Here is the second of two interviews with opposing bloggers, I was contacted earlier this week by Matt Sadler of Baltimore Sports Report and Conoon Kim of The Purple Chaos. You can read my response to Conoon’s questions here. Here’s what Mr. Kim had for me.
1.) How is Joe Flacco’s development in his third year? Another Ravens blogger mentioned Flacco still struggles going through his progressions, what is your assessment of the quarterback?
I think Flacco has been developing extremely well. The reason why some still question his abilities and progression is because the expectations were so high at the start of the season. I constantly see Flacco being compared to Falcons QB Matt Ryan (who is also in his third year) and how he’s a little behind. But to me, that’s fine. There’s a reason why the Ravens tried to give up nearly all their draft picks to move up in the boards to grab Ryan back in 2008— he’s that good.
Flacco was a nobody that wasn’t even supposed to start. 3 years later, he’s now the franchise quarterback that has been setting all types of team passing records. I think it’s easy for people to forget that Flacco was a small town quarterback from Delaware. It’s only natural for people to have high hopes for Flacco given the team’s success in recent years. But me, I’m not worried at all. I couldn’t be happier that the Ravens finally found their quarterback for years to come.
2.) The Ravens feature a very balanced offensive attack, what is one thing that the team doesn’t do as well?
If you mean offensively, then I would have to go with the play-calling. I find myself questioning some of the calls made by Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron. You’re perfectly right, the Ravens do indeed have a very balanced offense. But it seems Cameron didn’t get the memo. He seems a little too pass-heavy, especially after they got Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Donte’ Stallworth.
Once Cameron starts utilizing all 3 backs(Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain), the Ravens will be a force to reckon with.
3.) What is the biggest flaw on the Ravens defense? They’ve struggled against the Bills and given up 120 yards to a third string back lately, are these just anomalies or indicative of bigger issues?
Statistically, the Ravens rush defense (9th in the league) is still ranked better then their pass defense (10th overall). WIth that, the biggest flaw obviously comes from the secondary. The Ravens are lacking in skill and depth at the cornerback position. Even with a monstrous defensive front and Ed Reed lurking in the backfield, I would never trust our cornerbacks left alone in man-coverage with, say, a guy like Mike Williams.
There’s still 6 games left to play. Just like in the game, defense requires patience. By the end of the season, I think the Ravens will rank among the top 5 in at least one of these categories.
4.) What is the key to beating the Ravens?
Simply put, a short-passing attack. As mentioned in my previous answer, the Ravens have weak defensive backs. If Josh Freeman throws quick passes away from Ed Reed, it could be “Achillies heel” of the Ravens.
Screens are another possibility. This would keep the outside linebackers and defensive line on their heels. And with the aging of Ray Lewis, he sure has lost a step. So the key here is to settle for the short-passing game and to be patient. I can also see the play-action causing the corners to bite and open up some deep throws at unexpected moments.
5.) What is your prediction for Sunday?
This will be a tough game for both teams, and it will be very close in the end. I see either team winning by a field goal. But I have to go with the experience and leadership of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed over the youngest team in the NFL. And given how the Bucs have struggled throughout the season against playoff-contending teams, Ravens win this one, 24-21.