For those of you who were loyal readers of Around the Harbor I’d like to welcome you to BSR, where 2/3 of our team has joined up. Windsor is the only member unable to make the jump over, though I will do my best to try to wrangle him for a Prospect Report or some other appearance as the Orioles season draws nearer. In the meantime, I am tremendously excited to make my debut over here after taking a couple months off. Let me see if I remember how this works…
Week One, Kansas City: The defense opened with an abysmal start against Kansas City, though we could all give the team the benefit of the doubt at that time with Brodie Croyle doing most of his damage in the 4th quarter when the Ravens were comfortably ahead. The offense set a franchise record with over 500 yards of offense and Joe Flacco going over 300 yards passing for the first time in his career. Everyone who expected the Ravens to stick with the same formula that got them to the AFC Championship in 2008 was taken completely off guard with the gun-slinging that Cameron put on display to open the season. Throughout the first three games of the season we’d wait to see what kind of offense this team would try to be. It didn’t have to be entirely conservative or entirely free-wheeling, but fans wanted to see some clear identity to it. Little did they know at the time, they’d still be waiting for that in January.
Week Two, San Diego: Likewise against San Diego the defense struggled but was able to hide it with a tremendous play to end the game as Ray Lewis stuffed Darren Sproles on 4th & 2 by reading the play perfectly at the line. The game was remembered for that play, and thankfully not for the 436 yards Philip Rivers racked up against an overmatched secondary. After the display that Croyle put on in the 4th quarter and Rivers put on in Week 2, the secondary that so many feared would be awful was living up entirely to expectations. As I had said in the offseason, the Ravens had chosen a player who was drafted in the 3rd round, traded for a 6th round pick, and then released to be their #1 cornerback in Dominique Foxworth. What did they expect would happen? However, the Baltimore faithful could have faith that the defense would improve as the season went on, especially considering the strides that Fabian Washington had made at the end of the 2008 season. They could also still look at the offense’s continued success through the air and the commitment to the ground game, giving McGahee/Rice/McClain 28 total carries. It all depended on what the fan wanted to see, but 2-0 was 2-0.
Week Three, Cleveland: Week three was a tomato can. The Browns team that faced the Ravens on September 27th was even worse than they would be later in the season, and with Derek Anderson at quarterback it was an absolute offensive disaster. As much as fans wanted to say that the defense had arrived after holding Cleveland to a 4th quarter field goal as their lone points of the day, it was clear that Cleveland couldn’t score a touchdown if you spotted them the first 5 points! Joe once again went wild on the secondary with 35 passes and a new career high in yardage.
And now, to set the stage: It’s the end of September, and the Ravens have reeled off three straight 31+ point games to begin the season. Joe Flacco is looking like Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Cameron is looking more inventive than Mike Martz, and those Ravens receivers are playing like they’re on the Colts. Of course, Ray Rice is still a complimentary back to Willis McGahee who continues to split the carries- at this time however, no one is clamoring for him to take over full-time anyway. However, there were concerns that one couldn’t overlook even as Baltimore topped numerous NFL power rankings and fans were annoyed at the rankings that didn’t have them at the top.
What would the offense turn into? Had Joe Flacco arrived as a Pro Bowl quarterback? Would the defense regain its form? Would the secondary come together? It would take some of these questions longer than others to answer, but for the first three weeks, all was well on the scoreboard at 1 Winning Drive.