Played Like a Raven – Joe Flacco & Ray Rice
The Ravens’ top two draft picks from 2008 are quickly becoming NFL superstars. It was impossible to choose just one of the pair for this week’s honors, as they both played crucial roles in the team’s near-comeback win.
In throwing for 385 yards and 2 touchdowns, Flacco broke his own single-game yardage record that he set in Week 3 against Cleveland. Joe Cool is currently 4th in the NFL with 1674 yards, tied for 4th with 11 touchdown passes, and his 93.8 rating is 11th in the league. Just two small knocks on Flacco this week: First, as he has all season, he got off to a bit of a slow start. Once he figures out what defense are throwing at him, he seems to get into a nice rhythm. Unfortunately, the way the Ravens defense has been playing in 2009, the team may be much better served to get out to an early lead. Second, Flacco may have been a bit too “Cool” at the end of each half, especially the first. I’ll put equal blame on the coaching staff, but with under 2 minutes to play in the second quarter, Flacco was meandering around like he had more like 12 minutes. His 1st-down pass with 12 seconds to go needed to go into the end zone, or fall incomplete, so John Harbaugh wasn’t faced with the decision to kick a FG or not, with only 6 seconds left to work with.
And Ray Rice…damn, that guy is coming into his own with a fury this season. Sunday, he led the team in both rushing and receiving, and his 766 yards from scrimmage currently lead the NFL. His 33 yard touchdown run gave the Ravens their only lead of the day, unfortunately one that they were unable to hold for even 2 minutes of game time thanks to….
Did Not Play Like a Raven – Secondary
Good. Lord. We’ve singled out Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington (also Chris Carr, but that was more return-related) individually here before, but the whole group deserved to be running wind sprints at the Metrodome after Sunday’s game. This now makes 4/5 “Play Like a Ravens” in which we’ve called out Ravens DBs (actually 4/4, considering in Week 3 there was nobody selected).
And don’t think that, based on the photo, Ed Reed is above criticism here at the Nest. He is suspect #1 in leaving Frank Walker to cover Sidney Rice 1-on-1 60 yards down the field two plays after the Ravens took the lead in the 4th. Fact is, though, without Reed, we shudder to think just how atrocious this Ravens defensive backfield has the potential to be. Regardless, we have to think that John Harbaugh will only put up with his freelancing for so much longer, especially after calling him out publicly to play more “team” defense.
Washington, Foxworth, Carr, Walker…what more is there to say about this group? Throw in Dawan Landry as well, who looks thoroughly lost in coverage, and who hasn’t played the run nearly as well as he did prior to his injury last year.
Rookie Ledarius Webb is sure to see some more action as a CB after they bye, but what about at safety? Can Webb take a crack at SS in the NFL? Or can Haruki Nakamura or Tom Zbikowski step in and provide some relief? We would like to think so, but there is a reason they are backups, Ravens fans.
The Ravens are now 22nd in the NFL in passing defense, behind the likes of the Buccaneers, Raiders, and Texans. Fixing (or at least finding a way to mask) the leaks in the secondary is, unquestionably, priority numero uno for B’More during the bye week.