What a difference a week makes.
The Ravens were reminded of how tough life in the NFL can be after getting kicked in the mouth by the Tennessee Titans today. These Titans are not the same team that they knocked out of the playoffs a few years ago. This is a young rebuilding team with an old hand at Quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck and a young stud wideout in Kenny Britt but had supposedly their best offensive weapon still trying to get back into game shape in Chris Johnson.
Which is what makes this game so perplexing. How could the Ravens play so well in the season opener yet play so uninspired today? John Harbaugh tried to dismiss any notion of a Pittsburgh hangover this week but it’s clear that a lack of intensity and execution were two of the culprits today in defeat.
On to more thoughts from today’s loss.
- I apologize now to any Titans fans if this seems disrespectful but the Ravens simply should not have lost by 13 points to Tennessee. I’m not saying your team didn’t earn it. They beat Baltimore on both sides of the ball and made plenty of plays and deserve to enjoy your first win of 2011. But the Ravens have way too much talent to phone in an effort like today. John Harbaugh can spin it any way he likes. There are plenty of other words I can use instead to describe today’s game without using the term letdown. Most are of the four-letter variety.
- The Secondary missed Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr. Domonique Foxworth simply isn’t up to speed yet and remember that Cary Williams is a de-facto rookie starting in his first season. If you allow a veteran like Hasselbeck time he can still burn you. And he scorched the Ravens today. I’m hoping that Carr is able to solve his hamstring issues because even though he may not be flashy he’s a steady player who can cover and tackle very well.
- This Ravens offense looked like the 2010 edition. The offensive line was bad. Ben Grubbs, who was inactive for the first time in his career was sorely missed. Mark LeVoir got worked today. I’m wondering why Andre Gurode didn’t get the call instead? They rarely took shots downfield. Joe Flacco was flustered and pressured and reverted back to bad habits with his footwork. Ray Rice had little room to operate and his lone touchdown was a result of his elusive moves. The game plan felt predictable, often choosing to run off Guard on First Down and being forced in Third and Long situations. Not much imagination there Mr. Cameron.
- The Ravens defense looked more like the 2010 edition. The pass rush was non-existent and when Pagano called for a blitz the Titans picked it up almost every time. How do not even register one sack today? In fact, Matt Hasselbeck was barely bothered all game and had time to make some very good throws and expose the secondary. Haloti Ngata still looked impressive and batted down two passes.
- The Ravens committed 7 penalties today for 44 yards, most of which were attributed to the Offense. Michael Oher had two False starts today but the worst penalty was the Delay of Game that preceded the controversial Field Goal try.
- Speaking of which, Coach Harbaugh is really going to have to work the coachspeak to get me to accept why, with the Ravens down two scores, he settled for a Field Goal with six minutes remaining in the game. The Offense struggled all day and that was your only chance to get back in the game to possibly pull out a win. It didn’t matter since the Ravens wouldn’t be able to get the ball back as the Titans picked up several First Downs to get a last Field Goal to cap the victory. Where’s all the aggressiveness and bravado this week Coach? Instead like the game plan he played it safe. Speaking of the game plan all the coaches have to get a failing grade today – this team was not prepared to play.
- Ray Rice led all Baltimore receivers with Five catches. I’m all for getting the ball to your best offensive player but the Ravens were unable to spread the ball around as they did last week. The call for Tandon Doss gets louder as both David Reed and Torrey Smith both failed to get on the stat sheet.
- With receivers in mind Kenny Britt is a rising star in this league. Hasselbeck repeatedly targeted him and he delivered time and again. I wonder why the Ravens didn’t press up on him more and get physical with him since it always seemed like he had a cushion of five yards or more in front.
- Speaking of Britt I had to laugh out loud at the “analysis” handed out by Steve Tasker during today’s telecast. He called Britt an “honest human being” and asked that people not judge because of a few scrapes with police. Excuse me? His scrapes include felony charges, car chases and drugs. I’ll draw my own conclusions for now thanks.
- The Flacco bashers will have ammo this week. But he was running for his life most of the afternoon and could have used a big catch from Anquan Boldin in the endzone to help matters. If anything we’ve learned that he’s a traditional pocket passer with sneaky mobility and if you give him time to scan the field he’ll make throws. Otherwise he can be forced into mistakes (Two INTS) and just bad throws.
- (EXTRA POINT) The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Those that were ready to buy Super Bowl tickets last week will be crying all week long about how this team sucks and that all the coaches should be fired. The Ravens must now focus on playing their second road game in a row as they travel to St.Louis to face a strong, young Quarterback in Sam Bradford. Welcome back fans, it’s the highs and lows of the NFL. Just as last week was just one win, this week is just one loss.