Tag Archive | "elvis dumervil"

Assessing the Ravens’ offseason veteran additions

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Assessing the Ravens’ offseason veteran additions

Posted on 24 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

At 3-4 and below the .500 mark this late in a season for the first time in the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens face an uphill battle in advancing to the postseason for the sixth straight season.

Clearly at a crossroads as the first defending Super Bowl champion since the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers to hold a losing record after seven games, the Ravens made a number of offseason additions to reload a roster that dealt with free-agent departures, salary-cap casualties, and retirees. It’s time to revisit those moves to see how they’ve worked — or haven’t worked — as the Ravens try to regroup during their bye week.

Grades are included for free-agent signings and trade additions made prior to the start of training camp with the players listed in the order in which they were acquired. Contract terms are listed in parentheses for free-agent additions.

DE Chris Canty (three years, $8 million)
Grade: C+
Skinny: The Ravens needed a 5-technique defensive end and Canty has been solid, but he hasn’t offered as much as a pass rusher as the team would have hoped. Canty is fourth on the team with two sacks, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees has often replaced him with Arthur Jones in the nickel package for improved run support. 

DT Marcus Spears (two years, $2.75 million)
Grade: C-
Skinny: Hamstring and knee injuries have hampered the veteran defensive lineman, but Spears has offered very little when he’s been part of the defensive line rotation and has little pass-rush ability. It would be easy to envision rookie Brandon Williams wrestling away some of Spears’ snaps  in the second half of the season. 

LB Elvis Dumervil (five years, $26 million)
Grade: B+
Skinny: The three-time Pro Bowl selection has been more of a situational player with the run-stopping presence of Courtney Upshaw, but Dumervil has 27 quarterback pressures and is the league’s sixth-most efficient pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus. He had a miserable day in Pittsburgh, but Dumervil has been the bookend pass rusher Terrell Suggs needed and an upgrade over former Raven Paul Kruger for a cheaper price.

S Michael Huff (three years, $6 million)
Grade: F
Skinny: Huff was benched after a disastrous performance in the season opener against Denver, forcing the Ravens to essentially go with two strong safeties in the secondary with James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam. The former Raider hasn’t taken a defensive snap since Week 4 and has brought very little to special teams, making it possible that he doesn’t even make it through the rest of the season before being cut. 

OT Bryant McKinnie (two years, $6.3 million)
Grade: D
Skinny: Though McKinnie was technically re-signed, he spent almost two months on the open market as general manager Ozzie Newsome explored other options at left tackle before inking him in early May. McKinnie wasn’t the biggest problem along the offensive line before the Ravens acquired Eugene Monroe, but the 34-year-old wasn’t motivated to play at a high level after winning a Super Bowl and receiving a $2 million signing bonus, making his signing a clear mistake as he was dealt to Miami for a conditional late-round pick earlier this week.

C A.Q. Shipley (acquired for 2014 conditional draft pick)
Grade: D+
Skinny: Expectations weren’t very high for the former Indianapolis Colt, but it’s telling that Shipley hasn’t been able to unseat the struggling Gino Gradkowski at the center position. Shipley is undersized and is not a great option as a backup interior lineman, so it will be interesting to see if rookie Ryan Jensen leapfrogs him on the depth chart in the second half since he’s recovered from a broken foot suffered in the first week of training camp.

LB Daryl Smith (one year, $1.125 million)
Grade: A
Skinny: Not only did Smith make most people forget the embarrassing decision to sign troubled linebacker Rolando McClain, but he’s easily been the best bargain of the offseason as his signing was an afterthought that came on the same day the Super Bowl champions visited the White House. His two interceptions lead the team and he’s made everyone forget about the serious concerns that existed at inside linebacker during the offseason. Smith isn’t Ray Lewis, but he’s been as solid as a rock in the middle of the defense.

Comments (2)

The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 22 October 2013 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’ 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Bernard Pierce tackled by Lawrence Timmons and Steve McLendon for one yard loss on 3rd & 1 (1st quarter)

You cannot start a 3rd & 1 run five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Oy.

4. Lamar Woodley sacks Joe Flacco for 10 yard loss on 3rd & 8 from Pittsburgh 34 (2nd quarter)

It would have been a long field goal attempt, but I’d rather that than a punt.

3. William Gay breaks up Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones on 3rd & 12 (3rd quarter)

Man did that one really bother me watching the film again Monday. Very close to six.

