Guest contribution to BSR by Andrew Holly. Follow Andrew on Twitter, @AndrewDHolly.
You know that saying,”If it’s brown, flush it down.”
I usually use this turn of phrase to describe my feelings for this week’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns. While people who surround me at my local watering hole will likely hear me yell that a few times during Sunday’s game, I’m using it now to describe how the Baltimore Ravens need to move on from last weeks’ turd of a game against the Denver Broncos.
Oh, how big a turd it was.
Peyton Manning tied the NFL record for passing TDs in a game and the Ravens suffered the worst opening loss for a defending Super Bowl champ. The abysmal play of the secondary can be mostly blamed for this terrible showing, but the offense wasn’t exactly a bright spot either. The receivers and tight ends were dropping passes, the offensive line was pushed around by a defense that was missing its top two pass rushers from a year ago, and the running game could never really get going.
On top of all that, WR/KR Jacoby Jones is out for over a month with a knee sprain suffered during a play that will likely end up on NFL blooper reels for years to come.
(On a side note, Brynden Trawick said after the game that he “just lost sight” of Jones during the punt return, but don’t you need to actually look at someone to see him? I try to keep a cool head about mistakes, but I’m kind of shocked he hasn’t been cut this week.)
Yep, a pretty crappy performance, but thankfully there are 15 games remaining on the schedule. If it’s brown, flush it down and the Ravens need to do just that as they head into Sunday’s game. You can’t forget the mistakes that were made, but you can use them to improve on what went wrong. I have confidence that John Harbaugh and the rest of the coaching staff are doing just that.
Now on to the Browns…
I’m intrigued to see how the Ravens respond to the challenge this week. Emotions will be running high, as the team will have their final celebration of last season’s Super Bowl success with their home opener. In some respects, the Browns provide just what the doctor ordered for the Ravens.
Cleveland allowed Miami to hammer Brandon Weeden continually on Sunday. The Browns’ starting QB was hit a whopping 16 times during the game, including 6 sacks. Weeden told reporters after the game that he didn’t remember ever getting hit that much in a football game before. This could lead to a big day for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. While the pressure brought by the Ravens’ defense against the Broncos was a bit inconsistent, Suggs and Dumervil each had a sack of Peyton Manning. They will need to ramp up that pressure against the Browns and make sure the Cleveland offensive line has a repeat performance in Week 2.
Despite the favorable matchup against the Cleveland offensive line, the Ravens still have some legitimate tests ahead of them on both sides of the ball. The Browns defense is not one to sleep on.
Cleveland held Miami to 20 rushing yards on 23 carries and, as mentioned above, the Ravens’ running game never really had a chance to get into rhythm against Denver. Ray Rice and company could have their hands full on Sunday. The Ravens may need to rely more on Joe Flacco’s arm to move the football and that will put the spotlight once again on the Baltimore tight ends and wide receivers. This group needs to step up this week.
My biggest concern on the Cleveland offense isn’t Trent Richardson, but Jordan Cameron. The Browns’ tight end was targeted 13 times and finished the game with 9 receptions for 108 yards and a score. The Browns certainly don’t have the firepower of the Broncos offense, but Cameron poses matchup problems galore for the Ravens. All one has to do is look back at the breakout performance of Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (5 receptions for 110 yards and 2 TDs) to see the Ravens have a big problem on their hands with Cameron. Look for Cameron to be a big focus of both the Browns offense and the Ravens defense on Sunday.
Here’s hoping the next time I say “if it’s brown, flush it down”, that I’m talking about Cleveland and not the Ravens performance.