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Our Ravens/Redskins “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Washington Redskins 31-28 in overtime Sunday at FedEx Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Matt Birk

4. Cary Williams

3. Ed Reed

2. Joe Flacco

1. John Harbaugh (Two Slaps)

(Ryan’s Slaps on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check: I think we all need some civic therapy today

Posted on 03 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I don’t have it in me.

Honestly, I combed over all of my usual spots looking for fun videos, GIFs, etc. for the 15-7-0. I wanted to have one more big roundup to close the college football season. I hope Roofing By Elite will be okay with sponsoring this diatribe instead.

As part of hosting a local sports talk show, I often find myself playing the role of civic therapist. After Baltimore Ravens losses, I’ll regularly hear things like “did you have to spend the day trying to talk everyone off the ledge?”

I’d like to think I’ve been fairly successful in that, although it was certainly come with my share of mini-meltdowns in the process.

I don’t think I’m going to melt down this time. I’m certainly not on the ledge myself.

I don’t think I’m on the ledge, anyway.

Am I on the ledge?

You know what happened. The Charlie Batch-led Pittsburgh Steelers invaded M&T Bank Stadium and used a Shaun Suisham field goal as time expired to pull off one of the more improbable victories of the 2012 NFL season. The Steelers snapped the Ravens’ lengthy win streaks both at home (15) and against AFC North opponents (12). They also prevented the Ravens from clinching a playoff spot in the AFC and pulled within two games of their longtime rival in the race for the division crown.

This one hurt.

With Ben Roethlisberger out again, this was a prime opportunity for the Ravens to vanquish one foe and focus on bigger goals. The Ravens are still in good position to claim the AFC North title this season, but everything the Ravens do this season is being measured by the fact that there is an expectation for them to reach the Super Bowl.

It was tough to imagine a team that struggled to a 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs making a run to the Super Bowl. It’s equally difficult to fathom a team that lost at home to Charlie Batch making a run to the Super Bowl.

(This is the part where civic therapist Glenn Clark reminds everyone that they’re not moving up the date of the Super Bowl to December and it is absolutely impossible that the Steelers and Ravens will both be playing in the game. Sorry. I had to.)

The truth is that the concerns that stem from the Ravens’ loss aren’t dissimilar to those we had experienced earlier in wins and losses. The truth is that those concerns will likely pop up again, perhaps as early as next week in a visit to face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. The truth is that as long as the Baltimore Ravens were winning games, those concerns weren’t REALLY issues.

The Ravens simply needed to put themselves in the best possible situation to make a playoff run. If the Ravens continued to struggle offensively on the road but won, they’d still be in perfect shape to have to win no more than one road game in the postseason to get to New Orleans.

That’s the NFL. Your issues are only as significant as the record you carry them with. In that way, the Ravens are still in good shape at 9-3; but the nature of how this one went awry makes you worry about the ability for the team to keep winning through struggles.

In a game the Ravens only lost by three points, this one had a little bit of everything…

-Questionable play calling
-Poor clock management decisions
-Shaky quarterback play
-Offensive line lapses
-Inconsistent rushing
-Untimely drops
-Non-existent pass rush
-Awful tackling
-Secondary miscommunication
-Game changing turnovers
-3rd down struggles
-Red zone issues
-Potentially season changing injuries
-A partridge in a pear tree

Okay, maybe not the last one. But the rest were accurate at one point or another.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Dickson, Ellerbe, Graham, J. Jones sit out Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 28 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With a chance to clinch the AFC North division title against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the Ravens hit the practice field on Wednesday with four key players missing from action.

Tight end Ed Dickson, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Corey Graham, and wide receiver Jacoby Jones did not practice in the first full workout of the week while five other players practiced on a limited basis.

Dickson and Ellerbe are considered to be the biggest concerns in terms of their availability for Sunday’s game as the starting tight end is dealing with a knee injury while the inside linebacker suffered an ankle injury in the 16-13 win over the San Diego Chargers. Coach John Harbaugh said Monday he expected each player to be very limited in practices this week with the thought that they would both have a chance to play against the Steelers.

