Chat Off!! Friday: Baltimore Beatdown & FootballCentral

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Some of you may have heard that there is to be a contest of strength, skill, and cunning this Saturday on the gridiron of New England against a team from Baltimore who's name I shall not now quoth.
 
In anticipation for this tilt, we have arranged a collaborative Q&A whereby Matthew Stevens (@MatthewS_balt) of Baltimore Beatdown, a Ravens focused website, will answer our questions on Friday, while our very own Chuck Zodda (@SOSH_ChuckZ) and Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield) will answer Baltimore Beatdown reader questions in turn, so you all can see what the Baltimore fans think of and want to know about the Pats. (We'll let you know where to find it.)
 
Leading up to this grand engagement (and, of course, the subsequent game), in addition to the coverage we have forthcoming, there will be an exchange of what each perceives as the keys to the game for the other team; we will make them available here when the time comes.
 
In the meantime, please post questions you have for Matthew so we can get a good conversation going.
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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Thanks for setting this up / agreeing to it / whatever.
 
When Baltimore's D-Line has struggled to get penetration, what have been the major factors behind their opponents stopping them?  Is it a technique or style mismatch?  Pure all-world talent?  Getting burned on play-actions / screens?  What if anything has neutralized Baltimore's D-Line this year?
 

IdiotKicker

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The Ravens are now on their third long snapper of the year and gave up a blocked punt due to a high snap last week against Pittsburgh. How much of a concern is this heading into this matchup?
 

j-man

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BTW if NE DEN move on  i can help with denver Q  and i know the head writers  At predominant  Orange and mile high report   both broncos blogs as well     
 

dynomite

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Thanks for doing and organizing this, all.

1) Obviously Joe Flacco is in the midst of an incredible playoff streak (13 TDs, 0 INTs, 5 straight wins including a Super Bowl). From your perspective, what's going on? Is Playoff Flacco a different QB? If so, what does he do differently than Regular Flacco, and why doesn't he do it more often? Or is this just the result of a small sample size? Do people overrate Playoff Flacco or underrate Regular Flacco?

2) Ladarius Webb built a reputation as one of the most underrated CBs in football over the past few years. This year, though, advanced statistics (ProFootballFocus, primarily) show he took a step back. Do you agree with that assessment, and if so how much of that regression do you attribute to injury?
 

soxfan121

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1) How has Harbaugh "kept them together" given the off-field turmoil? Is there a different motivation or vibe coming out of the locker room this season than in the past? Who has taken up the leadership mantle from Lewis, Reed & Boldin?
 
2) How did Ngata look in his first game back? How was his play before the suspension?
 
3) What is the fanbase's  assessment of Dean Pees as the defensive coordinator? How has he put his mark on a team known for its defensive system?
 
4) What can you tell us about the secondary? How has Matt Elam developed?
 
5) Is Arthur Brown in the witness protection program?
 

BBMatthewStevens

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MentalDisabldLst said:
Thanks for setting this up / agreeing to it / whatever.
 
When Baltimore's D-Line has struggled to get penetration, what have been the major factors behind their opponents stopping them?  Is it a technique or style mismatch?  Pure all-world talent?  Getting burned on play-actions / screens?  What if anything has neutralized Baltimore's D-Line this year?
Not a problem at all. 
 
The biggest thing that has stopped the D-Line has either been lack of execution on their part (no real reason why they didn't get penetration other than a lack of effort at times) or it has been because the offense has gotten the ball out quickly by using quick slants, screens or dump offs.
 
I strongly believe this is the best defensive line in the NFL across the board at stopping the run and at getting to the quarterback. If you look at last week's game at Pittsburgh, the Ravens front 4 were able to not only get penetration, but was able to wrestle down Big Ben usually before he had a chance to hit the quick passes the Steelers designed.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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Chuck Z said:
The Ravens are now on their third long snapper of the year and gave up a blocked punt due to a high snap last week against Pittsburgh. How much of a concern is this heading into this matchup?
 
Really, this isn't much of an issue. While the Ravens are on their third long snapper of the year, that has been the only hiccup at this time and it looked to be more nerves than anything as he snapped the ball a little high. Given that Harbaugh is a special teams kind of guy, I'm sure the Ravens are going to practice that snap extensively this week to ensure that things go smoothly.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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j-man said:
how are u going to cover Gronk    
That is going to be the big question for any team that New England will play. I think that the Ravens will use a similar tactic from what they did during the match-up against the Saints this season and Jimmy Graham. Obviously different players with totally different styles, but if you can get a hand on Gronk off the line and slow him down, it will give the pass rush enough time to get to Brady and create better situations for the Ravens to capitalize on. Gronk will get his yards, I'm sure, but slowing him down at the line is exactly how you stop any tight end from hurting you.
 
