Bottom line: Harbaugh outcoached Ryan

September 14, 2010|Mike Preston

A week ago, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis warned New York Jets coach Rex Ryan about writing a check his team couldn't cash.

Lewis was trying to tell Ryan he was putting undue pressure on his team. But in the end, it was Ryan who came up short.

In the Ravens' 10-9 win against the Jets Monday night, Ryan was clearly outcoached by head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens staff. It wasn't really close.

The Ravens made some adjustments to their game plan, while the Jets stayed status quo on their way to defeat.

It was evident right from the start. Once Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked on the Ravens' first offensive play, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron went with more tight and power formations, even an unbalanced line to help his offensive tackles and protect his quarterback.

Also, even though the Ravens averaged only 1.4 yards a carry, they stayed with the running game to keep the Jets honest on defense and control the clock.

In the passing game, the Ravens took advantage of one-on-one matchups, while Ryan never changed his blitz-happy scheme. Poor Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie. As members of the Jets secondary, they were repeatedly burned by Ravens receivers as the Ravens; pass protection schemes countered the Ryan blitzes.

While the Ravens were chucking it downfield, Ryan had second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez throwing mostly short passes. It got ridiculous after a while, especially since the biggest question mark surrounding the Ravens in 2010 is the suspect play of their cornerbacks.

Maybe Ryan didn't get the memo.

Look for more blitzes Sunday

The Ravens didn't show a lot of exotic blitzes against the Jets because they didn't have to, but that won't work against the pass-happy Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, and the other player to keep an eye on is No. 3 receiver Andre Caldwell.

The Ravens couldn't match up with Caldwell last season, and after Monday night's game, we still don't know have any idea if they can stop him because the Jets didn't challenge the Ravens' secondary.

Flacco has room for improvement

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco turned in a decent performance Monday night against the Jets, and he "slid" well side to side to avoid some pressure, but he still needs to improve his mechanics.

Flacco is having some of the same problems as a year ago because he doesn't step into some of his passes and he throws off his back foot. Flacco has to learn to step up in the pocket hard like a John Elway, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

When he doesn't step forward, he drops his elbow close to his body which causes his passes to sail. There are also times that he doesn't know when to put air under the ball, and when to throw it on the line. It's frustrating with Flacco because there are times when he shows the appropriate form, compared to his predecessor, Kyle Boller, who had very little technique.

The Ravens need to address these issues quickly because they have quality receivers who can go up and catch the ball. Sometimes with quarterbacks in this situation, they get lazy and rely more on their receivers than the appropriate mechanics.

Easy there, Harbaugh

Harbaugh, understandably so, was extremely happy after the win against the Jets, but he got a little carried away when he said Lewis has not lost a step.

Let's not go crazy.

Maybe Harbaugh hasn't seen film of Lewis during the 2000 season.

Nakamura the nickel again next week?

The Ravens have found a way of getting safety Haruki Nakamura on the field. Nakamura played as the nickel back against the Jets, and could be in the same situation against the Bengals even though the Ravens might be better off using another cornerback in this game.

Nakamura versus Caldwell?

I'm taking Caldwell in that matchup.

Heap's injury only serious one

Ravens tight end Todd Heap suffered a shoulder strain against the Jets, but he is expected to practice Wednesday. Besides the usual bumps and bruises, Heap's injury was the only one of a serious nature.

That's kind of surprising, especially after such a physical game. The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles had a similar slugfest Sunday, and there were numerous injuries on both sides.

Ravens reach settlements with two players

The Ravens have reached injury settlements with guard/center David Hale and offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers. The news about Hale is disappointing because he was one of the hardest workers on the team and was actually starting to become a solid player.

Maybe the Ravens will bring him back next season.

Good effort by Suggs

Ravens defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had six tackles against the Jets, including one sack. Suggs also had a couple of hurries.

It was a good game against a quality left tackle in New York's D'Brickashaw Ferguson. And if Suggs can add a move or two to his repertoire and learn how to set up his moves, he could become the most dominant pass rusher in the NFL.

mike.preston@baltimoresun.com

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