31-17? It was an ugly and painful loss to the St. Louis Rams last night. Maybe we should have expected this, especially on a night when the Baltimore Ravens only played a handful of starters against the entire starting lineup of the St. Louis Rams; but one thing became very clear…if Baltimore wants to win, Joe Flacco must remain healthy.
Playing mostly back-ups and bubble guys versus the Rams’ starters for a quarter and a half, the Ravens looked sluggish and weak. They lacked the passionate play and leadership that veteran guys like Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed bring to the field. It is evident that the Ravens will only go as far as Joe Flacco’s right arm will take them this season. I believe he is the most important player on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster and he is the only player that can not be replaced. Keeping Flacco healthy is the key if the Ravens want another chance for a Super Bowl ring this season.
Replacing Terrell Suggs, while difficult, is much “easier” when you have Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw around. Now, don’t get me wrong, Terrell Suggs IS A BEAST. He IS an ALL PRO and he IS the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, so a drop-off is to be expected, but I feel you will get good (if not-great) play from the tandem of Kruger and Upshaw. The Ravens have some tough cuts to make today as they are deep everywhere on their roster; that is, everywhere except quarterback. Replacing Joe Flacco would be a much harder task for this team.
Tyrod Taylor and Curtis Painter made poor decisions and combined for four turnovers last night. They did not instill confidence in the Ravens’ coaching staff (or the Ravens’ fan base for that matter) that they could get the job done if/when Joe Flacco ever does go down with an injury. Granted, they didn’t have the weapons that Flacco usually possesses on the field, but three of the four turnovers were the fault of the quarterback (Painter was charged with an interception on a pass that deflected off RB-Bobby Rainey’s hands).
On the final night of the preseason where jobs were ultimately won and lost, no one stepped up to become the Ravens’ true backup to Joe Flacco. Taylor’s speed is nice and he can sometimes make things happen with his feet and Painter shows the ability to lead the offense down the field. He led the team on two touchdown drives last night and he shows some future promise, but rest assured…Joe Flacco’s job is not in jeopardy. So lets hope and pray that the O-line can keep Joe Flacco upright this year!