2. Elvis Dumervil called for unnecessary roughness after Jerricho Cotchery 7 yard catch from Ben Roethlisberger (3rd quarter)

From 2nd & 17 to an eight minute drive.

1. Vince Williams recovers Justin Tucker onside kick attempt, Tucker flagged for illegal touching (4th quarter)

The decision was questionable. The execution was putrid.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

Loss of a dozen starters has really hurt the Ravens

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Loss of a dozen starters has really hurt the Ravens

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Drew Forrester

Everywhere I went on Monday, the question was basically the same:  ”What’s wrong with the Ravens?”

A few folks who asked that of me quickly followed up with, “You shouldn’t be this bad a year after winning the Super Bowl.”

Well, what’s wrong with the Ravens is, in fact, a by-product of winning the Super Bowl in New Orleans last February.

The 2013 edition of John Harbaugh’s team isn’t the same one that won the title in 2012.  Simple, right?  Well, yes, it sort of IS that simple, actually, even though people are always trying to find the “hidden secret” or “untold story” of the team.

Try this simple exercise for a second.  You’re going to have to put your pre-conceived negative opinions of John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice on the side for a moment, because this little game won’t work if you can’t do that.

OK…ready?

I want you to rewind your brain all the way back to last January.  The Ravens have just finished 10-6, won the AFC North, and get to take on the Colts in the first round of the playoffs.  If they win there, their “prize” is a trip to Denver to take on a Peyton Manning team that rocked you in Baltimore a month earlier.  And, if you’re somehow fortunate enough to get past the Broncos, the last remaining hurdle between you and the Super Bowl is a visit to Tom Brady’s house in Foxboro.

Still with me?

OK — the week before the Colts game, a crippling virus races through the Ravens locker room and these ten players are deemed OUT for the remainder of the playoffs:  Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger, Brendon Ayanbedejo, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams and Dennis Pitta.  Add Bryant McKinnie to the mix after Monday’s trade and that makes eleven key players gone. (Keep in mind, as much as people like to beat up McKinnie, the Ravens are 0-2 since they jettisoned him to the bench in favor of Eugene Monroe.)

Could the Ravens have won four straight games in January and February without those eleven players a year ago?

Honestly?

Of course not.  They wouldn’t have moved past Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs given those ten starters missing the game due to the mythical “virus” I described above.

Well — of those eleven players I listed, nine of them were STARTERS from a year ago who haven’t played a single down for the Ravens this season.  McKinnie played 5 of 7 games before they sent him packing on Monday afternoon.

Of the players listed above, only Dennis Pitta remains on the roster, and he’s injured and was unavailable through seven games of 2013.

If you’re looking for the biggest reason why the Ravens are 3-4 at the bye, you just saw ten of them above.  There are, generally speaking, 22 “starters” in any game.  Ayanbedejo wasn’t technically a starter, but he WAS a special teams ace, so I deem him to be an important cog in the machine.  So, ten starters – out of 22 – are gone.  That’s not quite 50%, but it’s a huge chunk of quality missing that needed to be replaced.

(Please see next page)

Comments (6)

Suggs sums it up well with his “emergency” commentary

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Suggs sums it up well with his “emergency” commentary

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Drew Forrester

Terrell Suggs called it a “state of emergency”.

I love it.

That’s why he’s a champion.

Only in Baltimore would two consecutive losses translate to an emergency situation, but that’s the scenario facing the Ravens now as they start the season 3-4 heading into their annual bye week.

I watched Suggs in the locker room after Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh.  He really was, as he said, “disgusted” with the loss to an obviously struggling Steelers team.  It wasn’t acting.  Suggs was truly aggravated.

More players should take the Ravens-Steelers rivalry personally like he does.

Then again, there are only a handful of guys left on the roster who have served the entire Harbaugh-Flacco era and “been there, done that” with regard to the Ravens-Steelers showdowns we see twice – sometimes more – a season.  The games against Pittsburgh over the last six seasons have been wildly memorable.  Some of have ended the Ravens season.  A couple have been so improbable you wished the two teams would play every other week.

There’s nothing worse than losing to the Steelers, particularly when they’re not very good.

That, all by itself, constitutes a state of emergency, I suppose.

————————————————————–

I’m always amazed at how folks who are relatively intelligent and played sports (I assume) as a youth or adult suddenly become stupid when discussing the Ravens.

Time and time again, and it’s going to happen a lot today and this week, watch and see, folks want to pin a loss on ONE person.  They’ll take one play, one moment, one decision, one “thing” and weave that into an outrageous theme that “xxxx cost us the game”.

