Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

  • Ravens running back Willis McGahee flexes after scoring against the Dolphins.
Ravens running back Willis McGahee flexes after scoring against… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
November 09, 2010|By Baltimore Sun reporter

Each week Baltimore Sun Ravens columnist Mike Preston will answer a selection of reader questions about the Ravens' performance in their most recent game, with a look ahead to their next game. Discussed this week: the Ravens poor red-zone offense, the return of Donte' Stallworth, whose speed could help the Ravens, if they use him properly, and the lackluster effort across the league so far this year. "If the NFL started the playoffs right now, I'd be happy because that's when the intensity gets turned up a notch," writes Preston.

Alex T. I was wondering what you thought about the rumor that [ Joe] Flacco can only go through one or two progressions before checking off to Rice. Flacco had a good game [Sunday], but it seemed like the Dolphins didn't do much to pressure him.

Mike Preston: I actually thought the Dolphins were a better coached team, but I had to change my opinion after Sunday. Defensively, coordinator Mike Nolan stayed in a four-man front most of the game. He changed very little and was content to sit back and allow the Ravens to take him apart. I still can't figure out why they allowed running back Ray Rice to run so freely underneath the coverage. It's true that Flacco had to be more patient when he was only getting a three- or four-man rush, but he played well against the Dolphins. They gave him Rice, and he took it. Going through the progressions wasn't a problem when Rice was wide opened.

Johnny: Was Donte' Stallworth getting open down field? How did he look? Cam Cameron/Flacco did a great job spreading the ball around. What will his return mean to this offense?

Mike Preston: Stallworth got in about a 12 to 20 plays. He wasn't much of a factor but didn't have to be because Rice became the primary target. I suspect Stallworth will play more in due time, and his speed is something the Ravens definitely need to stretch defenses. Stallworth worked extremely hard during the offseason, and personally, I want to see what he can bring to the Ravens. He didn't return any kickoffs or punts Sunday, but if the Ravens continue to falter in that area, I suspect he will be doing that sometime soon.

Andrea: That first half was not the best we have seen from this team. Why do we continue to only rush 3? When are we going to send more after the QB??

Mike Preston: Andrea, I actually thought the Ravens had a nice blend of packages Sunday. I'm not a big fan of the three-man rush, but it didn't hurt the Ravens. I thought the Ravens did a better job of disguising some pressures and also moved outside linebacker Terrell Suggs around a bit more to take advantage of mismatches. If the Ravens are to be successful in the second half, they will have to mix things up. If not, they will become as predictable as the Dolphins were on Sunday.

AJ: What's with the lack of red zone offense? No imagination in play calling? Poor execution?

Mike Preston: Yep, I would like to see more imagination in the passing game in that area of the field. The Ravens don't run any picks or floods, and Cameron usually has Flacco throwing to the outside. Good quarterbacks can attack the middle of the field in the red zone. If you want to see that, go check out the Packers against the Cowboys Sunday night or any Peyton Manning film. It's all part of turning Flacco loose, and apparently the Ravens don't feel this is the appropriate time. Also, short yardage, at least for the O-line, is about pride and toughness. The Ravens have to get more physical at the point of attack, especially the guards and center.

Brian: About two months ago there were some readers chiming in about benching our starting QB after a bad outing. Have you seen or heard from this group lately?

Mike Preston: They are like fans at an Orioles game. They have been no-shows.

Harry: Lardarius Webb's INT, should have gone for a TD. What the HECK was wrong with the OFFENSE after his INT?

Mike Preston: Harry, that series was a tribute to the offensive genius of Brian Billick when he was the head coach here. It appeared as if the Ravens hadn't practiced all week. At least Billick would have gotten a field goal from Matt Stover. The Ravens even screwed that up Sunday.

Snooky: Just how bad is this league? When you can play as bad as the Ravens did (and do) and win, you have to wonder. Has the play in general in the NFL deteriorated? Or is it that there is just such widespread mediocrity, I mean parity?

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