards, 0 TD

Both the Ravens running backs are averaging at least five yards per carry.  Obviously, Rice is the better of the two players but Pierce has provided a good second option and is a very powerful runner.  Rice is averaging just under 80 yards rushing per game but has done a lot for the Ravens in the play-action passing game.  Rice is very valuable to this offense and Cam Cameron is using him very effectively.

Receivers: B

This receiving core is the most complete that I can remember.  Smith and Jones are down field threats but the Ravens also have a myriad of underneath threats that provide good match ups against linebackers and safeties.  At times, the receivers have struggled to get separation but for the most part, they have been fantastic.  Tandon Doss is a name to keep an eye on for the rest of the season.  The third year receiver out of Indiana has recently received a lot of praise from John Harbaugh.  Harbaugh said Doss will be a threat all season after his 39 yard catch against the Browns.  Doss offers a lot of upside but has to compete with Jacoby Jones who is ahead of Doss on the depth chart.

Defensive Line: C+

The Ravens have struggled to create a pass rush throughout the season.  Haloti Ngata is playing at an all-pro level but Pernell McPhee  has not been the force many thought he would be this season.  Luckily, the season is still young so expect McPhee to play at a higher level.  Although they have struggled at times to generate pass rush, they have been great at stopping the run.  They held LeSean McCoy, one of the league’s elite running backs to 81 yards on 25 attempts and have looked been good in the other games with the exception of the Bengals.

Linebackers: C

The loss of Terrell Suggs has been devastating.  Younger players like Paul Kruger, Courtney UpShaw, and Albert McClellan havent been able to get the job done and win one-on-one match ups.     Combined, the three players have only amassed two sacks.  UpShaw has received much more playing time lately and has played much better than he did in the preseason.  Terrell Suggs is expected to return around week seven.  Suggs wont be himself for the first few games but the Ravens really need him late in the season when they play the Steelers twice in three weeks.  If Suggs returns by week seven, which is his target return date, he might be one hundred percent healthy by the playoffs, should the Ravens make the playoffs.

Defensive backs: C

The Ravens have struggled mightily against the pass this season.  They have given up an average of 295 yards in each game and most recently gave up 320 passing yards to rookie Brandon Weeden in Baltimore.  Overall, the weak spot for the secondary has been Carry Williams.  With the exception of the pick-six last week, Williams has struggled.  Teams have been avoiding Lardarius Webb who is one of the better cornerbacks in the league and Jimmy Smith has played well at times.  I would like to see the Ravens play more press coverage to take advantage of the size Smith and Williams possess.

Special Teams: A

The special teams unit has greatly improved from last season.  Corey Graham, Chykie Brown, Deonte Thompson, and Justin Tucker have all played at a high level.  Tucker is the biggest story because he won the kicking job from Billy Cundiff and has only missed one kick.

Overall, I am very optimistic about the Ravens.  They have a favorable matchup this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs and then have the Dallas Cowboys who looked dreadful against the Bears on Monday Night Football.  If Flacco continues to play at a high level and Terrell Suggs can return and play well, the Ravens will have a high playoff seed.

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First Team Units Struggle in Atlanta

Posted on 10 August 2012 by jeffreygilley

The preseason did not start well for the Baltimore Ravens.  The starting offense, defense, and special teams units struggled throughout their time on the field.  That said, we still need to keep in mind that this is the first preseason game and the Ravens still have three more weeks to get their act together.

Although it is the preseason, there were still some obvious concerns on the team.  Scratch that, there were many issues with the team.  Going into the 2012 season, many Ravens fans are counting on the secondary to make up for the loss of Terrell Suggs.  The secondary should be one of the team’s biggest strengths but it looked like a weakness last night.  Maybe the loss of Terrell Suggs will prove to be much more significant that we thought seeing as Matt Ryan was able to stand in the pocket with little to no pressure.  Still, Carry Williams and Lardarius Webb did not look like themselves.  Williams was attacked the entire first quarter and was beaten badly by Julio Jones on more than one occasion.

If Jimmy Smith can return from injury, he should help the secondary.  If Smith had played last night, I think he would have played well against Jones.  Smith is the only corner on the Ravens roster that has the physical attributes to cover receivers like Julio Jones.  Hopefully, Jimmy Smith can return next week when the Lions come to Baltimore.  After all, Calvin Johnson is far superior to Julio Jones and it would be a great test for Jimmy Smith.