If you know anything at all about sports, you know that’s just not the way it works.

But, people in Baltimore will gather ’round the water-cooler today and blame Sunday’s loss on Harbaugh – as an example – for calling for an onsides kick with thirteen minutes left in the game.  They’ll conveniently forget how the Steelers previously-horrible running game gashed the Ravens defense for 141 yards.  They’ll dismiss the fact that Elvis Dumervil had two huge penalties on one drive that squarely put Pittsburgh in easy field goal range.  They’ll elect to not remember the kick-off return with 1:58 to play that set-up the game-winning field goal by Shaun Suisham.  And, of course, they won’t give any credit at all to the Steelers, who, as we know, also have players on scholarship — just like the Ravens.

People who aren’t very smart just LOVE to pick out one person and play the blame game.  They did it with Billy Cundiff a couple of years ago in the New England playoff game…when, in fact, it was Lee Evans who cost the Ravens the game with his end zone drop. (See what I did there?)

Citing one person or one play is about the dumbest thing you can do as a sports fan.

I guess the joke’s on me — I’ve been doing this radio thing for twelve “seasons” now.  You assume at some point I’d just figure out that people watch sports, know sports and love sports…but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can opine smartly about sports.

—————————————————

I hope I’m wrong on this one.

I’ll be very happy if I am.

Kelechi Osemele won’t finish the season.

His back, which he admitted after Sunday night’s game will need post-season surgery, isn’t going to hold up much longer.  A lot of national experts have talked about his poor play this season as a connector to the Ravens woeful running game.  That’s fair, I guess, since one of his strengths a year ago was run blocking.  But, his poor play is more about health than anything else.  His back is really bothering him and week by week it’s starting to show more.  The problem?  There’s no one else to throw in there right now.  So, he just keeps on playing.

I hope he’s playing in late December.

But, I don’t see how he will be.

———————————————————–

For those wondering – and it’s a VERY fair question – the game plan was for Justin Tucker to kick the ball out of play on the kick-off that led to the game-winning drive by the Steelers.

He lost his footing on the turf as he drove into the ball, just as he did on the opening kick-off, which almost went of bounds.

That sort of “event”, while unplanned, simply can’t happen in a tight game where you’re trying to pin the opposition on their own 20-yard line.

——————————————————–

Indianapolis, this season, now has wins over San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.

Enough said.

 

 

Comments (3)

Our Ravens/Steelers “Slaps to the Head”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Ravens/Steelers “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 20 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

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

The Ravens fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16 Sunday at Heinz Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I 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. Joe Flacco

4. Jeromy Miles

3. Bernard Pierce

2. Haloti Ngata

1. Elvis Dumervil (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Dolphins

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Dolphins

Posted on 08 October 2013 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’ 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at SunLife Stadium…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Haloti Ngata/Josh Bynes tackle Lamar Miller for no gain on 3rd & 1 (1st quarter)

4. Torrey Smith 22 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 10 (3rd quarter)

3. Tandon Doss catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 2 (4th quarter)

2. Joe Flacco 14 yard run on 3rd & 5 (3rd quarter)

1. Elvis Dumervil sacks Ryan Tannehill at Ravens’ 39 (4th quarter)

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

Our Ravens/Bills “Slaps to the Head”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Ravens/Bills “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 29 September 2013 by WNST Staff

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

The Ravens fell to the Buffalo Bills 23-20 Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I 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. Ray Rice

4. Terrell Suggs

3. Elvis Dumervil

2. Dallas Clark

1. Ed Dickson (Two slaps)

(Ryan’s slaps on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

Defensive picture becoming clearer for Ravens in throwback win

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Defensive picture becoming clearer for Ravens in throwback win

Posted on 22 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — It was fitting for future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to be present Sunday to witness a vintage defensive performance by the Ravens in their 30-9 win over the Houston Texans.

On a day in which the offense once again struggled to move the ball with any level of consistency, the Ravens leaned on their defense to handle the heavy lifting in a way similar to yesteryear when Lewis would dominate in the middle of the defense and Reed would lurk in the secondary. Assuming Lewis’ vacated spot in the defense this season, veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith provided the defensive highlight, picking off a Matt Schaub pass and sprinting 37 yards for the first touchdown of his 10-year career to turn a 6-3 deficit into a lead the Ravens wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the afternoon.