“I feel pretty good,” Dickson said prior to missing Wednesday’s practice. “I’m as far along as I can be on a Wednesday, and I want to continue to rehab it and get ready.”

Graham was listed as missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness while Jones rested the sore ankle that was re-aggravated during Sunday’s win.

Cornerback Chris Johnson, defensive end Pernell McPhee, and safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed were all limited participants.

Harbaugh confirmed that linebacker Ray Lewis was in the building rehabbing on Wednesday, which is something he’d done away from the facility prior to this point, but did not practice. The 37-year-old linebacker is eligible to return to the practice field on Thursday, but the Baltimore coach gave no indication when he would begin working with the rest of the team.

“We’ll just play it day by day as far as whether he practices or not,” Harbaugh said. “He is not imminent to return to play or anything like that, so to me it’s really a non-story. He’ll go out there when he’s ready to practice when the elbow holds up, and when that happens, we’ll let you know.”

For Pittsburgh, quarterback Ben Roethlisbeger practiced on a limited basis as most media reports are giving him no more than a 50 percent chance of playing against the Ravens on Sunday. Head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the plan is to prepare as if backup Charlie Batch will start this week while Roethlisberger tests out his injured right shoulder in practices.

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was absent from Wednesday’s practice and is considered doubtful after sustaining an ankle injury in the Steelers loss in Cleveland.

The Steelers received good news, however, with the returns of wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Troy Polamalu, who are both expected to play in Baltimore if they don’t suffer any setbacks.

BALTIMORE
OUT: CB Jimmy Smith (abs)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle, knee, finger), CB Corey Graham (illness), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Chris Johnson (thigh), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder), WR Torrey Smith (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Anquan Boldin (knee), DT Terrence Cody (elbow), TE Dennis Pitta (neck), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Mike Adams (ankle), T Willie Colon (knee), QB Byron Leftwich (ribs), T Max Starks (back), LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), QB Ben Roethlishberger (right shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Antonio Brown (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf)

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Rice’s miracle play grabs headline, but Ravens defense made comeback possible

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Ray Rice’s miraculous catch and run on fourth-and-29 will go down as one of the greatest regular-season plays in the 17-year history of the Ravens and will be remembered in the years to come.

A late awakening by quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense completed an improbable 16-13 comeback victory over the San Diego Chargers and pushed the Ravens to 9-2, matching their best start in franchise history.

But none of it would have been possible if not for the stout performance of an undermanned, banged-up Baltimore defense at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday. As much grief as he received early in the season, first-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees deserves a pat on the back after the last two weeks in which the Ravens have held opponents to a combined 23 points in two road victories.

The injuries are well-documented and the struggles have been scrutinized throughout the season, but the defense came to play in what appeared to be a difficult matchup against a Chargers attack that’s struggled all season but still possesses the weapons to be dangerous on any given Sunday. The Ravens held San Diego to 13 points, surrendered 280 yards, and sacked quarterback Philip Rivers a season-high six times in their most impressive defensive performance of the year.

San Diego was just 3-for-15 on third down and 0-for-1 in the red zone as the Ravens continued an incredible streak of four straight games without allowing a red-zone touchdown. Baltimore has kept opponents out of the end zone in their last 10 trips inside the 20-yard line.

The numbers barely make you blink in the context of what’s been one of the greatest defenses in the NFL for more than a decade, but a simple look around the field reminds you just how impressive the group has been recently. A 10-point effort against Pittsburgh was brushed off because backup Byron Leftwich was at the helm for the Steelers, but to hold Rivers and the Chargers to 13 points in nearly 75 minutes of play Sunday is worthy of recognition.

That is, if you can recognize who’s making the plays. By no means have they become a no-name defense — Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Ed Reed are still on the field, even if less than 100 percent in each case — but the Ravens continued to receive contributions from unlikely sources.

Replacing inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who left the game with an ankle injury, 36-year-old special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo was a factor in pass coverage, making four tackles and defending a pass in extensive action. Filling in for the man who was already replacing the injured Ray Lewis and has arguably been the Ravens’ best defender this season, Ayanbadejo made several key tackles in the second half to help stall San Diego drives.

