The Baltimore Ravens should not play vanilla football this preseason:
The Baltimore Ravens open the 2017 regular season against two divisional opponents. First the play the Cincinnati Bengals, then the Cleveland Browns. Marvin Lewis has had the Ravens number, he probably could dissect the Ravens’ tendencies better than anyone else. Lewis and his staff will build their game plan on years of experience against John Harbaugh’s Ravens. There is nothing to hide this preseason.
Instead of stripping down the offense or giving the mild version of the defense, Baltimore should go at each preseason game like it’s a regular season game. When the starters are on the field, they must be playing with a full playbook. They need to work out the kinks and focus on communication.
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The Ravens offense has a lot of young players. They also have some new pieces that they added in free agency. The defense has a lot of new talent. In a perfect world, everything gels together in the preseason.
I doubt the Ravens starters will spend much time on the field in the first two preseason games. John Harbaugh’s team has been burned by injuries throughout his tenure. They will be careful with their top players, but they must get some work done in the four exhibition games. Injuries are the one thing you don’t want to see in the preseason.
I’m not suggesting that the purple and black should put everything they have up there sleeves on film for the rest of the league in meaningless games. I’m merely suggesting that the preseason football should be productive. If you’re going to play games that don’t matter and having your best players risking injury, you might as well work out any possible hiccups that could present themselves against the Bengals.
The Bottom Line:
One of the problems with the preseason is that the team can walk into the regular season not really knowing themselves. Last preseason we over-reacted to the defenses problems and we got too excited about the Ravens ground game. The predictions and analysis that happened based off the preseason gave us an inaccurate look at the team.
If I’m John Harbaugh, I want to build some momentum and some trust in the starters. In the first game all I’d want is one good drive. In the second game I’d want one good quarter. With the dress rehearsal that is the third game, I’d want everything to be humming the way it would on September 10th for a little over two quarters. No matter what, I want them working on things that they’d be doing in the regular season.
The preseason is pretty brutal for the fans. They shouldn’t have to watch Ravens light, for four weeks. If the players have to take the preseason seriously, so should the coaching staff. The Ravens should get things rolling before it counts. This will allow them to go into Cincinnati with some confidence.