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Enemy Intelligence: Last week’s Baltimore Ravens game

In preparation for this week’s game, I watched last week’s Baltimore Ravens game.  In Week 1, the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home by a final tally of 35-7.  The Steelers turned the ball over 7 times on Sunday, though five of those came after the Ravens had extended their lead to more than 20 points.

Here are some of the things I noticed in watching the game:

  • I was very impressed with quarterback Joe Flacco, who was looking off defenders and throwing downfield with accuracy. I’ve thought for a while he’s an average quarterback whose only plus attribute is arm strength, but he looked like a good quarterback this game. He was not consistently great, but did not make any major errors.
  • Terrell Suggs’ sack and forced fumble came on a stunt where he looped around and came up the middle. The Jaguars killed the Titans with stunts, so I expect to see this play again.
  • Zone blitzes. The Steelers picked it up with RB Moore and TE Miller in the backfield. Can CJ protect? Who’s the second protector?

  • Good power-blocking offensive line that gets consistent push. The new defensive tackles did not fare well in their first test against the Jaguars; can they do better?
  • Team pursuit-BAL did a good job of it, the Titans didn’t.
  • TEs Pitta and Dickson are better athletes than I expected-more move tight ends than power blockers, less complete than Heap, but PIT’s LBs had some issues with them.
  • Es also move-need to be disciplined on crossing routes and pre-snap motion.
  • Bootleg action-they ran it a couple times against the Steelers.
  • Added Ricky Williams-probably a better back than Willis McGahee, and more useful in a limited role. Not so much an extra dimension as a different player.
  • Wideout Lee Evans apparently added a key element of speed, but wasn’t on the same page as Flacco early. If he plays, do you respond to him or let them beat you going to him?
  • An accurate quarterback can find holes against the Ravens’ zones. The Ravens may not respect Hasselbeck’s arm the same way they did Roethlisberger’s, so these may not be harder to hit as the defense is more compressed.
  • Ravens cashed in on some good field position, but they also drove the length of the field for 17 points.
  • Haloti Ngata and the Ravens’ other nose tackle, Terence “Mount Cody”, will obviously pose difficult challenges for the Titans’ leaky interior. They don’t have the quickness of Jaguars’ DT Alualu, but they’re big and strong.
  • The Steelers thought they could win 1v1 against the Ravens’ corners, particularly with Mike Wallace. I’d expect the Titans again to try to isolate Britt 1v1 against either corner and then throw him the ball.

I’m not any more optimistic about Sunday’s game than I was before watching last Sunday’s Ravens game, but I do feel like I have a better idea of what I might see.