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Ravens open the season one and oh!

Posted on 12 September 2016 by Dennis Koulatsos

 

It was far from pretty and even farther from perfect, but is sure was nice.  After last season’s brutal opening road schedule and dismal 5-11 record, it was indeed downloadvery nice for the Ravens to come out of the gate with a win.

Rex Ryan’s team had a very difficult time moving the ball on the Ravens’ defense, particularly in the opening and final quarter. Shareece Wright was downright amazing, as he finished with 9 tackles, three of them behind the line of scrimmage.  He was also solid in pass coverage.

The communication seemed to be much better for the back end of the defense, in stark comparison to a  year ago.  Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and Wright seemed to be on the same page for the bulk of the game.

According to our friends at Pro Football Focus, Weddle had the highest overall grade on the team, followed by Wright.  On the offensive side of the ball the standouts were QB Joe Flacco, RG Marshall Yanda (penalties aside he was lights out), and Mike Wallace.

The offense looked out of sync at times, but that was to be expected, as this was the first time a lot of the players were on the field at the same time.  Their pace and rhythm should improve as the season matures.

Standouts for the Bills were primarily on the defensive side as LB Preston Brown and rush end Jerry Hughes were generally disruptive and presented the Ravens offensive line with all kinds of problems.  It is also noteworthy that the Ravens started two rookies on the left side, tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Alex Lewis.

The Bills’ offense struggled and their highest graded offensive player was TE Charles Clay.  Tyrod Taylor struggled to find open receivers down field, and was held in check by the Ravens’ defense. Shady McCoy got around the edge a couple of times, but he was also held under wraps without inflicting any significant damage.

The Bills’ coaching staff is getting some criticism this morning by their fan base as well as the media. The narrative is that they got schooled by the Ravens’ coaching staff, pointing out that the Ravens have been in the playoffs 6 out of the last 8 years under coach Harbaugh. Their clock management and untimely personal foul penalties are particularly coming under scrutiny. The undisciplined tag that’s been following Rex Ryan around has reared it’s ugly head once again.

As for the Ravens, for me the biggest red flag was Marc Trestman and his play calling. It was downright maddening to see the team come out time and again on third and short with Flacco in a shotgun formation. For a team that vowed to commit to the run this year, they sure did pass a lot.  The team ran the ball 45% of the time as there were 28 running plays against 34 pass plays.  When you take into account the 4 “runs” that Joe Flacco was given credit for (including game ending kneel-downs in the victory formation) the ratio drops to 41%.

For a team that has a lead blocker and thumper in Kyle Juszczyk, and a back who has displayed great heart and determination in short yardage situations in Terrance West, it defies logic to see both of them on the bench while Flacco is in the gun formation.  Given Flacco’s knee situation, it is crystal clear and understandable that the Ravens have taken the QB sneak out of their playbook.  But there are so many solid and creative things they can do on short yardage situations.  That was evident as I watched the Sunday Night scrum between the Cardinals and the Patriots.  Both offensive coordinators showed multiple looks and formations, and the Ravens would be wise to roll the tape and “borrow” a few things here and there.

For a while there I had to check to make sure that Cam Cameron was still at LSU vs. the Ravens’ sideline. Trestman was run out of Chicago and overwhelmingly the primary gripe from players and fans alike was that his offense was too pass happy. I sure hope coach John Harbaugh intervenes and makes sure that the Ravens game plan is run heavy this week as the team travels to Cleveland.

In a memorable loss to Jacksonville years ago, when Ray Rice carried the ball something like 8 times, I’ll never forget a quote by Terrell Suggs that has stuck with me through the years. After that loss he said that “when you go on the road, you pack your defense and your running game.”  I think that is great advice, and the Ravens need to pay attention here.

Turnovers are hard to overcome in the NFL, particularly on the road when you’re also facing significant crowd noise. Running the ball tends to be easier for an offense to execute.  The Ravens need to force turnovers by Cleveland QBs, whether it’s RGIII (he has a shoulder injury) or Josh McCown, run the ball, play solid defense, and let the game come to them.  Control the ball, control the clock, take the crowd out of the game, and come home two and oh.

 

 

 

 

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Aging Ravens O-Line Cause For Concern?

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Aging Ravens O-Line Cause For Concern?

Posted on 04 July 2012 by melissarubin

They say age makes for experience, but can your age work against you in the rough and tumble sport of football?  According to ESPN’s senior writer, John Clayton, an aging Baltimore Ravens offensive line may work against them.

Clayton recently wrote about his “Theory of 150” for O-Lines.  His theory maintains:

“If a team lets its starting offensive line exceed the total age of 150 years for five starters, the clock is ticking on its remaining success.”

In addition, As with anything, the “Theory of 150” is more relevant for some teams than others. The line is a position group where younger isn’t always better; the fading of speed and athletic ability don’t affect linemen as much as running backs, receivers and other skill positions.

If Clayton is right about his theory, should the Ravens be worried about their aging O-Line? The line consists of Ravens veteran center Matt Birk and recently signed Bobbie Williams, both 35, Bryant McKinnie is 32, while Michael Oher is 26 and Marshall Yanda is 27.

Combined, their ages equal 155, a bit over Clayton’s 150, but it is enough to sound the alarm?

He gives an example of how it was time for the Minnesota Vikings to revamp their O-Line. According to Clayton, last year’s starters had the combined of age of 147. The Vikings made some changes by drafting LT Matt Kahil and moving Charlie Johnson to left guard decreasing the combined age of their O-Line to make them one of the youngest in the NFC North.

This offseason, the Ravens only lost one O-Line player, G Ben Grubbs, who went to New Orleans. The battle to fill Grubbs’ position will take place during training camp and his vacant spot will be filled by a younger player. The battle will be between second-year linemen Jah Reid and Justin Boren and rookies G Kelechi Osemele and C/G Gino Gradkowski.

To the contrary, Oher believes that the O-Line is the best of his career.

“Trust me, people don’t have anything to worry about,” Oher said. “This is the most confident I’ve been in our group. I really like the pieces in our room.”

Pro Bowl guard, Marshall Yanda also believes in the 2012 O-Line adding that there is more depth with this group with the offseason additions to the roster.

“We definitely have enough guys where if someone goes down, or if something happens, then we know we’ll have enough depth,” Yanda said. “It’s early in this thing yet, obviously we haven’t even started training camp yet, so we’ll see what happens. They got enough guys so we can make it work and have a successful line.“

The aging O-Line concerns me, but I’m not overly worried about it. I like that general manager and recruiting genius Ozzie Newsome drafted Osemele and Gradkowski, who stand a chance at starting this season. Both will have the opportunity to learn from their Pro Bowl teammates and I have faith that they can make an impact this season.

And while aging players are more prone to injury, I agree with Yanda, there is enough depth to replace injured players.

The flip side of having an aging O-line is that the wheels are in motion for the Ravens to have a young line in future seasons. Matt Birk is likely to retire after this season and his replacement is likely to one of the rookies. Plus the Ravens are sure to draft more offensive linesmen in the next year converting the aging O-line into a young and rejuvenated one.

What do you think? Should we be concerned about the O-line?

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