The defensive touchdown was one more than the Texans provided all day as the Ravens have now gone back-to-back games without allowing a touchdown for the first time since 2010.

Just like old times.

“I just remember catching it and just running as fast as I could, trying to get in there,” said Smith, who finished with a game-high 10 tackles. “I’m not a dancer or nothing like that. I just gave them a little something and just went on back to the bench and got ready and lined back up.”

Smith may epitomize this Baltimore defense better than anyone with his unassuming, quiet demeanor, which is a dramatic change from the in-your-face style of Lewis and the bravado of past Ravens defenses. Even the brash Terrell Suggs has quieted down in 2013 as the Ravens move on from the Lewis era while still having high expectations for themselves.

That diminished bravado may have come in handy after the Ravens allowed a franchise-worst 49 points and seven touchdown passes in their humbling 49-27 defeat to the Denver Broncos in the season opener. All the talk of the Ravens having a better defense than a season ago seemed silly after watching Peyton Manning carve up the secondary, but neither the coaching staff nor players panicked after Week 1.

They’ve certainly rebounded in a major way. Shutting down the Cleveland Browns offense is one thing, but holding the Texans to just three field goals will demand attention from future opponents.

“We played better,” said coach John Harbaugh when asked to explain what’s changed for his defense since the big loss to the Broncos. “The biggest difference is [that] we haven’t given up the big plays.”

Dean Pees’ unit held the Houston offense without a play of 20 or more yards on Sunday after giving up nine plays of 20 or more in their season-opening defeat. For the second straight week, the play of the front seven stood out as the Ravens collected three sacks and seven quarterback hits while holding the Texans to 264 total yards overall and only 107 after halftime.

Houston quarterback Matt Schaub finished with only 194 yards on 35 passing attempts as he settled for short-to-intermediate passes for much of the afternoon as veteran wideout Andre Johnson dealt with a leg issue in the second half.

The Texans were just 3-for-12 on third down with no stop bigger than safety James Ihedigbo’s pass breakup of a pass intended for tight end Owen Daniels on third-and-goal from the Baltimore 9 on the opening drive. The play held Houston to a field goal on a 16-play drive and set the tone for what would be an exceptional day for the Ravens defense.

“You’ve got to get off the field on third down, and we did that today,” said defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who collected his first sack of the season on Sunday. “Hopefully that’s something that we’ll continue to be successful at and, really, we just want to continue to get even better in all phases.”

It’s not a perfect defense by any means with some vulnerability in the secondary in which the Texans were either unable or unwilling to test, but the Ravens defense is looking as good as advertised in the summer after two convincing performances to rebound from the debacle in Denver. The strength of this unit is its front seven, which was particularly impressive on Sunday considering defensive end Chris Canty didn’t play and backup nose tackle Terrence Cody exited in the first half.

For the most part, the Ravens have controlled the running game and created consistent pressure on quarterbacks through the first three games of the 2013 season, and that’s a formula to not only help out an imperfect secondary but to keep you in games when your offense is sputtering as it has so far this season.

The Ravens continue to be a work in progress on offense — and that’s putting it kindly after they were held to 236 yards on 57 offensive plays against Houston — but their defense is getting the job done to win games right now. An 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tandon Doss certainly helped, but the defense has paved the way for victory in each of the last two weeks, which is exactly what the Ravens hoped for when they brought in the likes of Elvis Dumervil, Canty, and Smith in the offseason.

“Each week, we want to concentrate on getting better, and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Smith said. “And each week, we’ll grow together, we’ll gain more chemistry, we’ll learn to trust each other more, and I think we’ve done that the last two weeks. We just have to continue to do that.”

Harbaugh and the Ravens can only hope the offense follows suit as it’s difficult to depend on touchdowns by your defense and special teams to put you in position to win every week, but you’ll take a victory however you can earn it against an AFC contender like Houston. The Ravens defense did to the Texans what they’re used to achieving against their opponents — they zapped the life right out of the them as the game progressed.

Questions and concerns continue to remain about the offense and how it will produce enough to put the Ravens in good position to win most games, but the picture is becoming clearer for the defense.

And you have to like what you see.

“We’re not satisfied by any means,” said Suggs, who collected a sack for the third straight game. “We know we’ve still got to work, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Comments (1)

Ravens-Texans: Five predictions for Sunday

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Texans: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 21 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The memory of last year’s 43-13 thrashing is still on the Ravens’ minds as they welcome the Houston Texans to Baltimore for an important early-season showdown in the AFC and an opportunity to exact revenge.

