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Thoughts on Week 4: The Travesty at Buffalo

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Injuries:

Lardarius Webb - thigh strain

Albert McClellan - shoulder. To be MRI'd

Deonte Thompson - concussion

Marlon Brown - thigh strain

Negatives:

1) Offensive line: looks terrible. Absolutely no push on running plays. The holes don't look to be there. No running game allows teams to focus on just rushing Flacco and give more attention to Torrey (I can't believe he had as big of a game as he did).

2) Decision making/play calling: I'm bunching these together. Joe obviously made some bad decisions on throws today. But what bothered me even more was his decisions and/or the play calls in situations. 1st and 5 and we don't call a play that may help us pick up those short 5 yards. 3rd down in the redzone and you throw a jump ball to Ray Rice in the back of the endzone? Where are the RBs in the intermediate/short passing game? I don't like checking down on every play but it has its value. I saw some crossing routes but didn't see any real checkdown to a RB today.

All we needed on the last drive was a FG to tie it up. Instead Joe is just throwing a bomb on second down to no one in particular.

I know we weren't running but I don't think we can completely abandon the run like we did in a game where the score isn't all that out of hand and where Joe is clearly struggling.

3) Receivers: acouple guys stepped up but Doss, Dickson and Clark are really killing us. You can't really trust their hands. Additionally, I like what Marlon Brown has done for an undrafted guy and think he will be useful but I don't think he creates much separation.

4) Run defense: they stiffened up a little in the second half but it was still too easy. At first it looked like their offense was going to be able to walk up and down the field all day as they were running it and Manuel was throwing the ball much better than I expected. Manuel cooled down though but the run D was still too weak.

Positives:

1) We played terribly and still could have easily won. I know you can view this in two ways and say that we were lucky to even be as close as we were but lets try to spin something positive out of this performance.

2) A few WRs making plays. Sure the receivers as a whole are a big question mark but a few guys showed up this week. Thompson and Marlon Brown both made huge plays today. They are part of a weak receiving core but Brown's TD was strong play and Thompson caught everything thrown his way today.

Torrey Smith continues to be able to burn guys deep. Amazing that this still happens IMO but its nice. He is developing every week and is on pace for over 1700 yards.

3) While the defense was not good overall today they did seem to adjust as the day went on and stayed pretty strong in the redzone.

Edited by Baltoravensrule

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The running game is a problem. Running backs are a dime a dozen. You could probably count the players on one hand who can create their own space in the NFL. It's all about the Offensive Line.

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My initial instinct is that Juan Castillo and his zone blocking scheme has got to go. We have to let our OL get up on their guys and overwhelm then one on one. This scheme just isn't working. There is literally no room in the gaps on the line and those guys are losing their confidence quickly in the play call and in execution. Something needs to happen.

Also, Gino Gradkowski is starting to stick out to me. He doesn't do anything bad, but he never is getting push, he isn't winning his one on one battles, he isn't athletic enough to be a pulling OL (and it's not like we'd pull anyway).

We need to do more than crossing routes on offense. Especially with guys out there that (a) can't get separation and (b) just don't have enough experience to be smart on the picks and rubs and where they need to go around zone coverages.

Joe just need to make better decisions. Flat out. It's already been said but where are the check downs? He has zero safety valves, they need to let Rice release and be a receiving option there and Joe needs to start going back to that because Rice has some of the strongest hands on the team.

I still think Josh Bynes isn't holding his lanes. And it's killing this team on the cut backs. I know that he wants to make an impact, but if you can't hold that back end contain then we're screwed. At least 4 runs he over pursued, the RBs stayed patient and a huge gap was exposed. He's also awful in pass protection. I really could live without him.

I really like what Upshaw is bringing to the table. Just quietly turning into Jarret Johnson in doing a bit of everything and always having value on the field. Ditto for Smith. Not every CB is gonna win every battle especially with teams coming after you so much. But I think he's really improving. Deonte Thompson also showed some flashes today.

Graham doesn't look like a starting caliber CB. Our safeties were pretty not an impact in this game and it felt like there were a few plays where Buffalo caught us without someone deep. Clark, Dickson and Doss are all pretty much useless if you ask me as well.

The coaches need to get it together though. I put this loss on them. Fix the O-Line. Fix the running game. Find ways to get more creative on offense that are going to get guys open if they can't create their own separation. Stop packing the middle of the field. Spread this offense out a bit. And cut out all that crap fancy motion that never does anything. Come on Caldwell, show me something. Or you'll be on my Cameron list.

