Trestman Hire Helps Flacco

Tyler's BylineIt seemed that ex-Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase was set to become Baltimore’s new offensive coordinator on Monday. However, Baltimore changed directions the next day and hired ex-Chicago Bears Head Coach Mark Trestman instead.

Trestman had his struggles coaching the Bears, as he had locker room problems with the team and quarterback Jay Cutler seemed lost at times. However, he has a strong coaching past besides the Bears, including four years in the CFL.

He began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach at Miami and had Hall of Famer Jim Kelly under his wing. Trestman has coached with many NFL teams as well, boasting a quarterback list that includes Steve Young, Rich Gannon and Josh McCown.

The veteran coach may have lost his way in Chicago, but should be a blessing for Joe Flacco, as Trestman has been known to work magic with quarterbacks. Trestman will be Flacco’s fourth offensive coordinator, but the two should mesh well with each other.

He had the second highest scoring offense in 2013 with the Bears, which showed off a well-balanced offense. Flacco has done well learning from each of his offensive coordinators and he should do the same in this case.

The Trestman hire also gives the Ravens a quick fix for Gary Kubiak’s departure and keeps the team from hitting the panic button. The offense is coming off of a high note from last season and Trestman will help the team continue to climb. Trestman could help Joe Flacco take an even bigger step next season, which would make the Ravens a contender again.

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Ravens vs. Steelers Recap

Tyler's BylineJohn Harbaugh reached another milestone in his tenure with the Ravens on Saturday night. It’s taken a while, but the Ravens have finally beaten the Steelers at Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

Baltimore came into Pittsburgh as the No. 6 seed and was faced with the tough matchup with their division rival. The only good news was that star running back Le’Veon Bell was out because of injury. Bell finished with the second most rushing yards this season and had allowed Ben Roethlisberger to open up the passing game more, with defenders keying in on the running back.

The Ravens came into the game with a plethora of injuries of their own though, with starting tackles Eugene Monroe and Ricky Wagner being the most notable. The team had also lost six cornerbacks throughout the year, which had caused many quarterbacks to take advantage of a weak secondary.

However, the story of the game was not about injuries, but of the great team-play by the Ravens. Joe Flacco lived up to his “Joe Cool” nickname and limited mistakes. He finished with 259 yards and 2 touchdowns, but most notably; zero turnovers. Flacco continued his historic playoff play and picked apart the Steelers secondary in the second half.

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The second best player for Baltimore was offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, who made some incredible blocks in the game. One block opened up a huge hole for Bernard Pierce’s five-yard touchdown run. The other block allowed Joe Flacco to spin out of trouble and toss an 11-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.

Justin Tucker came through as usual for the Ravens, as he hit three field goals, including a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter. Tucker has proven to have ice in his veins when kicking in the playoffs and the Ravens would not have won without him.

The offense took care of their part by putting up 30 points and the defense continued its bend but don’t break tendency. Baltimore pressured Big Ben all night and didn’t allow a touchdown to the Steelers until the fourth quarter. Big Ben was sacked five times in the game and he also threw two interceptions, including a crazy pass caught between Terrell Suggs’ legs.

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John Harbaugh and the Ravens showed that they are a different team when the playoffs come around and that they are still very competitive; even with so many injuries. The Ravens are now tied with the Packers for the most road wins playoff history, which goes to show the young franchise’s winning nature.

Baltimore heads to Foxborough next to take on the Patriots and legendary quarterback Tom Brady. However, Joe Flacco is starting to build up a legacy of his own, as he has outplayed Brady in their last couple playoff meetings. Joe Cool now has 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his playoff career, including 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last five playoff games. Baltimore will need Flacco to keep up this type of play in order to beat the Patriots.

 

Ravens vs. Steelers Key Players: Justin Forsett

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Byline MattThe Ravens came into the 2014 season with a giant hole at the running back position, but it didn’t take long for Forsett to enter into the starting role. He ran for over 100 yards five times this season, ending with 1,266 yards total and eight touchdowns to go with it.

Forsett rushed for four yards per carry in nine of the Ravens’ 10 wins and often controlled the offense late in games. Without a healthy Forsett, the Ravens could struggle against the Steelers front-seven. Certainly Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro won’t carry the load like Forsett can.

If the offensive line can hold up enough to find lanes for Forsett, he could have a successful day. With the erratic pass offense of the last couple weeks, a solid run game is essential if the Ravens want to win.

Ravens vs. Steelers Key Players: Eugene Monroe/James Hurst

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Byline MattIt’s not like left tackle was a premiere position for the Ravens before Monroe went down with an ankle injury a few weeks ago. However, throwing an undrafted rookie like James Hurst into the most important position on the offensive line in a playoff game isn’t the ideal solution, either.

If Monroe, who ranked 119th among linemen according to Pro Football Focus, plays, he’ll need to step up his game. He was called for nine penalties, allowing three sacks and four quarterback hurries this season.

That can’t happen. Monroe or Hurst, who ranks 137th in that same category, will need to contain the likes of James Harrison, Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons. Joe Flacco has shown over the past few weeks that he struggles against strong pass rushes, so the stronger Hurst or Monroe will be, the easier Flacco’s job will be.

