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Ravens Mid-Season Report Card

Bengals Ravens Football

Eight weeks have quickly passed in the 2009 NFL season and it’s time to take a closer look at what the Baltimore Ravens did and maybe where they are headed.

It’s the teacher in me that feels the need to grade and assess progress I guess. It might have made a little more sense to do it last week during the bye but it only seemed fair to have the proper sample size.

So please join the Ravens Gab staff as we give our insights into the first half of the season and please feel free to give your comments at the bottom.

You always need a scorecard to know the players so please not the key below.

Matt JergensenMJ
Jonathan ScruggsJS
Gene WinnerGW

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OVERALL OFFENSE:

MJ – B+

Easily the most prolific offense in franchise history so far. I’m still getting used to the idea that scoring touchdowns are an acceptable way to win games since being conditioned to accept Coach Billick’s “Dark side” philosophy for so many years.

JS – B+

Much better than expected. Still have much to accomplish however. The dangerous tandem of Ray Rice and Joe Flacco has other teams quaking in their boots.

GW – B+

Ranks as one of the best offenses in team history.

QUARTERBACK:

MJ – A

Joe Flacco continues to develop at a rapid rate. His low key demeanor is a perfect fit for the Baltimore crowd and his laser right arm will keep this offense humming for years.

JS – A-

No one knew what to expect out of Joe Flacco as he embarked on his sophomore season. He’s been wowing opposing defenses with his powerful arm and instinctive pocket presence since moment one.

GW – A

Flacco has composure beyond his years.

RUNNING BACKS:

MJ – B

The three headed monster went from two to one in eight weeks. Rice is a superstar in the making. Make no mistake they will need McGahee down the stretch.

JS – B+

Ray Rice is an absolute monster. Willis started off blazing hot before being pushed to the backburner. Le’Ron still has the talent and has developed into a solid blocker.

GW – B+

Ray Rice is dynamite! Let’s see more of McClain and McGahee

RECEIVERS/TIGHT END:

MJ – B

Mason is a pro, Clayton shows flashes of brilliance, KWash can catch and dance and Heap is effective once again. An APB is still out for Demetrius Williams.

JS – B

Derrick Mason has been as dependable as ever. Mark Clayton still struggles with inconsistency. Kelley Washington is quickly developing into a solid 3rd down option.

Todd Heap has found the fountain of youth this year and has managed to stay healthy. L.J. Smith has had little impact but looks to reinsert himself in the offense the second he gets the chance.

GW – B/C

We’re all happy Mason didn’t retire. Heap can still make plays, but in Cam’s offense the TE’s do a lot of blocking.

OFFENSIVE LINE:

MJ – B+

This has the makings of a great group. Birk has been solid and Oher has been a monster.

JS – A-

They don’t always play the most exciting brand of football, but this young Offensive Line has been impressive through the first half of the season. The guards need work, and Matt Birk does seem to be struggling at times, but you have to excited about Gaither and Oher on the bookends.

GW – B+

This O-line has to be one of the tops in the league.

NFL/

OVERALL DEFENSE:

MJ – C-

Take away the Denver game and they deserve a D for deplorable. The days of dominance are over.

JS – B-

Not the same ferocious and feared Defense it once was. Mistakes in fundamentals, and mistakes on penalties have severely handicapped this once proud unit.

GW – C-

We have high standards for Defense in Baltimore.

DEFENSIVE LINE

MJ – B-

The line played well until two 100 yard plus rushing games showed cracks in the team’s greatest strength. Gregg hasn’t been the same since his return.

JS – B

A solid unit, but one which needs to find a way to win its 1 on 1 matchups and get to the Quarterback. The Broncos game was a much needed revelation into what this unit could be.

GW – C

LINEBACKERS:

MJ – B

Lewis still can make plays and lead a defense. Finding Bart Scott’s replacment has proved more difficult than thought but Jarret Johnson has stepped up in a big way this season.

JS – B+

The heart of this Defense has once again remained strong. Jared Johnson is having a career year, Ray Lewis has not lost anything in his 14th season. Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe have all shown that they will be formidable for years to come.

GW – B

Ray Lewis, the “Stop” in San Diego was sensational. “Double J” is having a great year.

SECONDARY:

MJ – C-

The unit showed signs of correcting a poor first half against Denver. Reed is starting to pick up steam just as he did last season.

JS – C

I hesitate to rank this unit lower. The corners have been the biggest weak spot on this Ravens team. They have cost the team victories on more than one occasion. The only saving grace in the Secondary has been the play of Ed Reed. The man is simply unstoppable. I’d like to speak more about Dawan Landry, but he’s been a ghost. Absolutely ineffective.

GW – C-

Ed Reed gets a ‘B’ and below par for the rest.

sam_koch

SPECIAL TEAMS

MJ- B-

Hauschka has been decent with field goals (of course minus a game winner) but he only has three touchbacks this season. Wasn’t that the main reason they cut Stover loose? Koch has been solid but is off his spectaular ability to hit inside the ten from a season ago..