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Well there is no way to sugar coat that game yesterday. The offense was just brutal, brutal, brutal and the defense broke a bit too much before making some solid second half corrections.

Good:

- Torrey Smith was obviously the best player on offense for the Ravens, but even he failed to fight for a ball in the end zone and was unable to pull away on a bomb that he caught basically in stride that cost us four points.

- Suggs was all over the place and that last penalty call was BS. He played hard.

- Tucker nailed his FGs and Koch was very good on his punts.

Mediocre:

- The secondary was much better in the second half after a tough beginning, but overall they were solid after a rough start. They had some miss calls that luckily did not go against us when the Bills failed to connect on several open receivers.

Bad: (where to start)

- Ed Dickson needs to be cut. He might be a good guy but he may have the worse hands I've ever seen at the NFL level. Whether it's mental or physical, he can't be trusted anymore.

- Flacco was bad today. Yes, his O-line sucked and his receivers sucked, but he made poor decisions and three of his five interceptions were his fault. His drive late in the game when we needed just 15 more yards for a good shot at a game-tying FG was ridiculously poor. The throw off his back foot 40 yards downfield was something a rookie would do. Joe is proving this year that he does not elevate others around him like say a Manning or Brady does. That's makes him significantly overpaid and unless he turns this around, I can see the Ravens drafting a potential replacement in next year's draft knowing how much his contract will balloon in a few years.

- Dallas Clark is done as an effective TE. It's not rust anymore, he's just not very good. He's way too slow, can't get separation, and his hands are inconsistent.

- The O-line was terrible in just about everything but especially in run blocking. Castillo should be fired after what's happened to the run game since he was hired. How did all of our lineman forget how to run block? Hell, even Yanda has not been good this year.

- Caldwell needs to take a huge part of the blame here as well. He has totally and utterly misused Ray Rice this season. Where are Ray's receptions in space? Where are the screens? Why are we running him on crossing routes in the end zone when that should be tall receiver that allows Joe to throw that ball high? Caldwell's offense is bland, ineffective, and the players have totally looked out of synch all season. Unless Flacco's hit his bombs, the offense sputters.

- Harbaugh's clock management at the end of the half was just plain dumb. Why not take a time out and go for the 1st down? Why not try and go for a FG? He played it conservatively and it cost us a bit.

- Josh Bynes is terrible this season. If Simon or Brown are unable to unseat this guy then I don't know what to say about them. He loves to arm tackle and it's usually five yards after the LOS.

- Dumervil has not been very good and yesterday besides a nice play on a run, he was quiet again. He certainly is not the presence the Ravens thought they were getting, or at least not so far. He looks like he has lost a step in speed.

- Ngata will have to step up his game considerably the rest of the season or he will be a salary cap casualty this offseason. He is not playing anywhere near his contract.

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Throw in the reffing as terrible. In addition to the terribly wrong Suggs personal foul to end the game, they missed a bunch of late hits on Joe, and under no circumstances should calls be overturned 3 times in a game. That means they were wrong at least three times. Terrible. And this is coming from a guy who loves Bulger. (actually, I love Jeremy's impression of Bulger!)

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- Flacco was bad today. Yes, his O-line sucked and his receivers sucked, but he made poor decisions and three of his five interceptions were his fault. His drive late in the game when we needed just 15 more yards for a good shot at a game-tying FG was ridiculously poor. The throw off his back foot 40 yards downfield was something a rookie would do. Joe is proving this year that he does not elevate others around him like say a Manning or Brady does. That's makes him significantly overpaid and unless he turns this around, I can see the Ravens drafting a potential replacement in next year's draft knowing how much his contract will balloon in a few years.

Uh what?? The guy has one bad game and you are ready to draft his replacement. Come on Man!!!!

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And yet, Tony, you wouldn't have thought that we lost by just 3.

I agree with a lot of what you said and posted over in the Run Down thread, which you may want to merge with this one, I said some things that you also said. But a few quick off hand thoughts.

(1) Brown isn't healthy right now. When he comes back I expect him to become a full time player. If Smith is going to overpursue we need someone in there with the speed to keep players from getting to the edge or executing a full cut back so easily. He'll also help in the passing game.

(2) Jimmie Smith needs some credit for stepping up. He's made some nice plays and Graham in a starting role still hurts us. Webb's injury makes a big difference for this team. Not only for the passing, but for physicality on the edge and cut backs as well.

