I don’t want to talk about that game from Thursday night. Enough has been said about it already, and it’s almost impossible to make any sense of what happened.
This post will address what the Ravens can do to rebound from the loss, and get back in the driver’s seat in the AFC playoff picture.
Who’s to blame for Thursday night’s loss? Certainly not Joe Flacco, who led an amazing comeback with some great throws and a solid pocket presence. Not Derrick Mason, who was a solid target all night for Joe Cool. Besides those two, it’s an open field. It could be Greg Mattison, who called 3-man blitzes all game, even while seeing that when Ryan was put under pressure, the Falcons QB was mostly ineffective. It could be the referees, who called a facemask penalty on Terrell Suggs that ended up giving the Falcons 7 points instead of 3, and who neglected to call an offensive pass interference on Roddy White in the unfortunate game-winning touchdown play for the Falcons. Or it could be the more popular pick, the entire Ravens’ defense, who let Matt Ryan take the Falcons 80 yards down the field in a minute, and who were lucky that the Falcons only put up 28 points on them. And don’t forget the offensive line, which except for Matt Birk, gave Joe Flacco almost no help with the Falcons’ solid pass rush.
Really, when push comes to shove, there’s nobody specific to blame. It was a crummy performance, and the only reason the Ravens were able to take the lead was because the Falcons took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. Now the Ravens are searching for answers as to why they lost in such a heartbreaking fashion.
Here is a short list of my solutions for the Ravens, basically the ways they can win next Sunday when they travel to Charlotte to take on the hapless Panthers:
- Bring more men on the blitz. Terrell Suggs looked awesome when he pressured Ryan, and it would be in Greg Mattison’s best interest to have Suggs rushing the quarterback more often that dropping into coverage.
- Having the defensive backs communicate with each other better. Roddy White could’ve been contained on Thursday night, but managed to slip through mediocre zone coverage where the Ravens’ cornerbacks and safeties were obviously not on the same page.
- Isolate Anquan Boldin. We saw that he could do a lot of damage to the Falcons when he got open, but the Falcons kept him double teamed throughout the first half. While I know it’s not simple to do that, play action and motion plays could help, along with the deceptive screen plays that he can run very efficiently.
- Make sure that Michael Oher knows where to go in certain blocking schemes. Oher can’t move side-to-side very efficiently, but that can be dealt with if he and uber-talented Ben Grubbs combine their skills well. I can’t even fathom the amount of times that Oher and Grubbs attempted to block the same pass rusher, leaving John Abraham free to do whatever he wanted on Flacco’s blind side.
- Run the ball!!! Ray Rice only had 12 carries in the game. While I know it’s tough to run the ball when you start losing, you need to utilize your Pro Bowl running back throughout the game. When you add his three receptions into the mix, Rice only had 15 touches, not nearly enough for a top-notch offensive weapon to be dangerous against a fairly weak Falcons defense.
So, that’s that. I’m sorry for the lack of posts for three days. It was due to a mix of sour feelings from Thursday night and a busy weekend. Look for a full 32-man big board this week from Dan, and possibly some fantasy news.