The Ravens are still trying to find their identity on each side of the football while Houston feels fortunate to be 2-0 after earning victories on the final play of each game, including an overtime win over the Tennessee Titans last week.

Sunday will be an emotional day at M&T Bank Stadium as future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor while longtime safety Ed Reed returns to Baltimore as a member of the Houston Texans after departing via free agency in the offseason.

It’s time to go on record as Baltimore and Houston meet for the seventh time in the regular-season series with the Ravens holding a 5-1 edge. These teams met in the 2011 postseason with the Ravens winning a 20-13 final as the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens play the Texans for the fourth straight year in the regular season …

1. Bernard Pierce will grind out 75 tough yards on the ground against a physical Texans front seven and find the end zone once. The expected absence of running back Ray Rice hurts the Ravens offense with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield not at their disposal, but Pierce’s physical running style is better suited against a physical Houston defense that surprisingly ranks 18th against the run (99.5 yards allowed per game) through two games. However, the Ravens’ ability to run the ball will be much more about their offensive line as Baltimore is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry so far this season. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell saw the need to stick with the run in the second half against Cleveland and will use a similar approach against the Texans, but Pierce’s yards per carry average won’t be much better than last week’s 3.0 on 19 carries.

2. The Ravens defense will struggle to cover tight ends for the third straight week as Owen Daniels catches a touchdown from Matt Schaub. Houston wide receivers Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins will keep cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith busy on the outside, but Texans tight ends have caught five touchdown passes in two games this season. It’s no secret that Ravens linebackers and safeties have struggled immensely to cover the middle of the field and Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Schaub will be aware of the deficiency. The expected absence of rookie linebacker Arthur Brown — who played in the nickel last week before suffering a pectoral strain — only hurts the Ravens’ ability in that department as Daniels finds the end zone. Backup tight end Garrett Graham is questionable with a groin injury, but he will need to be watched carefully as well if he plays.

3. With Texans left tackle Duane Brown unlikely to play and the right side of the Houston offensive line suspect, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will each collect a sack. Brown is listed as questionable, but all indications from Houston indicate he will not be able to play on Sunday, giving the Ravens an opportunity to put significant heat on Schaub. The Baltimore pass rush and front seven overall will compete nicely against the Texans upfront, keeping the Ravens in the game throughout the day against a unit that will try to run the football with Arian Foster and Ben Tate and move the chains with the intermediate passing game. Suggs matching up against backup left tackle Ryan Harris and Dumervil going against right tackle Derek Newton will add up to another big day for the pass-rushing duo and the third straight game in which they’ve each collected a sack.

4. Reed won’t make a significant impact, but the Houston defense will be in Joe Flacco’s face too much on Sunday. I’d be surprised if Reed didn’t play on Sunday, but a 35-year-old safety coming off his second major hip surgery in four years and acknowledging that he’s not 100 percent shouldn’t create much fear in Flacco’s mind as long as the quarterback doesn’t sleep on Reed’s cerebral presence in the secondary. However, the Ravens need their offensive line to begin playing like it did in last year’s postseason with the shortage of offensive weapons at Flacco’s disposal. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie and left guard Kelechi Osemele both struggled in Week 2, and the challenge is only greater for the line this week against the likes of left defensive end and 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt — who will also move around on the defensive line — as well as other pass rushers all over the place in Wade Phillips’ defense. The Texans were just too fast for Flacco and the Ravens offense in last year’s blowout and the offensive line will have a major challenge once again on Sunday. Pressure upfront will only help a Houston pass defense that’s thrived early this season against underwhelming offenses.

5. With Rice and Jacoby Jones sidelined, the Ravens will simply lack enough offensive firepower to overcome a balanced Texans team in a 21-16 loss. As difficult as it is to bet against the Ravens in Baltimore, nothing about their offense through two weeks suggests they’re ready to beat one of the big boys in the conference and the absence of Rice and Jones significantly hurts their speed on offense. A strength last season, the vertical passing game has been nonexistent with Torrey Smith facing bracketed coverage, and rookie Marlon Brown won’t find life as easy against the cornerback duo of Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. The defense is certainly good enough to make some stops and limit the Texans’ scoring opportunities to keep the Ravens in the game, but the offense just won’t produce enough big plays with Flacco facing pressure and unable to rely on enough targets in the passing game.

