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Dime Coverage: Jaguars vs. Ravens Pre-Season #3

Ngata (92) with the Big Splash on Gabbert.

If there’s any game during the Pre-Season that means just a bit more than all the others it’s game number three.

The starters get most of the work, the defense actually blitzes, and you can get a bit of an idea of what your team may look like during the season. It’s the one game that actually looks like real football during this sham of a pre-season but I digress.

There was plenty to like if you’re a Ravens fan when you look up at the scoreboard and see a blowout victory. But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, is it? Let me give some food for thought about tonight’s game.

  • Let me start by saying that the Jacksonville Jaguars looked horrible, awful, and downright putrid in all phases of the game. I can say that with confidence because even the normally reliable Josh Scobee had a chip shot kicked blocked only by Pernell McPhee’s fingertips that sent the kick knuckling into the post. Sure, some of that had to do with the Ravens who looked focused and ready from the first whistle. However the Jags are devoid of talent at too many positions to name. I feel for Jags fans because not only are they clearly going to struggle this season I don’t see much relief for them in the near future. Then again their new owner “The Iron Hedgehog” Shad Khan wants to reward the fan’s loyalty for cheering such a crummy team by moving them to Los Angeles, London, or Narnia. Then again I don’t feel bad for you because it only proves that Baltimore should have gotten the expansion franchise in 1993 and then Art Modell probably moves his team to some other city. Hmm, maybe things work out for a reason? I will give Jacksonville credit for its Monday night victory over the Ravens last season as it was a lone high point in a dismal year. Tonight was a little imaginary payback for that utter fiasco that no doubt cost Baltimore a #1 Seed. End rant.
  • Joe Flacco finished his best pre-season in his career tonight. But as usual I’m not really concerned with stats I was more excited about how he carried himself under center. He looked like a real NFL Quarterback. He checked out of plays at the line of scrimmage. He barked out calls to his teammates. He looked unflustered when the pressure was on. He threw lasers to the sidelines in tight coverage. He seemed at ease in the No-Huddle and was in control. Finally, finally, finally Cam Cameron has let his young quarterback fully take off the training wheels. Perhaps it was all a part of the master plan all along and we fans just needed to be patient since honestly Joe wasn’t supposed to start as a rookie anyway. But he looks ready to take that next step. I won’t use the word elite (Gah, How I hate it) but he looks ready to be the focal point of the offense if teams choose to attempt to eliminate Ray Rice from the game plan. It should be a fun season and he’ll earn a nice extension for his efforts.
  • The Offensive Line did a pretty nice job even without their best player as Marshal Yanda was a scratch tonight. Bryant McKinnie looked better and I think he really has to in order for this group to really click. Kelechi Osemele was very strong at Left Guard as well. I think he’s one of the best five lineman they have so shouldn’t he start – somewhere? The pass protection was very good and the run blocking was improved though not quite where I think they should be.
  • Three Sacks. Haloti Ngata got the first one for the starting defense of the pre-season as he shot through the gap and planted young Gabbert to the turf. Pressure or lack thereof is going to be discussed ad nauseum this season with the absence of Suggs. It was nice to see that Dean Pees isn’t afraid to get creative if he needs to to try and get the Quarterback.
  • Lardarius Webb is going to the Pro Bowl this season. Mark it. He blankets his assignment, and levels runners with a linebacker’s intensity. He had six tackles to lead the team and a pass deflection. I think I found my new uniform for this season. I know he’s a threat but I still don’t get why he’s returning punts. I just don’t like it.
  • Justin Tucker. I said all along that it Billy Cundiff’s job to lose and I still think that even after the young Longhorn was perfect again this evening. Unless Cundiff really collapses I don’t see Tucker getting the nod.
  • The emergence of Ma’ake Kemoeatu is one of the under the radar stories of camp. For the second straight game he started over incumbent Terrence Cody at Nose Tackle who was dealing with a slight hip issue. It doesn’t matter who wins this competition to me as both will see time in the line rotation. I’m just excited that in his second go-round Kemo has seemingly re-invigarated his career.
  • Bernard Pierce showed why he was drafted in the third round tonight. He showed patience and an understanding  of his running lanes as he used power and a slashing ability to gain yardage. He also learned that hurdling NFL players gets you speared. Bobby Rainey is starting to make a believer out of me too. All he does is make plays. Damien Berry also put in another strong performance too though. Knock, Knock. Anthony Allen I’d like to introduce myself. They call me “The Turk”.
  • Tyrod Taylor looked much more comfortable throwing the football tonight throwing two touchdowns and running for another. His one interception was pretty ugly but he threw the ball more crisply and seemed more confident. Curtis Painter was a flawless 3 for 3 and tossed a TD of his own. So if there still a fight for Flacco’s backup? I don’t think so but the Ravens may really want to find a way to keep Painter around too.
  • Sergio Kindle did not suit up tonight. That’s not a good sign for that young man. It may be time for Baltimore to cut bait.

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