NFL: Counting Down to Kickoff – Day 10, Baltimore Ravens

Updated: August 13, 2014
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Day 10: Baltimore Ravens

Fun fact: the Baltimore “Ravens” is a literary reference to one of Baltimore’s most esteemed writers, Edgar Allan Poe. Indeed, the Ravens are named after Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven.” It’s a fantastic poem, and an excellent example of American Romanticism at its best, intertwining love and death — and more love — and more death. That’s Romanticism in a nutshell: I love you so much I have to kill you; or, I love you so much that when you die, I have to die as well.

Basically, it’s any song written by H.I.M or The 69 Eyes.

Accordingly, using the theme of Romanticism is appropriate, I think, for examining the Ravens this season. Which players have the potential to fulfill some deep-seeded romantic desire to love us and kill us (metaphorically, obviously) this season? Let’s take a look.

Joe Flacco: He’s a crafty one, he is. First, Flacco needs a brow waxing. That might enable him to see the field just a bit better. Last year he couldn’t see much of anything clearly, as evidenced by his 19-touchdown to 22-interception ratio. On the other hand, he also threw for a career-high 3,912 yards. That problematic disparity can most likely be traced to the Ravens’ lack of a run game. Flacco was forced to take too many chances (resulting in those picks), yet the increased passing yards helped keep them in games.

Hopefully, the presence of Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator can help Flacco take a positive step forward — or, at least, not take a step back (I see you, Matt Schaub). In an ideal world, Flacco would be an effective game-manager, albeit one with a cannon for an arm.

Running Backs: And speaking of loving someone so much that you need to inflict harm on them…ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Ray Rice. When he’s not gently dragging his wife’s prostrate body out of an elevator, he’s watching his career fall off the face of the earth due to…what, exactly? Last year Rice dealt with some nagging injuries but still managed to play in 15 games. The problem was that in those 15 games, he was nothing short of atrocious. He averaged 3.1 yards per carry and rushed for only 660 yards. Rice’s earth-shaking backup, Bernard Pierce, was equally as miserable, averaging only 2.9 yards per carry. If you’re keeping score, those averages between the two were good for last in the league.

The simple fact was that while the offensive line was terrible (and, wow, was it ever), Rice and Pierce simply didn’t do much of anything when they had the chance. That needs to change this year. Rice is suspended for the first two games (can we call it Elevatorgate?) and during that time Pierce needs to show what he’s got.

Steve Smith: This is a guy I love. He competes every game, he leaves it all out on the field — every cliché you can think of, Smith embodies. Truly, it’s weird to see him in a uniform other than Carolina blue. But I won’t put him on my fantasy team unless I can get him at an absolute rock-bottom price. Baltimore brought him in to be a threat opposite Torrey Smith, but the obvious question is whether he can really be that guy anymore. He turned 35 in May, and there’s only so long a body can hold up in the NFL.

Though he still has the competitive fire, how much can he actually give the Ravens on the field? He had only 745 yards receiving for the Panthers last year, though they also had no other receiving options (other than Greg Olsen) to take coverage away from him. In contrast, the Ravens have a star in the making in Torrey Smith, as well as two more-than-solid tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels. As well, Baltimore wants to get back to a ground-and-pound offense; Kubiak’s one-cut run scheme will help with that. If Steve Smith can give them 850 receiving yards, plus 5-6 touchdowns — thereby helping the offense matriculate the ball down the field — I’d have to think the Ravens would be pleased with their acquisition.

The great thing about Steve Smith is that he’ll compete until he simply can’t go anymore. He loves the game so much I think he’d die on the field if he could. Sounds…romantic.



One Comment

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    Joaquin Sartin

    November 26, 2019 at 8:36 am

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