Now it becomes a question of who will be the one in charge of that shove? Is it Suggs coming off the edge? Is it Daryl Smith or Mosley? Or do the Ravens bring up Matt Elam the strong safety and try to get him to hit him at the line and then mirror him afterwards? That is something we will have to see come gametime unfortunately, but I expect a mix of those in all reality as the Ravens will want to show different looks defensively.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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j-man said:
BTW if NE DEN move on  i can help with denver Q  and i know the head writers  At predominant  Orange and mile high report   both broncos blogs as well     
No worries, I'd love to be back next week if the Ravens move on too ;)
 

mascho

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Hey Matt - Thanks for doing this with us.
 
1) How important has Brandon Williams been defensively for you guys in 2014. It seems like he has added another element to a talented defense in the interior. 
 
2) Can you talk about the development of CJ Mosley. It seems like he has been tasked with a lot for this defense - starting on the inside, playing as a three-down linebacker - and looks great on film. Thoughts on him?
 
3) What do you think about the relationship betwen Flacco and Steve Smith? It seems like the two have a high level of trust, with Flacco willing to throw him the ball in tight windows and in traffic, trusting that Smith will fight for hte ball and win. Very similar to the relationship between Flacco and Boldin.
 
4) Some over here (myself included) loved Lorenzo Talliferro in the run-up to the draft. Given the influx at the running back position this year, how important a role has this rookie played for you guys.
 
Thanks!
 

BBMatthewStevens

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dynomite said:
Thanks for doing and organizing this, all.

1) Obviously Joe Flacco is in the midst of an incredible playoff streak (13 TDs, 0 INTs, 5 straight wins including a Super Bowl). From your perspective, what's going on? Is Playoff Flacco a different QB? If so, what does he do differently than Regular Flacco, and why doesn't he do it more often? Or is this just the result of a small sample size? Do people overrate Playoff Flacco or underrate Regular Flacco?

2) Ladarius Webb built a reputation as one of the most underrated CBs in football over the past few years. This year, though, advanced statistics (ProFootballFocus, primarily) show he took a step back. Do you agree with that assessment, and if so how much of that regression do you attribute to injury?
1) First off, I think people underrate regular Flacco. His stats aren't the prettiest, so I can understand why he doesn't feel the love; but when you look at his win/loss record and the type of games he has put up in the regular season despite a rather inept receiving corps, it becomes far more interesting. I'm not a huge fan of the idea of "clutch" players, the guys that show up when the chips are stacked against them... but then January Joe does what he does in the playoffs (Peyton Manning is the opposite) and I think that I'm an idiot again. It could be that this team under Harbaugh punches up a weight class at times just like they have lost to some teams that shouldn't even be on the field with the Ravens. This team as a whole just tends to play better when the chips are stacked against them and the increased play from his receivers, offensive line and rushers allows Flacco to be January Joe.
 
2) Webb has been a rather interesting case this year especially. He is a guy that I suspect the Ravens renegotiate his contract because he has been hurt so often over his career that he doesn't really deserve the top dollar he is earning right now. But yes, this season he has been mediocre until just recently when he has obviously knocked some of the rust off and is playing more like his old self. I attribute almost all of that to the injuries as well as the bad play of the safeties above him earlier in the year. Now that he is finally 100% and the safety situation is figured out, Webb has been playing better. Even with that being said, he is still getting beat at times by faster guys and I'm guessing that he just doesn't have the top end speed that he had a year or two ago.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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soxfan121 said:
1) How has Harbaugh "kept them together" given the off-field turmoil? Is there a different motivation or vibe coming out of the locker room this season than in the past? Who has taken up the leadership mantle from Lewis, Reed & Boldin?
 
2) How did Ngata look in his first game back? How was his play before the suspension?
 
3) What is the fanbase's  assessment of Dean Pees as the defensive coordinator? How has he put his mark on a team known for its defensive system?
 
4) What can you tell us about the secondary? How has Matt Elam developed?
 