The whole offensive line needs a strong game, but the focal point will be whoever starts at left tackle.

Ravens Preseason Week 2 Observations

Tyler's Byline

The Ravens came away with a 37-30 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night.

It was an up-and-down game for the team, as certain players shined, while others showed improvement is needed.

Here’s an analysis of each position:

 

Quarterbacks

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Joe Flacco had an average start, throwing for 113 yards and one touchdown. He was 9-for-17 and finished with a 93.5 quarterback rating.

The former Super Bowl MVP didn’t even get onto the field until three minutes left in the first quarter, though, as the Ravens scored two touchdowns from defense and special teams.

It was hard for the Flacco to find a rhythm, but he had a late 96-yard drive in the second quarter and capped it off with a nice pass to Torrey Smith for a touchdown.

It was a 19-yard touchdown catch from Smith and easily Flacco’s best pass of the night.

Tyrod Taylor did….well, what has always been expected of Tyrod Taylor. He ran around as usual and completed a couple of good passes.

The backup finished well statistically, completing six of eight passes for 59 yards and no turnovers, but he didn’t do anything to turn heads.

Kyle Wenning struggled in action, though, coughing up a fumble late in the game. He looked uncomfortable out there and looks to be a longshot to make the team if the Ravens choose to keep just two quarterbacks.

 

Running Back

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Ray Rice only got two carries in the game, but busted out for an 18-yard rush in his first run. He looks quicker than last season and is showing off the burst that he seems to have been missing.

Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro ran very well, combining 114 rushing yards. Each has a good bruising rushing style. Pierce will be the starter while Rice is suspended, but look for Taliaferro to cut into his carries, as he hits the holes hard and doesn’t run East-West.

 

Wide Receiver

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There isn’t too much to say about the receiving core besides Smith’s touchdown catch, as Flacco couldn’t find a rhythm and then Taylor came in.

Jacoby Jones was the leading receiver for Baltimore, coming away with three receptions and 49 yards. It’s hard to judge the receivers when Taylor comes in though, so we’ll have to wait for Flacco to have more time with them next game.

 

Offensive Line

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The starting offensive looked impressive for the Ravens, as the zone blocking scheme opened up a lot of big runs.

Jeremy Zuttah looked good at center and seems to be a huge upgrade over Gino Gradkowski.

Ricky Wagner also continues to do well at right tackle, especially on running plays. He seems to have locked up the job and Ozzie Newsome may have proven to have found a gem once again (why do we ever doubt him).

 

Defensive Line

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Someone I want to point out on the line is DeAngelo Tyson, who is going to push for major playing time this season.

Tyson finished the game with two tackles and looked strong in the game. The former seventh round pick is yet another great find by Newsome and could be a factor for the Ravens if he continues to play this well.

 

Inside Linebackers

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C.J. Mosley continues to impress, finishing the game with five tackles. He’s got great speed and fills the holes well, which is what Baltimore saw when they drafted him.

Daryl Smith showed off what he normally does for the team and should be one of the captains of this defense.

Arthur Brown looked a lot better than last week’s game and finished the night with two solo tackles. It was good to see him break through blockers late in the game for a solid tackle, but he still has more room for improvement.

 

Outside Linebackers

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Courtney Upshaw had a 26-yard, fumble-return touchdown to open up the game, which got things going for the defense.

The Ravens only came away with one sack though, which came from Pernell McPhee. However, Terrell Suggs looked good and John Simon looked decent, besides one play where he was burned by the tight end.

 

Secondary

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Things got scary for the Ravens when Jimmy Smith left the game early with a bruised chest, but X-rays came back negative. Baltimore can’t afford to lose Smith, as Domonique Franks was dominated by Dez Bryant early on.

Chykie Brown also had his struggles, so Baltimore will want to keep Webb and Smith as healthy as possible.

Brynden Trawick played well, with an interception off of Brandon Weeden and strong play on special teams. He may be able to find a spot on this roster, especially because of injuries and his strengths on special teams.

 

Special Teams

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Deonte Thompson stole the show, with a 108-yard kick-return touchdown in the first quarter.

Thompson averaged 62.7 yards per return and showed off elite speed. He has a shot at making the team solely because of special teams.

Justin Tucker converted three of four field goals, with the miss coming on a 61-yarder. No competition for Tucker though, as he’s one of the best kickers in the game.

Ray Rice Speaks

Ray Rice gave a 17-minute pressure conference after practice today, talking about the incident that got him suspended for two games and drew criticism all over the country. Watch the full press conference here.

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These are some of the most notable quotes and images from the conference:

“That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life. The pain I’m talking about living with is waking up every day, and my daughter is two years old now, and I have a little girl, who’s very smart, very intelligent, and one day she’s going to know the power of Google, and me having to explain that to her, what happened that night.”

“You have to fix yourself before you can go out and help others, and when the time is right me and my wife want to go out there and help people, anybody, violence of any kind, especially man on woman, is just not right.”

“I don’t have any control over what the punishment was. No football games or money can compare to what I’m living with.”