(3) Flacco's game wasn't great, but this game plan clearly isn't tailored to his strengths. We still see him being forced into reverse roll out's to his left. Guys like Brady and Manning would never run these plays and wouldn't be forced to either. Also, Brady and Manning are both getting much much much better protection.

If you don't think that Flacco has elevated Marlon Brown's game and Torrey Smith's game we're looking at different guys. There are probably only 6-8 guys in the league that could throw some of the deep balls that went to Smith the way Joe does. If Pitta was healthy, I think the Ravens win this game by a fairly substantial margin.

The OL has been awful, Joe is getting smacked around like crazy and his receivers are dropping passes that are converting to INTs. And where the heck is the no huddle/sugar huddle? If we're going to commit to passing it 30 times in a half, why not wear the other team out. Spread them out, get the guys inside tired, and slow down that pass rush by making guys get in stances at the LOS for 20 seconds.

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Uh what?? The guy has one bad game and you are ready to draft his replacement. Come on Man!!!!

Yeah, the comment about no elevating the guys around him is a little rough too. First Boldin and Pitta go down. Then the replacements start going down, including Jacoby and Stokely. I mean, the guy has ONE known commodity in Torrey Smith. Is it Joe's fault that Dickson couldn't catch a cold? Is it Joe's fault that the guys run the wrong routes? Is it Joe's fault that he got hit on 15 of his drop backs? Joe was not good yesterday, but saying he is not elevating the guys around him is just not fair.

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Uh what?? The guy has one bad game and you are ready to draft his replacement. Come on Man!!!!

You are missing the point. Joe's contract balloons to a huge number in three years. From what I've seen so far, Joe is not able to make the player's around him better and if he can't be a guy who can drive a team 15 yards in the 4th quarter against Buffalo, then he's not a guy going to be worth that kind of money. So, what I'm saying is you draft his replacement by getting a guy who can sit the bench for a few years and then be ready to take over. This does not mean I think he should be replaced next year, it means if I'm the Ravens, I'm looking for a cheaper alternative if Flacco is unable to play at an elite level. Being a strong armed guy who can make some great throws is not going to be worth having no weapons around him in a few years when the contract balloons.

I like Flacco overall and I'm willing to ride out these bad games, but elite QBs don't throw 5 interceptions (3 on him) against a secondary that was missing many of their starters. Joe should of had a field day and yes, he's not getting much help from his receivers, but the elite guys make it happen late, they don't throw bombs off their back foot 40 yards down field when his team needs 15 yards for a game-tying FG. That is a rookie mistake and something Joe should not be doing at this stage in his career.

All good teams have replacements ready once their franchise QB gets expensive. Well, Joe got real expensive and will become even more so in three seasons. Better to be safe than sorry.

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And yet, Tony, you wouldn't have thought that we lost by just 3.

I agree with a lot of what you said and posted over in the Run Down thread, which you may want to merge with this one, I said some things that you also said. But a few quick off hand thoughts.

(1) Brown isn't healthy right now. When he comes back I expect him to become a full time player. If Smith is going to overpursue we need someone in there with the speed to keep players from getting to the edge or executing a full cut back so easily. He'll also help in the passing game.

(2) Jimmie Smith needs some credit for stepping up. He's made some nice plays and Graham in a starting role still hurts us. Webb's injury makes a big difference for this team. Not only for the passing, but for physicality on the edge and cut backs as well.

(3) Flacco's game wasn't great, but this game plan clearly isn't tailored to his strengths. We still see him being forced into reverse roll out's to his left. Guys like Brady and Manning would never run these plays and wouldn't be forced to either. Also, Brady and Manning are both getting much much much better protection.

If you don't think that Flacco has elevated Marlon Brown's game and Torrey Smith's game we're looking at different guys. There are probably only 6-8 guys in the league that could throw some of the deep balls that went to Smith the way Joe does. If Pitta was healthy, I think the Ravens win this game by a fairly substantial margin.

The OL has been awful, Joe is getting smacked around like crazy and his receivers are dropping passes that are converting to INTs. And where the heck is the no huddle/sugar huddle? If we're going to commit to passing it 30 times in a half, why not wear the other team out. Spread them out, get the guys inside tired, and slow down that pass rush by making guys get in stances at the LOS for 20 seconds.