5) Is Arthur Brown in the witness protection program?
1) As I touched on another question, Harbaugh is really a master motivator. He sucks at time management, game management and the Xs and Os portion of football and that has come back to kick him in the ass at times. However, no one is better in the NFL at establishing a fire in players, both veterans and rookies. A large portion of what he is able to do is to establish that this team is unrespected and underrated, which has worked so well with the offseason issues on getting these guys to buy into it. But I will say that it is pretty much the same vibe coming out of the locker room every year, just this one has some meat to it. The leadership role has been split around a little more and there isn't really a single guy that I think is the unquestioned leader like in the past. Steve Smith, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Daryl Smith all have their place in this team as leaders due to their success in the past and their age but there just isn't 1 guy sitting in the middle of a team huddle screaming about God any longer and I think that has actually been a benefit as that was growing old on the younger players.
 
2) Ngata looked great. The backstory on his suspension was that he was hooked on Adderall in order to stay up with his wife and new baby. So it wasn't necessarily as performance enhancing for him as some media publications made it out to be. I think he was dominant before the suspension and he has been just as much of a force after. If anything, the suspension was a good thing on two front because the Ravens get a Pro Bowl caliber player back fresh entering the playoffs and they also know that they can sustain not having him back next season. That leverage will see him likely redo his $16 million cap hit contract next season and save the Ravens a boatload of money.
 
3) Dean Pees is vanilla. He won't create a new scheme and he won't be all that inventive with his blitzes or disguising the coverage like you've probably seen from this team before. However, he has put together top 10 defenses since he has been here so it clearly works to an extent. Fans hate him because they are used to seeing crazy blitzes that force Ngata to play Free Safety and send in Lardarius Webb as a delayed blitzer all while having no one on the line at the snap. So we as a fanbase are kinda spoiled a bit and are coming back to reality with the idea that those types of schemes aren't really sustainable. This year, he has been rather masterful in handling so many guys going on IR in the secondary. His scheme might depend solely on guys beating their man, but it is working this year.
 
4) Matt Elam shouldn't be in coverage ever.... No seriously. But he has progressed this year after a bit of a regression earlier. Just like Jimmy Smith, he shows some flashes only to get beat on the next play by being stupid, but the hope is there that he can turn up the level of play once he settles down. The rest of the secondary is patchwork but it has worked recently simply due to the 'next man up' philosophy that we all know and love. The pass rush certainly helps the secondary out in not having to sit on guys for 5 seconds, but they are playing significantly better over the last few weeks than what we've seen all year long.
 
5) Arthur Brown is in the doghouse and I'm still not too sure why. Harbaugh has this weird 'doghouse' as we like to call it and it is growing in fame. If you do something stupid or he doesn't like you... you absolutely will not see action as much or at all. While the Ravens have two really great linebackers in the middle right now, Brown should have been seeing some snaps because he is the heir to Daryl Smith's spot in the next few years and is one hell of a player as it stands. The fact that he just never saw anything on defense and wasn't even seeing the field as a special teams player is the exact reason that we know he is in the doghouse. Hate to say it, but Orr isn't as good as Brown in anything either could do and shouldn't see the field above Brown... yet, he has played 16 games on special teams. Maybe it is part of the motivation thing, I'm not too sure.
 

soxfan121

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BBMatthewStevens said:
Not a problem at all. 
 
The biggest thing that has stopped the D-Line has either been lack of execution on their part (no real reason why they didn't get penetration other than a lack of effort at times) or it has been because the offense has gotten the ball out quickly by using quick slants, screens or dump offs.
 
I strongly believe this is the best defensive line in the NFL across the board at stopping the run and at getting to the quarterback. If you look at last week's game at Pittsburgh, the Ravens front 4 were able to not only get penetration, but was able to wrestle down Big Ben usually before he had a chance to hit the quick passes the Steelers designed.
 
Having seen Detroit, the Jets, and Buffalo (twice), I would dispute the notion that Baltimore's defensive front as the best in the NFL. 
 
However, there is room for debate on such a topic, so I'm curious about what makes the Ravens group the best (of the best). They ranked in the top five of rush defenses (both in YPC allowed and average yards allowed) but a dismal 23rd in passing yards and 17th in yards per attempt allowed. Certainly, some of the struggle against the pass is due to injuries in the secondary and Ngata's absence but enough to make them a top 5/10 unit? I don't see it.
 

EricFeczko

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soxfan121 said:
 
Having seen Detroit, the Jets, and Buffalo (twice), I would dispute the notion that Baltimore's defensive front as the best in the NFL. 
 