Another special-teams player, cornerback Corey Graham, continued his strong play in the secondary by making five tackles and defending two passes as he continues to fill in effectively for the injured Jimmy Smith. He and Cary Williams held up well against taller wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander in what looked like a mismatch on paper heading into Sunday’s game.

More impressive than anyone, however, was third-year defensive end Arthur Jones, who collected the first two sacks of his career and added another tackle for a loss as he manhandled the Chargers up front. Largely considered a disappointment in increased action this season, Jones has played his best games of the season the last two weeks, making the extended absence of Pernell McPhee little more than an afterthought at this point.

The key to the defensive prosperity on Sunday was the Ravens’ pass rush as Suggs, Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and rookie Courtney Upshaw collected sacks in addition to the two secured by Jones. Baltimore took advantage of a poor San Diego offensive line and made Rivers uncomfortable in the pocket, allowing the secondary to tighten its coverage.

Aside from a lone drive for a field goal surrendered in the game’s final 41 minutes, the defense was exceptional, forcing four three-and-outs in the second half and keeping the Baltimore offense within striking distance when it finally awoke from its game-long slumber midway through the fourth quarter.

The numbers won’t blow you away and the defensive stars aren’t playing at the same level they did in the past, but Pees has seemingly cracked the code to repair the crisis this defense was facing during its bye week. In the four games played since the break, the Ravens have allowed a total of 58 points after giving up 43 alone against Houston on Oct. 21.

Maybe it was Pees’ decision to move upstairs to the coaches’ booth. Perhaps unheralded players are finally living up to the mantra of “next man up” that’s constantly uttered in the Ravens locker room.

Whatever the case, the defense is figuring it out and it makes the 9-2 Ravens that much more dangerous down the stretch — even with their many flaws that will once again be discussed this week.

It’s not the Ravens’ dominating defense of old, but the unit saved the day on Sunday.

Even if the late-game heroics of Rice and the offense will be what everyone remembers.

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game – Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 20 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Corey Graham intercepts Byron Leftwich pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders on 3rd & 8 (3rd quarter)

4. Corey Graham breaks up Byron Leftwich pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery in endzone (3rd quarter)

3. Brett Keisel defensive offsides negates James Harrison sack on 3rd & 7 (4th quarter)

2. James Ihedigbo sacks Byron Leftich for seven yard loss on 3rd & 11 (4th quarter)

1. Jacoby Jones 63 yard TD return of Drew Butler punt (1st quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Cary Williams

4. Ray Rice

3. James Ihedigbo

2. Anquan Boldin

1. Corey Graham (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Ravens CB Smith out indefinitely after undergoing groin surgery

Posted on 15 November 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 2:55 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ depth at cornerback took another serious hit Thursday after the announcement that 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith has undergone groin surgery in Philadelphia.

Smith sat out Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders after he was unable to loosen up the injured groin during pre-game activities. The 24-year-old was listed as active but was unable to play, prompting coach John Harbaugh to express concern following the game about the need to reevaluate the defensive back earlier this week.

The Ravens say they expect Smith to return before the end of the season.

“That’s a tough loss obviously,” veteran cornerback Corey Graham said. “Jimmy makes a lot of plays for us. He’s been playing here all this year and last year also. It’s big for us, but other guys have to step up. You’ve just got to go out there and make plays and find a way to get it done.”

Smith had replaced top cornerback Lardarius Webb in the starting lineup after the latter tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 14, the same day on which Smith first tweaked his groin. The cornerback had been limited in some practices, but he had never appeared to be in danger of not playing prior to sitting out in Week 10.

Graham is expected to assume starting duties after he played in Smith’s place in the 55-20 win over the Raiders. Second-year cornerback Chykie Brown played in the nickel package as Graham slid inside to cover the slot receiver.

“We’ve got to get the next guy ready and just get ready to go,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I have a lot of confidence in them. They played OK. There were some plays they made and some plays they didn’t make. I think both of them are improving every day, and we’ve got to do a good job of putting them in the right spot.”