Matt Ryan had all day to throw the football.  That said, the loss of Terrell Suggs might be more significant than anticipated.  Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan, and Sergio Kindle struggled to apply pressure throughout their time on the field.  The return of Courtney UpShaw should help this defense get pressure on the quarterback.  Although UpShaw is more of a run stuffer, he also has pass rush ability.  If Kruger, Kindle, and McClellan continue to struggle when it comes to rushing the passer, UpShaw might be asked to play a bigger role than he expected.

Now to the offensive line…where do I start?  The best possible solution for the offensive line is to have Bryant McKinnie return to the first team offense.  Michael Oher looked good at left tackle but McKinnie is just a better option.  Having McKinnie and Oher at tackle gives the Ravens one of the better tackle combinations in the league.  It also lets players like Jah Reid and Kelochi Osemele develop until they are asked to play a bigger role in the years to come.

The interior of the offensive line had a bad night.  Marshal Yanda looked good but Bobby Williams and Gino Gradkowski struggled.  I recognize Gradkowski is a rookie and I will give him a pass for now.  He struggled early but looked good as the game went on.  Matt Birk’s return should help the line as a whole and should also help in Gradkowski’s development.  Bobby Williams did not play very well either.  Williams is a run blocking nightmare for defensive lineman but Williams looked sluggish when pulling.  If Bobby Williams continues to struggle, Kelechi Osemele could start at left guard.  Osemele has shown some great run blocking ability in camp thus far and will be a valuable starter one day for the Ravens.

Bobby Rainey was a bright spot for the Ravens last night.  Rainey got a lot of playing time at punt returner and was solid, but not great.  Rainey shined when it came to catching the ball out of the backfield and running between the tackles.  Rainey is almost a clone of Ray Rice.  He is about the same size, has great speed and acceleration, and for his size, he is a surprisingly powerful runner.

Rainey’s biggest play came in the fourth quarter.  Rainey caught a screen pass from Curtis Painter and broke several tackles on an eighteen yard touchdown.  If Rainey can continue to play like he did in Atlanta, it will be hard to cut him.  Rainey is getting some help from Damien Berry and Anthony Allen, both of whom are competing to back up Ray Rice and make the roster.  Both Berry and Allen struggled last night with Berry having the more impressive night of the two.

Throughout this blog I have been down on some of the players and I think it was well deserved.  But, I also recognize that its the preseason and Ravens fans should not panic unless the Ravens first team units continue to struggle.

 

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Reed’s Return Makes Secondary Elite

Posted on 23 July 2012 by jeffreygilley

The Baltimore Ravens need Ed Reed.  Reed is widely considered the best ball-hawk the NFL has seen in sometime and his numbers reinforce that fact.

But, Reed has been contemplating retirement for a few years now mainly due to a neck injury.

In a recent interview, Reed said he missed mini-camps because he wanted to spend more time with his family.  This might be a reason why Ed Reed has been considering retirement recently.  The NFL commands a vast majority of each player’s time and all of them miss significant family events and holidays.

Now that Reed is committed to playing football, the Ravens secondary is going to be one of the team’s biggest strengths.

Lardarius Webb had a breakout performance last season and is the team’s best cornerback since Chris McAlister.  Webb should be one of the best cornerbacks in the league for years to come.

Lardarius Webb isn’t the only cornerback on the roster that teams should be scared of.  Jimmy Smith has the ability to be one of the best corners in the NFL and Carry Williams could start for a lot of teams.  The corners are special and Ed Reed makes them even better.

Ed Reed no longer has the pressure of making up for mistakes the cornerbacks make because there won’t be as many this season.  Reed will be able to play more freely and make plays.

The secondary will struggle at times because of the loss of Terrell Suggs.  Without Suggs, the secondary will be forced to cover for a longer amount of time.  While this sounds like a bad position to be in, the Ravens can counteract this with Jimmy Smith and Carry Williams.  Smith and Williams specialize in press coverage and can disrupt the timing of passing routes.  Thus, the Ravens young outside linebackers and defensive linemen more time to get to the quarterback.

If the Ravens put Smith and Williams on the outside, they can disrupt routes of two wide receivers on each play.  Webb is then free to play off coverage where he is more effective because of his ability to recognize routes and jump them to make a play.

Bernard Pollard is another player to keep an eye on this season.  Pollard is known for his hitting ability but is also dependable in coverage.  If Pollard had better hands, he could have had about three or four more interceptions last season.  I think Pollard is one of the better safeties in the league but is never in that conversation because of his years in Houston where he had little to no help on defense.

The only question mark for the Ravens secondary is the fourth cornerback spot.  Players like Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, and Corey Graham to compete for the fourth cornerback spot.  Graham has the early edge because of his experience but Brown impressed a lot of coaches in training camp last year.

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