After all the moves, offense has yet to really get moving

The more quarterback Marc Bulger plays, the better he looks

August 21, 2010|Mike Preston

LANDOVER —

— Maybe in two weeks, we'll finally get to see the real Ravens offense.

Hopefully, it wasn't on display Saturday night against the Washington Redskins, because the Ravens were out of sync and erratic. They were unpredictable, but not in a good way.

When they should have been going downfield more on third-down situations, they ran short, clearing-out patterns. Quarterback Joe Flacco had problems delivering the ball early and didn't appear to have timing with his receivers because he was getting pressured a lot.

There has been a lot of hype about this offense with the additions of receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth during the offseason, but there wasn't much explosion Saturday night. In fact, the Ravens' offense looked a lot like it did last season, when the passing offense consisted mostly of check-down passes to running back Ray Rice.

But there is no reason to panic. The Ravens have been shuffling offensive linemen for the past two weeks because of injuries, and there is no reason to show the good stuff yet.

At least Rice looked good, even though he fumbled the ball twice, and that was a problem at the end of last year. Both Boldin and Stallworth had leaping catches, and maybe that was a sign of things to come.

Defensively, the Ravens played reasonably well, but the Redskins did some major damage with short to midrange passes over the middle, and the Ravens showed they still need some help at one cornerback position.

Bulger shows his touch

Late in the second quarter, backup quarterback Marc Bulger, who played well, threw a perfect 25-yard pass to Stallworth down the right sideline. It was thrown over Stallworth's back shoulder and between two defenders.

It's the kind of pass that Flacco can't throw regularly yet but that Bulger throws easily. The more Bulger plays, the better he looks. He could end up being the biggest acquisition by the Ravens during the offseason.

Suggs pounds rookie

Ravens Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs owned Washington left offensive tackle Trent Williams.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

Suggs beat Williams every way imaginable. He ran around and through him on passing plays. He pushed him back and threw him to the ground on running plays. Worse yet, the Redskins gave Williams no help, allowing Suggs to pound on him one-on-one.

If he could have raised a white flag, Williams would have surrendered midway in the second quarter.

No passing grade for Oher yet

After watching second-year player Michael Oher play left offensive tackle for the second straight week, I'm getting a little concerned about his pass blocking.

He is allowing way too much penetration, which is making Flacco release the ball sooner than he needs to or step up in the pocket too early. This might be another learning year for Oher against the elite pass rushers in the league.

Rough night for McNabb

Now, Donovan McNabb knows how former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell felt.

Like Campbell last season, McNabb took a beating from the Ravens on Saturday night. McNabb took some vicious shots, and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gambled by keeping McNabb in for the entire first half. But McNabb has to feel at home in Washington. He doesn't have any top-caliber receivers in D.C., and that was a major problem for McNabb throughout his career in Philadelphia.

Williams keeps it to himself

You can tell cornerback Cary Williams hasn't been with the Ravens long. When he intercepted a McNabb pass in the second quarter, he didn't attempt to lateral during a 38-yard return.

Williams continues to make plays. His suspension for the first two games will be a significant loss for the Ravens.

Big break on special teams

Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura broke his ankle and fibula last season, but he broke somebody else's ankles Saturday night.

Nakamura was the up back who handled the snap on a fake punt. Nakamura ran through the tackle of linebacker H.B. Blades at the line of scrimmage and then did a stutter step on returner Brandon Banks near the 10.

Big gains vs. Fisher a bad sign

I've seen enough in the first two games to realize that if Travis Fisher is the starting cornerback for the Ravens in the first two games of the regular season, the team is in trouble.

If the Redskins can get some big plays on him, imagine what the Bengals will do in regular -season game No. 2.

Speaking of the Ravens' coverage, they started rookie cornerback Prince Miller at the nickel position and Nakamura at the dime. Tavares Gooden also replaced Jameel McClain as one of the starting linebackers in the nickel coverage.

Mo' lessons for McClain

There are times when you can see Le'Ron McClain is still learning the running back position. He caught a screen pass in the left flat in the second quarter, and instead of hugging the backside of guard Ben Grubbs for about 5 to 10 more yards, he made the wrong cut and gained only 8 yards.

One other thing, Mr. McClain: Stop leaving your feet to cut block on a reverse. Just block the defender in the chest and keep your feet.

Grading the linebackers

Overall, it was a much better game for the Ravens' linebackers Saturday night compared with their opener. They got off blocks and got a lot of pressure on McNabb. They were enthusiastic and hungry.

Now, if only they could cover. …

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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