However, there is room for debate on such a topic, so I'm curious about what makes the Ravens group the best (of the best). They ranked in the top five of rush defenses (both in YPC allowed and average yards allowed) but a dismal 23rd in passing yards and 17th in yards per attempt allowed. Certainly, some of the struggle against the pass is due to injuries in the secondary and Ngata's absence but enough to make them a top 5/10 unit? I don't see it.
To be fair, there also seems to be a big difference in New England's passing unit between the first and second halfs of the year. Perhaps some adjustments were made, which are hidden statistically when looking at the full season.
 
In looking at week-by-week EPA, it appears that Baltimore's unit was much more successful in the past eight weeks than in the rest of the season. Furthermore, some of the problems with the defensive pass unit appeared in 5 specific games this year: http://www.advancedfootballanalytics.com/index.php/home/tools/vizualizations/advanced-team-stats-viz

I'm curious, was there a shift in how the Baltimore defensive unit played against teams after the abysmal performance in week 9? If so, such a shift may explain the confidence in the defensive unit going into the New England game.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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Mark Schofield said:
Hey Matt - Thanks for doing this with us.
 
1) How important has Brandon Williams been defensively for you guys in 2014. It seems like he has added another element to a talented defense in the interior. 
 
2) Can you talk about the development of CJ Mosley. It seems like he has been tasked with a lot for this defense - starting on the inside, playing as a three-down linebacker - and looks great on film. Thoughts on him?
 
3) What do you think about the relationship betwen Flacco and Steve Smith? It seems like the two have a high level of trust, with Flacco willing to throw him the ball in tight windows and in traffic, trusting that Smith will fight for hte ball and win. Very similar to the relationship between Flacco and Boldin.
 
4) Some over here (myself included) loved Lorenzo Talliferro in the run-up to the draft. Given the influx at the running back position this year, how important a role has this rookie played for you guys.
 
Thanks!
 
1) Brandon Williams has been huge for Baltimore. The defensive line was an area of great depth before the season started, but was one of the most affected areas of the team in terms of injury. While Williams was expected to be a large part of the defense, he has had to go longer stretches without break due to a lack of depth behind him and he has performed masterfully. Another guy that has played incredibly well and is showing flashes of All-Pro talent has been Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan is a guy to keep an eye out for on this game due to his insane strength and surprising speed. 
 
2) C.J. Mosley should easily win the defensive rookie of the year award hands down. He has come in immediately with the work ethic you heard about from his time in Alabama. He's quiet and is a film room freak much like Ray Lewis was. The biggest thing about Mosley is just how smart he is and that intelligence matched up with his work ethic allows him to be around the ball so frequently. Now, I'm not one to immediately pronounce a guy as a replacement for a sure fire HOF linebacker, but damn if Mosley isn't getting me close to saying that. He does need to work a little more on shedding blockers, but with the defensive line that Baltimore has, he hasn't faced a ton of opposition on that front to really worry about it.
 
3) Steve Smith has been a great pickup this year, but he has also had his moments where he drops lots of balls and can lack attention. Every week, we hear from the announcer how Flacco likes to get Smith involved early or else he's known for checking out and we've seen exactly that at times. However, when the rest of the receivers are known for bad hands and route running ability, you throw to the guy that can get open more often and uses his body to protect his quarterback's passes. While Smith is little like Boldin, he has that same intensity and I think Flacco gravitates towards that type of playmaker more.
 
4) Taliaferro was a guy that I wasn't all that primed about after hearing that we picked up a rusher in that spot given Baltimore needs some depth in other spots first, but after checking out his gametape... boy can play! Sadly he is on IR right now, but he had easily won the second running back spot on this team and was the go-to guy for the goal line work. I suspect that if he can pick up his blocking ability, blitz recognition and settle down a little more in the passing game, we will all see a lot more of Taliaferro next season. The question now becomes if the Ravens are ready to let Forsett walk and give him the job completely or if they want to bring in a more complete rusher this draft and leave Taliaferro as the 2 in the 1-2 punch.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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soxfan121 said:
 
Having seen Detroit, the Jets, and Buffalo (twice), I would dispute the notion that Baltimore's defensive front as the best in the NFL. 
 