To boost their depth in the secondary, the Ravens signed former Oakland cornerback Chris Johnson earlier this week.

The 33-year-old is being brought up to speed quickly and could see action as early as this Sunday despite not even going to training camp with an NFL team this summer. Johnson made 29 starts and recorded eight interceptions for the Raiders from 2007 through last season.

It would be quite a set of circumstances for a debut with the Ravens facing their biggest rival at Heinz Field.

“I’m still catching up myself, but coaches and some of the players have shown me how to do it and what this rivalry is about,” the speedy cornerback said. “They say there’s nothing like Pittsburgh-Baltimore.”

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Ngata, J. Smith sit as Ravens cruise to convincing win over Oakland

Posted on 11 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Even though there was no need to look for a silver lining in the 55-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens were afforded the opportunity to rest injured defensive starters Haloti Ngata and Jimmy Smith a week ahead of their showdown with Pittsburgh next Sunday.

Both players were listed as active but did not play as they sat with nagging injuries. However, the circumstances for each player were different as the Ravens made a concerted effort to sit the Pro Bowl defensive tackle but had to make an adjustment on the fly as Smith’s sore groin would not loosen up during pre-game warmups.

“We decided to dress Haloti,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We are trying to get Haloti healthy. He didn’t practice this week much, but we felt like it would be smart to dress him because he is a difference-maker for us. We started the game out, and we were hoping that we wouldn’t have to play him, and it turned out that we didn’t have to.”

Ngata had seen limited action from his normal workload in each of the Ravens’ last two games and admitted earlier in the week that lingering knee and shoulder injuries are limiting his effectiveness. The seventh-year defensive tackle missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday before participating on a very limited basis during Friday’s workout.

The Ravens can only hope the extra week of rest makes a difference as they’ll need Ngata against a physical Pittsburgh offensive line next week. Following their trip to Pittsburgh, the Ravens then travel to San Diego before welcoming the Steelers to Baltimore on Dec. 2.

Rookie DeAngelo Tyson started at defensive tackle in Ngata’s place, knocking down two passes and registering a quarterback hit in the 35-point victory.

“It really helps to get him some rest,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “We all know that he’s a force in this league, and he’ll be back at 100 percent. Our young guys stepping it up without Haloti is pretty impressive.”

There is growing concern over Smith’s groin injury, an ailment he’s dealt with for several weeks. The second-year cornerback attempted to ride the stationary bike to get loose and attempted to warm up again at halftime but was unable to go.

With temperatures in the low 60s, the weather was perfect for a mid-November game, making Smith’s inability to get warm something to monitor this week.

“We’re going to have to take a hard look at that Monday and just see where he’s at,” Harbaugh said. “This is the first time it has gotten to the point where he just couldn’t get loose enough to play.”

Regular nickel back Corey Graham started in Smith’s cornerback spot while young special-teams standout Chykie Brown entered the game to play cornerback in the nickel package as Graham slid to his normal inside spot.

The Ravens also made an in-game change along the offensive line as Jah Reid replaced veteran Bobbie Williams at left guard on the third series of the game and played the rest of the way. The 36-year-old Williams confirmed after the game he was healthy enough to continue playing, but the lineman has been dealing with an ankle injury sustained in last week’s win at Cleveland.

Baltimore viewed it as an opportunity to rest Williams as well as evaluate Reid, who temporarily replaced an injured Marshal Yanda for a handful of plays last week and has also served as an extra blocking tight end.

“Jah Reid has really been coming on and practicing well,” Harbaugh said. “What Jah needs is playing time. He needs experience, he needs snaps on the field, so it was our plan to start him out there in the third series no matter what and then play him as much as we could.”

Safety Ed Reed suffered a minor stinger in his right shoulder late in the second quarter when he missed the tackle on Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 55-yard touchdown catch, but the veteran returned to action in the second half.

Linebacker Courtney Upshaw also tweaked his shoulder but was not concerned about the injury after the game.

The Ravens officially reported no new injuries following the win.

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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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