You can't keep making excuses for Flacco. His training wheels are off. He's being paid like an elite QB and he should not be making the same mistakes that we saw yesterday. I completely agree that Joe can make any throw on the field, but his decision making process is still below average. He took ten steps back for me yesterday when he was given a chance to tie or win the game and he starts panicking and throwing bombs off his back foot. That was ridiculous to see and if Flacco is still this guy at this stage, then maybe we over estimated what he brought to this team based off a great post season last year.

Look at what Brady or Manning can do with guys. They can take no names or under achievers and make them into 90+ catch guys. Sure, Joe does not have a lot of weapons to go to, and that's a huge problem for this team. Losing Pitta was HUGE because it was Joe's last security blanket.

You guys can make all the excuses in the world for him, but the elite guys that are on the 50 yard line with more than a minute to go with two timeouts don't throw bombs off their back foot. Eliet guys know they need 15 yards and they throw the appropriate passes to get those yards. We saw Joe at his best last post season, and now we're season regular season Joe. Regular season Joe just makes some of the most bone-headed plays and seems more worried about padding his stats instead of getting the appropriate amount o yards needed.

Same goes with the 3rd and five throws. Joe must be the only QB I've seen who consistently throws 12-18 yards passes on 3rd and five. Maybe that's the call, but I have to imagine their are routes designed to pick up that first down.

The O-line and his receivers were bad yesterday for the most part, but when Joe had his chances, he failed too many times for a guy being paid the way he's paid.

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Yeah, the comment about no elevating the guys around him is a little rough too. First Boldin and Pitta go down. Then the replacements start going down, including Jacoby and Stokely. I mean, the guy has ONE known commodity in Torrey Smith. Is it Joe's fault that Dickson couldn't catch a cold? Is it Joe's fault that the guys run the wrong routes? Is it Joe's fault that he got hit on 15 of his drop backs? Joe was not good yesterday, but saying he is not elevating the guys around him is just not fair.

Was it Joe's fault for throwing three of the five interceptions? yes! Was it Joe's fault that he threw a bomb off his back foot when he needed 15 yards for a game tying FG? Was it Joe's fault he took a sack when the rusher came off the blocker from the front right of Joe? You really need to think a little more critically. I know you always side on the players side (you do this with the Orioles as well), but soemtimes you need to look at things critically and not just make excuses for your "favorite" players.

Maybe It's because I don't have "favorite players," but I refuse to sit back and think up excuses for a guys getting paid to be elite. When you are elite, you drive your team 15 freakin' yards and get the game tying FG. Joe failed yesterday with giant "F" no matter how many excuses you come up with. He was not the only reason we lost, but he sure as hell contributed with his poor play. Elite guys figure out how to win with what they got, not throw five interceptions into a Buffalo secondary that was starting 2nd and 3rd stringers.

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You are missing the point. Joe's contract balloons to a huge number in three years. From what I've seen so far, Joe is not able to make the player's around him better and if he can't be a guy who can drive a team 15 yards in the 4th quarter against Buffalo, then he's not a guy going to be worth that kind of money. So, what I'm saying is you draft his replacement by getting a guy who can sit the bench for a few years and then be ready to take over. This does not mean I think he should be replaced next year, it means if I'm the Ravens, I'm looking for a cheaper alternative if Flacco is unable to play at an elite level. Being a strong armed guy who can make some great throws is not going to be worth having no weapons around him in a few years when the contract balloons.

I like Flacco overall and I'm willing to ride out these bad games, but elite QBs don't throw 5 interceptions (3 on him) against a secondary that was missing many of their starters. Joe should of had a field day and yes, he's not getting much help from his receivers, but the elite guys make it happen late, they don't throw bombs off their back foot 40 yards down field when his team needs 15 yards for a game-tying FG. That is a rookie mistake and something Joe should not be doing at this stage in his career.

All good teams have replacements ready once their franchise QB gets expensive. Well, Joe got real expensive and will become even more so in three seasons. Better to be safe than sorry.

Was Joe "elite" when Lee Evans dropped a ball that would have put us in the SuperBowl? Was that Joe's fault? Or how about when Cundiff blew the kick? Or is it Joe's fault that we couldn't run the ball in the first half, and didn't even try in the second? Should Joe be able to elevate the play of not only his lousy receivers, but also the O-Line and the running backs? Is that who Joe should elevate?