JS – B+

Sam Koch continues to dominate other teams with his strong right leg. Steve Hauschka missed a crucial FG which cost the Ravens a victory in Minneapolis. This is a unit which is getting better but still needs work.

GW – B

Improving every week.

COVERAGE:

MJ – C+

The unit has been okay and certainly showed fire in last week’s win.

JS- B

An absolutely stellar game against the Broncos has hopefully returned confidence to this unit. When it’s on it’s great, when it’s off they’re run of the mill but still very strong.

GW – B

Koch is stellar.

RETURN GAME

MJ – C+

Webb is a legitimate threat to take it back every time. Just keep giving him reps. Carr has been unmipressive and indecisive for a veteran returner.

JS – C+

Lardarius Webb is emerging as a legitimate return threat. Chris Carr has been a rousing disappointment.

GW – B

We have a returner in Lardarius Webb!

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COACHING:

MJ – B

Harbaugh talks a good game about discipline yet the team is still one of the most penalized in the league. I like what Cameron has done with the offense but this team needs balance to win. Mattison appears to have adjusted from early setbacks.

JS- B

This is a coaching staff who has all the talents to be an undefeated squad. They’re doing a great job with setting the plan and the schemes, but have lost sight of coaching the most important aspect of the game, Fundamentals. Additionally more discipline is needed to stem the wave of Penalties the team has taken so far this season.

GW – B

Def. Coordinator Mattison rebounded well last game, but if we are grading him for just the first half of the season you have to give him a below average grade (C-). Cam Cameron‘s receives a B+, Cameron is probably one of the top offensive coordinators in the NFL. You have to like Coach Harbaugh, he has been an influential part of this team’s success.

DerrickMason

OVERALL

MJ – B

This team has lost so many close games that they could easily be 7-0 and just as easily could be 2-5. It is clear though that they have the talent to match with any team in the AFC.

JS – B+

Although the Ravens stand at a mediocre 4-3 at the midway point, they’re record belies just how good this team really is. All three losses were by under 6 points and literally came down to the final plays of the game.

GW – C

With the Ravens at 4-3 the team receives a C. Let’s face it, the team could easily be 5-2 and if that were the case they would receive an easy B.

OFFENSIVE MVP

MJ – Joe Flacco

After years of settling for mediocrity under center Baltimore finally has a leader at the helm of the offense. He makes at least one play a week that shows he’s a special player.

JS- Ray Rice

I’m tempted to go with Joe Flacco here, but Ray has been absolutely electrifying in his sophomore season. Leading the league in all purpose yards, there’s not a team in the league who has had an answer for him. He may be small, but he’s got enormous talent.

GW – Ray Rice

Co-MVP’s: Flacco & Mason. Honorable Mention: Kelly Washington & LeRon McClain

DEFENSIVE MVP

MJ- Jarret Johnson

The team leader in sacks (5) who has stepped up his game with the absence of Bart Scott.

JS- Jarrett Johnson

The unsung hero of this Defense so far. He’s not as flashy as some of the other members of this unit, but he has been out there giving it 150% every single down and every single play. His motor simply does not stop, and its an absolute shame that he does not get more of the attention he so richly deserves.

GW- Ed Reed

Co-MVP’s: Ray Lewis & Jarrett Johnson

TOP ROOKIE

MJ – Michael Oher

The monster is out of the cage! He’s an intelligent player with a nasty side. I only shudder to think what he’ll look like with a few years of NFL experience under his belt.

JS – Michael Oher

This kid has been an absolute rock no matter which end of the line you put him on. He clearly has some maturity issues with the number of dumb penalties, but with continued growth, this talented tackle is going to be something special.

GW- Michael Oher

(Honorable mention: Lardarius Webb)

COMMENTS

MJ – This team could walk a similar path back to the AFC Title game. However they have a much tougher stretch of games to navigate with Indianapolis and Pittsburgh twice. They have the talent but must put all three phases together to prove they can beat the elite teams.

JS – This is a team that is standing on the door step of greatness. They have all the necessary tools to take them back to the AFC Championship game and beyond. The only glaring weakness is their inability to play fundamentally sound football. If they can shore up the minor weaknesses in their technique and attitudes, then there is no reason why they cannot ascend to the highest levels of the game. A tough road lies ahead, but it’s not anything this team cannot overcome.

GW- Defense
If it wasn’t for that stop by Ray Lewis in San Diego and the turnaround in the Denver game, the defense would probably receive a failing grade. If the Denver game is the type of defense Maittison will be calling from now on then the unit will be in good shape. For the secondary it’s all about confidence, attitude and being in the right position. The Defensive line substitutions have been a good idea and LB Darnell Ellerbe is impressive in the line up.

Offense
Cam Cameron has totally revamped this unit’s mindset, they can score! This unit would have received a grade of an ‘A’ but it had 2 missed opportunities to close out games. If the offense can consistently put teams away they will be dangerous. Flacco and Rice are awesome, along with an excellent offensive line they can only improve. Even though Ray Rice is having a spectacular season, you have to think that McClain and McGahee need to have more touches in order to keep Ray Rice fresh.


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