With Suggs hurt, Ravens might need extra sizzle

Team will need to be creative and find more ways to get pressure than it did in the first nine games

November 18, 2009|By Mike Preston

Ravens fans had been asking for rookie defensive end Paul Kruger, and now they just might get him.

The Ravens coaching staff was eagerly awaiting the results of a magnetic resonance imagining on the knee of Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs Tuesday afternoon. The initial diagnosis Monday night was a sprained knee.

Suggs suffered the injury in the middle of the third quarter when Ravens cornerback Chris Carr intercepted a pass from Cleveland quarterback Brady Quinn, and Quinn cut Suggs at the knees without even attempting to tackle Carr.

"There is no question that it's beyond the rules. It's absolutely illegal. I'm sure Brady knows that. I don't think for one second that he's trying to hurt Terrell Suggs. But he's got to be better than that in that situation. You can't let that happen," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh on his radio show.

After the game Quinn said the hit was unintentional, but it was a cheap shot, and Quinn should face a stiff fine from the NFL. More importantly to the Ravens, they will likely be without their top pass rusher for a crucial stretch of games, which include Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

The Ravens have to face three of the NFL's top quarterbacks in Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, maybe without Suggs.

Even before Suggs' injury, Kruger, a second-round pick out of Utah, was activated for the second time this season against the Browns. But you could tell why he hasn't played because he could do very little against Cleveland left offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

But Kruger is only one move the Ravens might make. They could also use outside linebacker Antwan Barnes as a pass rusher on third downs, or move Trevor Pryce to the outside. Prescott Burgess and Jameel McClain also have experience on the outside as a defensive end/outside linebacker.

Regardless, the Ravens are going to have to be creative and find more ways to get pressure than they did in the first nine games.

Flat Flacco
After watching Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco the last couple of weeks, it appears that he has regressed. The only time he seems effective is when he is running the no-huddle because he can make quick reads and doesn't have to think as much.

A lot of his passes are high. He looks slow moving in the pocket and very seldom steps up to throw. It might be a timing issue because his offensive line surrenders a lot of ground quickly on the snap.

Flacco appears uncomfortable, and that's not good going into the Indianapolis and Pittsburgh games because he is going to have to manufacture some points.

This might be the perfect time for Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to unleash the three-headed monster of a year ago. If Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning stays on the field too long Sunday, he could put up 40 points on the Ravens.

The Ravens should just keep running, running and running at the Colts, punishing them into submission with Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain.

The Ravens really have no other choice. They've tried to match firepower with the Colts before, and have lost six straight.

Paging Dr. Phil
One of the most disturbing problems with the Ravens is how they appear so lifeless at times, as if they have already quit for the season.

When you're 4-4 and the season is on the line, how can you come out so flat against the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football? How can you play so poorly for a half against Cincinnati in such a significant game?

This is so strange coming from a team that prides itself on being physical. This could be a case for Dr. Phil.

No excuses
For the 13 seasons Matt Stover was the kicker, there were never any discussions about possible problems with the holder or long snapper. Now that kicker Steve Hauschka has been cut, there really isn't any reason to discuss the possibility of those other problems.The bottom line is that Hauschka was underperforming. It's one thing to miss field goals, but when you blow extra points, there's a problem.

Can you take it?
There were about eight minutes left in the game Monday night, and even though Cleveland was only down 16-0, there were only about 1,000 fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium. It was tough to watch. Maybe an item that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Monday morning summed up the feelings in Cleveland. It read: "Hey Baltimore, can you take this team, too?"

No relief for Browns
Unfortunately for Browns' fans, it's not going to get any better next season, either. The Browns appear set to fire coach Eric Mangini at the end of the season, and it's apparent that this franchise can't be built around Quinn, in his second year.

After watching that poor performance by Quinn Monday night, he ought to be no more than a backup in the NFL. How do you throw three or four long passes downfield, and have them sail 15 to 20 yards out of bounds?

That shot he took on Suggs irritated a lot of Ravens who might be hunting for his head in future games.

Time for a comeback
For all the talking coach John Harbaugh did on improving third-down situations and cutting down on penalties, apparently his players didn't listen.

Against Cleveland, the Ravens were 4 of 14 on third downs and had seven penalties for 43 yards. What happened to the Harbaugh who was a disciplinarian? What happened to the Harbaugh who used to get in players' faces? It's time for the old Harbaugh to return.

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