Are Favre, Brees, and Manning elite? Because they have all had 5 interception games. Brady has had 5 games where he threw 4 interceptions. Is he elite? This was one bad game, and considering the problems with this offense, it wasn't even entirely THAT bad. I agree in 2 years Joe will be too expensive, but not because he isn't performing well, he's just too expensive, period. We'll see if Joe reworks that deal like Manning and Brady have done in the past, or if he's bound and determined to hold onto that money. Time will tell there. But for now, I think Joe gets WAY too much of the blame when this team loses.

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You can't keep making excuses for Flacco. His training wheels are off. He's being paid like an elite QB and he should not be making the same mistakes that we saw yesterday. I completely agree that Joe can make any throw on the field, but his decision making process is still below average. He took ten steps back for me yesterday when he was given a chance to tie or win the game and he starts panicking and throwing bombs off his back foot. That was ridiculous to see and if Flacco is still this guy at this stage, then maybe we over estimated what he brought to this team based off a great post season last year.

Look at what Brady or Manning can do with guys. They can take no names or under achievers and make them into 90+ catch guys. Sure, Joe does not have a lot of weapons to go to, and that's a huge problem for this team. Losing Pitta was HUGE because it was Joe's last security blanket.

You guys can make all the excuses in the world for him, but the elite guys that are on the 50 yard line with more than a minute to go with two timeouts don't throw bombs off their back foot. Eliet guys know they need 15 yards and they throw the appropriate passes to get those yards. We saw Joe at his best last post season, and now we're season regular season Joe. Regular season Joe just makes some of the most bone-headed plays and seems more worried about padding his stats instead of getting the appropriate amount o yards needed.

Same goes with the 3rd and five throws. Joe must be the only QB I've seen who consistently throws 12-18 yards passes on 3rd and five. Maybe that's the call, but I have to imagine their are routes designed to pick up that first down.

The O-line and his receivers were bad yesterday for the most part, but when Joe had his chances, he failed too many times for a guy being paid the way he's paid.

Tony, I love ya man, but this is some kind of poor post. Maybe the reason Joe throws bombs so much is because he's sick of people dropping balls across the middle or on short posts. And as for throwing for 12 when we need 2 yards. Yes, he does that, but more times than not, his receivers run 3 yard routes when we need 7. That's on the receivers, not Joe.

We're just gonna have to disagree on this. Joe isn't Manning or Brees or Brady, but he's a good QB who has proven 5 straight years that he can and does get the job done.

How about we start talking about Ray Rice and his 12 million he's gonna be owed next year? Is Ray Rice a 12 million dollar back? Hell No.

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Was it Joe's fault for throwing three of the five interceptions? yes! Was it Joe's fault that he threw a bomb off his back foot when he needed 15 yards for a game tying FG? Was it Joe's fault he took a sack when the rusher came off the blocker from the front right of Joe? You really need to think a little more critically. I know you always side on the players side (you do this with the Orioles as well), but soemtimes you need to look at things critically and not just make excuses for your "favorite" players.

Maybe It's because I don't have "favorite players," but I refuse to sit back and think up excuses for a guys getting paid to be elite. When you are elite, you drive your team 15 freakin' yards and get the game tying FG. Joe failed yesterday with giant "F" no matter how many excuses you come up with. He was not the only reason we lost, but he sure as hell contributed with his poor play. Elite guys figure out how to win with what they got, not throw five interceptions into a Buffalo secondary that was starting 2nd and 3rd stringers.

Damn. Okay, few points.

1. Yes, I have my favorites, but when it comes to football, its a bunch of guys in helmets to me. I've been the one bashing Ray Rice, and who keeps coming to his defense? Oh yeah, that would be you!

2. You keep mentioning the 15 yards needed yesterday. So lets say instead of the bomb, Joe threw to one of the helmets who couldn't catch a cold, and they dropped a 16 yarder that would have been a first down. I guess that would have been Joe's fault for not elevating them?

3. This was a regular season game against a much improved Bills team who could easily be 3-1 or 4-0 right now. And we lost and Joe played bad. But was he elite when we won the friggin SUPER BOWL 9 months ago, in a game that mattered? Yes, I think he was. I'll take a SB win over a bad game in September. And as I pointed out in another post, even your "elite" quarterbacks, Hall of Famers, have crappy games.

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Without bashing Flacco, it would be beneficial to the Ravens to have another proven body at QB position, if nothing more, for injuries.

Dolphins won a Super Bowl with an over the hill aged veteran on the bench that was able to come in and play.

The Redskins beat Denver with the veteran Doug Williams who had become the starter at the end of the season, with the first string went down.

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