Each week, Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions about the previous week's game, the upcoming game and the status of the Ravens as a whole. This week, Preston addresses the Ravens' strategy of throwing check-down passes on third down, Joe Flacco's pocket presence, Cam Cameron's and Ray Lewis' future.
Greg: Why??? On third and 10 do we dump down to Ray Rice all the TIME. I don't understand it. A win is a win but c'mon man we throw up and down the field the first half then for some reason we forget how to throw the ball.
Mike Preston: That strategy cost the Ravens the New England game. I say when you have your foot on the opponents throat, you keep doing what you are doing. But, as diehard Ravens fans say, a win is a win. We'll see how far that strategy takes the Ravens, but I hope they don't employ it against teams with great quarterbacks.
George: The Ravens run game the last couple of weeks has not been going as great as expected while playing teams with poor rushing defenses. With that being said what should we expect with Michael Oher and Le'Ron McClain both injured this game? The Ravens actually seem to get a good push up front to finish off the game, but not so much early on.
Mike Preston: It was inspiring to see the Ravens effort at the end of the game, especially when Tampa Bay knew they were going to run. I would like to see the Ravens run more often. The winter is here and the weather is unpredictable. On the East Coast, you have to run the rock, and be able to stop it. It's not hard to figure out.
Liam: Why does Joe Flacco continue to try to outrun defenses laterally on pass rushes rather than stepping up into the pocket and prolonging the play?
Mike Preston: Liam, Flacco has very little pocket awareness and scares me whenever he gets outside of the tackle box. Almost every quarterback has some limitations or areas in which they struggle, and those are Flacco's areas of weakness.
:Jay: I am getting tired of every time I watch the Chargers play and see Antwan Barnes make a play I cannot help and think how he should still be on the Ravens. I have always liked him. Did he do something to end up in Harbaugh's doghouse that we did not know?
Mike Preston: I think Harbaugh could have worked harder to get more out of Barnes, just like he needs to work harder to get more out of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Harbaugh says he doesn't have a doghouse, so we'll just call it a kennel. Barnes, though, wasn't the brightest guy in the world, and like Ellerbe, had a brashness that irritates Harbaugh.
Stuart: OK, I know the season still has a long way to go, but... What would you think of trying to resign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, letting Derrick Mason go and putting David Reed in as the third receiver next year?
Mike Preston: I'm fine with the Houshmandzadeh deal, and I think he would go for it as well. I think you are forgetting about Donte' Stallworth. He would be the No. 3. With his speed, I don't understand why the Ravens don't get him a few touches per game. Even if he doesn't get the ball, I'd still run him deep several times a game just to make defenses back off. David Reed, though, would be allowed to compete for the job with Stallworth, but he would probably end up No. 4
Louie: Has Ellerbe been deactivated for the last two games? What's going on there? Is he still in Harbs' doghouse? The Ravens need him at LB.
Mike Preston: Yes, he is in the kennel. He might get out sometime soon, but only if we stop asking for him. Coaches don't want it to appear as if they caved in. But we're not talking about caving in, we're talking about wins and losses, especially with some quality teams coming up on the schedule.
Chris: I know this is looking ahead a bit, but will the Ravens be stuck with Cam [Cameron]next year calling the plays? In my opinion he is a horrible game manager. The offense waited to long to commit to the run after building a 17-3 lead against one of the worst run defenses in the league. This guy's play book may be decent, but he has no feel for calling plays inside the context of the games.
Mike Preston: Chris, your point is well taken, and I agree with Cameron's lack of feel for a game. But at the same time, he has done a pretty decent job here overall. I have some issues, but not nearly enough to relieve him of his job. Let's see what happens in the postseason with this group before we reach a final verdict.
Aaron: Flacco seems to be consistently getting many yards, high QB rating,etc. Yet the Ravens offense is not producing points. What is going on?
Mike Preston: Flacco is building up a lot of yards and not a lot of points because the Ravens attack in the middle of the field but not inside the red zone. Overall, they appear to be very conservative inside the red zone when it comes to throwing the ball. Also, keep an eye on the number of big-time NFL throws Flacco makes a game. There aren't many. As I just wrote, we'll see what happens in the postseason. By then, we should be able to get more a big picture with Flacco as well as Cameron.
John: I'm noticing more passes being thrown in front of Ray Lewis. Has he become a target for the opposing offense?
Mike Preston: Yes, he has and it has been that way for the last four years now. Unfortunately, Lewis doesn't want to come off the field. Unfortunately for the Ravens, they don't have a better linebacker on the roster who can force the issue and replace Lewis on third down.