Week 10 brings the Titans (2-6) to M&T Bank Stadium, where we find the Ravens (5-4) still licking their wounds after last week’s embarrassing 43-23 loss to their arch rival Steelers on Sunday Night Football. As I predicted last week, Ben Roethlisberger and his wideouts had a field day against the Ravens out-manned and out-gunned secondary. The Pittsburgh quarterback continually took advantage of poor coverage by the Ravens defense throwing for 340 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Here are some thoughts on the Ravens secondary and more heading into week 10:
Ravens DBs May Approach ’96 Levels of Ineptitude
The loss of Jimmy Smith for the rest of the season took with it any real hope for a turnaround of the secondary. This is looking more and more like a situation that can only be fixed by finding replacements in the Draft and Free Agency, along with hoped for offseason development from young players like Matt Elam (is there still hope there?) and Terrence Brooks (healthy scratches are never good).
What I fear most at this point is that the defensive backfield will approach levels of ineptitude not seen in Baltimore since the first year of the Ravens franchise back in 1996. For those too young to remember or those who wiped it from their memory banks, the Ravens burst onto the scene with a dynamic aerial attack led by Vinny Testaverde, Michael Jackson (cue the “Hee, Hee” from Tom Jackson on ESPN), and Derrick Alexander. The Ravens could and would sling it all over the field, but inevitably the defense (one of the many issues with the ’96 team) would completely implode, leading to opponents averaging more than 27 points per game and a 4-12 debut season in Baltimore.
As the 2014 season has progressed, the names of Chykie Brown (side note: thank you for taking him off our hands, Giants), Dominique Franks, Asa Jackson, Lardarius Webb, Darian Stewart, Will Hill, and Matt Elam keep playing themselves ever closer to the likes of DeRon Jenkins, Donny Brady, Isaac Booth, Vashone Adams, Antonio Langham, Eric Turner, and Stevon Moore. Things are pretty bad and it may keep getting worse before it gets better.
The Blindside Returns
Tennessee’s visit to Baltimore marks the return of former Ravens first round pick Michael Oher to Baltimore. The offensive tackle celebrated in the book and subsequent movie “The Blind Side” turned in mixed results in his time in Baltimore, but I certainly hope he gets a nice welcome back to Charm City.
Pardon me for getting up on a soap box for a moment, but too often fans in Baltimore and beyond tend to boo returning players a little too much. While there is no question that Oher never lived up to the hype of his Hollywood billing and could be counted on for far too many false start penalties, he at times was an anchor for the offensive line and a big part of the Super Bowl run in 2012. Add to that his clean rap sheet and good rapport with media and fans and you have a player that deserves a few cheers.
Now don’t get me wrong, once the game begins I’ll be one of the first among you to snicker when Oher gets called for a false start, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show him some love for the good times he had as a Raven.
Getting Tired of T-Sizzle
Terrell Suggs pretty much cemented my opinion of him during Sunday night’s game against Pittsburgh and it’s not a favorable one. I’ve previously hinted a few times about my feelings for Suggs, but it has become pretty clear to me that T-Sizzle is way more style than substance at this point. It’s an absolute joke that he is considered by many to be the leader of the Baltimore defense and overall team.
Aside from his despicable late hit on Steelers’ running back LeGarrett Blount, Suggs at one point was hamming it up for the NBC cameras while on the sideline by playing air guitar along with the music going over the stadium speakers. I try to stay away from criticizing players’ actions on the sideline, but I want my team leaders to be going over things with coaches and taking things a little bit more seriously, especially when it’s a huge nationally televised game against their biggest rival and happen to also be getting their butts kicked.
At times I’ve found Suggs to be funny and he is certainly the class clown of the team, but the Ravens need more from him. He takes up way too much of the salary cap and has performed way too little over the last few years for him to continue to behave like a such a complete ass.