Comments (2)

Ravens’ depth, versatility paying off at outside linebacker

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens’ depth, versatility paying off at outside linebacker

Posted on 17 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Though the Ravens’ 1-1 start has been anything but seamless, the hype surrounding the pass-rushing combination of Terrell Suggs and free-agent acquisition Elvis Dumervil has been justified for the Baltimore defense.

Entering the 2013 season with eight Pro Bowl selections and 148 quarterback sacks between them, Suggs and Dumervil have collected a combined four sacks and 10 quarterback hits in their first two weeks together. Considering the money and resources invested by general manager Ozzie Newsome at the outside linebacker position, you expect that kind of production, but another reason to feel optimistic about Suggs, who will turn 31 next month, and the 29-year-old Dumervil being productive over the entire 16-game regular season is the depth and versatility behind them in the Baltimore defense.

With younger players such as Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee spelling the veterans in certain situations, it decreases their total number of opportunities to rack up sacks and pressures but provides an ability to maximize their production when they are on the field. Both Suggs and Dumervil have welcomed younger players receiving opportunities defensively.

“That’s a good thing. You want guys getting after it,” Suggs said following Sunday’s win. “Everybody’s fighting for it.”

With Cleveland expected to establish the running game as opposed to Denver’s wide-open passing attack from Week 1, it was no surprise to see Upshaw start the game at the strong-side linebacker position with Dumervil on the sideline. Ideally, Dumervil is better suited for Suggs’ rush linebacker position than the Sam linebacker spot responsible for setting the edge and focusing more on stopping the run.

Upshaw played 42 of the Ravens’ 63 defensive snaps against the Browns while Dumervil was on the field for 39 plays. This didn’t prevent Dumervil from being a major thorn in the side of Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden as he collected a sack, three quarterback hits, and two hurries in 28 pass-rush situations, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Upshaw was a major part of a run defense that limited the Browns to just 3.3 yards per carry and 65 yards on the ground.

“Upshaw is a hell of a player, and he’s only [in] year two, so the sky is the limit for him,” Dumervil said prior to the start of the season. “I think the staff does a great job of putting guys where it’s suited best for them, and as a player, you have to be respectful towards what is trying to be accomplished.”

Dumervil wasn’t the only standout linebacker to receive some rest over the course of the game as Suggs took 49 defensive snaps and third-year pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee participated in 20, often spelling Suggs at his rush linebacker spot. McPhee was converted to outside linebacker in the offseason and while he lacks the skill set of Suggs against the run and in pass coverage, the position change allowed him to shed some weight to take some pressure off his problematic knees and to help keep the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year fresh over the course of games when possible.

Of course, there will be occasions against tougher competition in which the Ravens will lean more heavily on Suggs and Dumervil, but the ability for defensive coordinator Dean Pees to lighten the workload of his veteran outside linebackers will keep them more productive down the stretch when the Ravens will need them at their best.

Dead end with tight ends

The tight end position has been a hot topic for discussion ever since starter Dennis Pitta went down with a serious hip injury in the first week of training camp, and there are no indications that the problem is being fixed until his potential return late this season.

The Ravens showed their level of concern by working out free-agent tight ends Jake Ballard and Matt Mulligan after the season opener, but it’s difficult to expect any addition off the street to make a significant impact. Ed Dickson has struggled mightily to catch the football while 34-year-old Dallas Clark has looked slow running routes and dropped a sure touchdown right before halftime in the Week 1 loss at Denver.

“Those guys need to be a big part of what we are doing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They are fully capable of making catches. Ed should be a big-play guy up the seam, over routes, and all those kinds of things. We need to get Ed going.”

On paper and in practices, Dickson looks like the prototypical tight end with size, good speed, and strong blocking ability, but trying to cure the mental issue of having a case of the drops isn’t easy. After Dickson dropped a Joe Flacco pass that would have been a nice gain over the middle of the field on the first play of the game on Sunday, the quarterback didn’t target him again.

It spoke volumes for both Dickson and Clark that No. 3 tight end Billy Bajema — known mostly for his blocking — turned in the best performance of the day by making an 18-yard reception. Whether we see more of him, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, or the eventual promotion of Matt Furstenburg from the practice squad, the Ravens need to see improvement from the tight end spot considering the similar questions facing the wide receiver position.

In two games this season, Ravens tight ends have combined for 10 catches and 126 yards. In comparison, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham had eight catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in the first half of the Saints’ win against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

That type of production from their tight ends in two games just simply isn’t enough in the modern NFL.

Running game concerns

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

Comments (0)