Thursday, September 26, 2013

Better Late Than Never...Week Three Review

At least I made it to Week 3 before getting one of my picks wrong.  Hey, I can admit it when I make a mistake.  The young Raven defense impressed me with their win against Houston as they kept the high octane Houston offense from getting off the ground.  Does that make me change my opinion that Baltimore will miss the playoffs?  Nope., but it does make me feel better about the defense.

This picture has nothing to do with the post, I just miss the Fu.

Granted I only watched the first half of the game (thanks hospitality job!) so my thoughts are only based on a half of football where the only consistency on the Baltimore offense was Bryant McKinnie getting face mask penalties. Luckily for Joe Flacco and his cohorts  Matt Schaub lost sight of the underneath coverage and hit Ravens linebacker Daryl Smith right between the numbers.  Smith scampered 37 yards and the Ravens had their first touchdown of the day.  If you want a sign that this is indeed a new Baltimore defense, they managed to score a defensive touchdown without a single lateral.  I’m sure on the other sideline Hobo Ed Reed wept.

Tandon Doss then totally redeemed his horrible preseason by running a punt back and the Texans’ backs were officially broken.  Let’s take a moment to congratulate the prognostication powers of Dan Dierdorf (and his broadcast partner Greg Gumbel totally whiffing on his point)

It’s hard to be critical of an offense that was missing its number one running back, number one tightend and number two wide receiver, but man is it brutal to watch at times.  Flacco is never going to be the efficient, precision passing leader of offense like Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. That’s just not his game.  He’s a big-armed quarterback that relies on his receivers to make difficult catches.  He is, to mix sports metaphors, “wild in the strike zone”.  The ball gets to the general area that it needs to be, but his receivers tend to need to stretch an extra inch or five to make the reception. And THAT is the reason that losing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta at the same time hurts the offense.  At this point, no one on the team has that ability to make the difficult catch consistently.  Heck, they are still working on catching the passes that he does get on the mark (ahem Dallas Clark).

"I totally forgot to up my 401k contribution"

One nice thing about procrastinating this week is that I do get to ignore the rest of the game and mention the Love Bus controversy.  For those of you that block any Ravens related news story it appears some members of the team went out to celebrate McKinnie’s birthday and, allegedly, a minor altercation ensued.

All in all it probably would have escaped TMZ’s attention except for the part where the stripper named Sweet Pea hit Jacoby Jones over the head with an oversized champagne bottle - allegedly. Which is freakin’ allegedly hilarious.  I’m sorry, I’m sure that I’m supposed to be outraged that 20 and 30-year-old men are hanging out with strippers, but I can’t help but laugh.

Let’s look at the bright side.  The only thing brandished was a bottle, no firearms. And no one was drinking and driving. In the world of professional sports this was a downright responsible party. Heck, even if Jones has been concussed by the bottle it wouldn’t have been the wackiest injury of the week in the NFL.  Congratulations go out to Nate Burleson and his pizza-related broken arm for winning that award.

Coach Harbaugh is putting on his best Ward Cleaver face by saying that he was “disappointed” with the reports and that is isn’t something that the players should be “proud of”. Heck, he even dropped the “nothing good happens after midnight” line.  Can you see Harbaugh calling Jones into the office and giving him the, “Jacoby, I’m not mad at you, just disappointed” speech?  Because I can. That’s why we need a HBO 24/7 show on a football team throughout the whole season.

This being the world we live in, the incident didn’t die the quick death it deserved.  On ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown Ray Lewis was asked to comment on the altercation and he spun into a lack of leadership on the team. If there is anyone who knows that nothing good happens after midnight, it’s Ray Lewis.  He does make a valid point - a point that others have made. Who is the leader on this team? Is it laid back Joe Flacco? Terrell Suggs?  While most expect them to be, neither one is particularly suited to being clubhouse leaders.  At least not publicly. What happens behind closed doors no one, including Ray Lewis, knows. My vote for team leader - Justin Tucker, bitches!*

For the record, the team has brushed off any concerns about leadership, Suggs even mentions that they have a “lot of leaders” on the team.  Which might be a bit of a problem.  Too many chefs in the kitchen and all that….

Right now the Ravens are ranked 20th in passing yards and 25th in rushing.  That’s not good enough to get it done.  The defense, which has righted the ship since the Debacle in Denver, needs help.  Even if the offense doesn’t score points, they can’t keep stringing three-and-out drives together.  Even a young defense will get tired out if they’re on the field for too long.

 In the end, the Ravens are 2-1, tied for the division lead with the Bengals and two games clear of the reeling Steelers and one game ahead of the Browns.  With Buffalo up next for them there is a good chance that they finish the first quarter of the season at 3-1, which keeps them in the playoff race….for now.

*The phrase “Justin Tucker, bitches” was created by my sister, lover of kickers and punters, who once asked her husband, “Do you think he gets sad when he throws an interception?” At least that’s how the story goes.

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