Sloppy Ravens have work to do before season opener
The Baltimore Ravens have just over three weeks to smooth out a
variety of flaws, many of which were exposed during a horrid
performance they’re thankful took place in August.
In falling to the Detroit Lions 27-12 on Friday night, Baltimore
(No. 5 in AP Pro32) yielded 507 yards, didn’t score a touchdown,
had a punt blocked and committed penalties on two kick returns for
It was only a preseason game, and the result won’t have any
impact on the Ravens’ bid this season to reach the playoffs for a
fifth consecutive year. But there’s more than a small bit of
concern over an offense that produced only four field goals and a
retooled defense that didn’t get a sack or an interception while
allowing Matthew Stafford to throw for 184 yards and two touchdowns
in four possessions.
”I like where we’re at in some ways and not in others,” coach
John Harbaugh said. ”We’d like to be doing everything great, but
you’re not going to peak really early, and it’s August. We’ve got a
long season in front of us. I think we’re growing in some areas,
but we’re not doing everything we’re going to do.”
The offense chalked up first downs, but not touchdowns. When the
field got short, the Ravens came up short. Baltimore went 2 for 15
on third down, compared to 6 for 14 by the Lions.
”We just need to finish the drives – finish the drives on
defense and get off the field on third downs – make catches, those
kinds of things,” Harbaugh said. ”And, we need to pick up more
In defense of the offense, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice saw
limited action and left tackle Bryant McKinnie is still working
himself into shape after missing the start of camp with a strained
back. Against Detroit, Michael Oher started on the left side,
Kelechi Osemele played right tackle and McKinnie operated with the
”We’re still learning and guys are still getting used to
things, but we’re getting better every day,” Oher insisted.
Fortunately for the Ravens, the Lions and Atlanta Falcons aren’t
on the schedule during the regular season. In the preseason opener,
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had six catches for 109 yards and
a touchdown in only one quarter. It didn’t get any better for
Baltimore against Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, who finished with five
catches for 111 yards and a score.
”We still have to put that work in, especially in the back
end,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. ”We say we want to be the
best, but we have to come out and play like we’re the best. It all
starts in practice. I guarantee you that went we go back to
practice (Sunday), we’re going to work like we’re playing four
Things should improve by the time the Ravens open the season at
home against Cleveland on Sept. 10, if for no other reason some of
the regulars on defense will receive more playing time. Safety Ed
Reed, for instance, started and stuck around only long enough to
work up a sweat.
But the defense, long the Ravens’ strong suit, is a long way
from peaking. First-year coordinator Dean Pees loves to blitz, but
his all-out rush did more harm than good against the Lions. Not
only did Baltimore fail to get to Stafford, but Johnson flourished
while operating against 1-on-1 coverage.
”They were blitzing a lot,” Johnson said. ”When that happens,
they leave their DBs on an island.”
The Ravens emerged from the game without serious injury. Wide
receiver LaQuan Willams and fullback Vonta Leach both had minor
ankle sprained, and linebacker Sergio Kindle sustained a shoulder
”That’s good news,” Harbaugh said.
The bad news: Just about everything else.
”I didn’t like our communication at times on defense, for
instance, especially in the second half with the younger guys,”
Harbaugh said. ”That’s stuff we still need to work on. We’ve got
lots of stuff to work on, but that’s going to continue into
September, October and November once we make our team up. That’s
how football is.”
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and