1. Jacoby’s Return- Wide Receiver Jacoby Jones returned to the field yesterday for the first time since week one and he made an immediate impact. Although he only played situationally on offense and only returned a few kickoff, he was making plays when he had the ball in his hands. He caught a touchdown pass, hauled in a great catch for a 31 yard gain and averaged 25.5 yards per return on kickoffs. It was nice to see Jones back on the field and moving around well. It would appear that he will start to see more time on offense and help make big plays for a struggling unit.
2. Panic time for O-Line- I talk about this group every week and even though I try to find other things to bring up, I always end up back to these 5. When it is so noticeable that this offensive line is holding back the offense, it is hard not to mention them every week. New left tackle Eugene Monroe was solid in his debut, but did little to help improve the run game. And how about the interior lineman allowing a middle linebacker to have three sacks in the game. That is unacceptable, and I think it is finally time to let A.Q. Shipley take over for the struggling Gino Gradkowski. Finally, this unit needs to take more pride in their job. The fact that they couldn’t get enough push, or open up a hole to score on that second quarter goal line stand by the Packers is embarrassing. I’ve been saying it for a while now, but it is time to start moving quarterback Joe Flacco out of the pocket more or calling more designed plays, so he gets the ball out of his hands quickly.
3. Pass rush steps up- It has been a pleasant surprise this year to see the Ravens have a constant pass rush. The past few years the team has struggled to generate much of a push against opposing teams, which was always frustrating to watch. Now, it seems like almost every play the quarterback is under duress. Yesterday was no exception, as the Ravens were forcing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers out of the pocket all day. Elvis Dumervil had a strong game with two sacks, validating the big contract he was given this offseason.
4. Run defense doesn’t show up- Earlier this week I talked about the newfound rushing attack of the Green Bay Packers, and they ran all over the Ravens on Sunday. Rookie Eddie Lacy finished with 120 yards and averaged over 5 yards a carry. That is just bad for a defense that prides itself on stopping the run. Seeing this stat line alone would’ve told me Baltimore would have lost this week. You can’t expect to beat Aaron Rodgers if he has a run game. That was the difference in the game, as the Ravens defense couldn’t get off the field in the fourth quarter to give the offense one last chance at winning the game. After only being one week removed from giving up just 22 yards, this was a disappointing performance from this group.
5. Despite struggles, almost stole this one- It is actually quite remarkable that despite the inconsistent play of this team that they are still able to remain in these games. Even though they were shut out in the first half at home against the Packers, they were only down six points. The defense picked up the slack for the offense, and then the offense started to put up points in the second half. I’d say that is the only bright spot in all of these poor performances. Despite how frustrating it can be to watch this team, they still almost find ways to win these games in the end. It almost happened yesterday, and it almost happened a few weeks ago in Buffalo. And considering how weak the AFC North is this year, 9-7 or 10-6 could easily win the division this year. I’m not saying the team should be complacent at all with their performances, but we all know how well this team does once they get to the playoffs. Of course, they have to actually play well enough in the regular season to qualify, so they are going to have to figure out some things, like their run game and slow-starting offense. There is still some time, but they will have to start solving some of their problems to remain this competitive.