Welcome to Lunchtime Links, where we round up all the latest Ravens new from around the web for your convenient consumption. On today’s links, we bring you the latest Ravens power rankings, some film study from Saturday night’s victory over the Redskins, some lessons learned from week 3 of the preseason, and how Steve Smith is getting more and more comfortable in the offense.
Ravens moving up in power rankings
Matt Miller at Bleacher Report has put up his updated power rankings following the conclusion of week 3 of the preseason. The Ravens have moved up one spot, from 11 to 10 this week, following their third straight victory. It’s a pretty good spot, as the team lands behind the perennial powerhouses and a couple of question marks like the Eagles and Bears.
Unlike most power rankings, Miller realizes that the Ravens are simply a better team than the Steelers or Bengals right now. We feel more confident in the team now that the defense has shown it’s teeth. Prior to Saturday night against the Redskins, we were a little concerned about the pass rush. After a dominant performance against the nimble Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offensive line, consider our concerns addressed.
What we learned in week 3 of the preseason
Jason Marcum at Bleacher Report has put up his lessons from the third week of the preseason. It was a coming out party of sorts for Steve Smith, who posted by far his best performance yet. While we haven’t really been worried about Smith per se, it was comforting to see him bust out for the first time as a Raven.
Many pundits have expressed concern after Smith looked a bit washed up last season (relatively speaking), but we are confident he will benefit from not being the focal point of opposing defenses for the first time in his career.
Steve Smith’s comfort level is growing
Speaking of Smith, a big component of his success Saturday night is his growing comfort level, as Clifton Brown at CSN Baltimore points out. Smith expressed open disappointment in his performance prior to Saturday night, and he has lavished praise upon Joe Flacco.
“As far as Joe, he is a Super Bowl MVP quarterback, and with him, I just have to do my job and make things easy for him,” Smith said. “I am the one who has to raise my level of play and get on the same page with him. He is doing a great job, and he is being very patient with me.”
“I need to continue to do a better job, and today was a great opportunity to do that. Last week, I really didn’t play well. I didn’t line up well, and my assignments were off. Today was a great opportunity to show that I can be an asset, instead of the liability I was last week.”
While Smith has played for several quarterbacks over the years, he has played in essentially the same system and with the same club for his entire career. Some growing pains were obviously expected, but the simple fact that he is willing to shoulder the blame is yet another sign of the tremendous leadership ability he brings to the Ravens.
A film study of Saturday night’s game
Ken McKusick at Russell Street Report has an excellent film study up that further dives into the dominant performance of the Raven’s front defensive seven Saturday night against the Redskins. McKusick breaks down each individual player and grades their performance as well.
Among the players that stood out in McKusick’s study was Pernell McPhee. McPhee received extra attention from the Redskin’s line yet still continued his disruptive play while generating consistent pressure. Brandon Williams got the defensive MVP of the game vote, however, following his dominant performance. It just seemed like Williams was in on every play, even though he only played 22 snaps. Williams is going to have a huge impact on this defense in 2014 and beyond.