However, there is room for debate on such a topic, so I'm curious about what makes the Ravens group the best (of the best). They ranked in the top five of rush defenses (both in YPC allowed and average yards allowed) but a dismal 23rd in passing yards and 17th in yards per attempt allowed. Certainly, some of the struggle against the pass is due to injuries in the secondary and Ngata's absence but enough to make them a top 5/10 unit? I don't see it.
That list is a bunch of the best defensive lines in football, but if you look at a total unit, you have to give it to Baltimore. Amassing 49 sacks (second only to Detroit's 54) and third in rushing yards per game (88.3 with only Detroit on that list being better), Baltimore is the cream of the crop in the NFL. This is also to say that the Ravens have faced far more run heavy teams with better rushers than what the others have had to face. According to PFF, the AFC North's offensive lines rank as 8th (Pitt), Cincinatti (7th) and Cleveland (6th). These are the teams that Baltimore plays more frequently, meaning that against any of the teams, Baltimore likely has a higher quality of offensive line to deal with.
 
As far as the passing yards goes, that really comes almost solely to losing their top corner in Jimmy Smith, having Lardarius Webb injured for most of the year and having a total of 19 guys on IR (I don't know the number of them coming from the secondary, but it is absolutely a majority). Look at it this way.... Baltimore is starting Rashaad Melvin, a guy cut from Tampa after week 2 that didn't even start for Tampa's terrible defense. He's the best corner the Ravens have on the team right now! It is a miracle that the pass rush has been able to get home as often as it has when you are absolutely terrible against the pass. Very few defensive lines will be able to get to quarterbacks when they can fire it out almost immediately and yet Baltimore is one of the highest ranked teams in sacks this year.
 
I think there this is the easy case to make that Baltimore is the all-around best defensive line in the league this year. 
 

BBMatthewStevens

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EricFeczko said:
To be fair, there also seems to be a big difference in New England's passing unit between the first and second halfs of the year. Perhaps some adjustments were made, which are hidden statistically when looking at the full season.
 
In looking at week-by-week EPA, it appears that Baltimore's unit was much more successful in the past eight weeks than in the rest of the season. Furthermore, some of the problems with the defensive pass unit appeared in 5 specific games this year: http://www.advancedfootballanalytics.com/index.php/home/tools/vizualizations/advanced-team-stats-viz
I'm curious, was there a shift in how the Baltimore defensive unit played against teams after the abysmal performance in week 9? If so, such a shift may explain the confidence in the defensive unit going into the New England game.
I believe after week 9, the head office and coaches cut almost everyone in the secondary and started from scratch. Lardarius Webb is finally healthy and has been playing better over the last few weeks and the Ravens found their second corner in Rashaad Melvin (cut from Tampa after week 2, but never started a game there). Will Hill also fully came back from his suspension to play safety and has knocked some of the rust off, allowing the Ravens to not have to rely as heavily on Matt Elam in coverage or any of the other safeties that they kept cycling in.
 
The defensive line also was able to really get playing well, as has the pass rush. Both Suggs and Dumervil have significantly more sacks in the second half of the season than the first half.
 
This defense is feeling the most confident it has all season after taking care of the best offense in the league in Pittsburgh. Even though Pitt didn't have Bell, he was largely ineffective in the other games played this season, so he wasn't going to be a major factor in that game anyway. The secondary played brilliantly, and the pass rush abused one of the better offensive lines in the league all game long. Going into New England, I can see the Ravens defense feeling significantly better about it's chances to beat up Tom Brady since he doesn't have quite the same caliber of offensive line and rushing game that Pittsburgh had. 
 

Ferm Sheller

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Baltimore loaded up on sacks against poor teams.  They played 6 playoff teams: Pittsburgh (twice), Cincy (twice), Carolina and Indy, and had 10 sacks total in those 6 games (with 5 coming against Pittsburgh).  Among better non-playoff teams, they didn't have any against Houston, a 9 win team, in a critical game, and only 2 against San Diego, also a 9 win team, in a critical game.  (They had 6 against Miami in week 14, but Miami was pretty piss poor down the stretch.)
 
TO ADD: And Houston threw the ball 42 times and San Diego threw it 45 times.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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Ferm Sheller said:
Baltimore loaded up on sacks against poor teams.  They played 6 playoff teams: Pittsburgh (twice), Cincy (twice), Carolina and Indy, and had 10 sacks total in those 6 games (with 5 coming against Pittsburgh).  Among better non-playoff teams, they didn't have any against Houston, a 9 win team, in a critical game, and only 2 against San Diego, also a 9 win team, in a critical game.  (They had 6 against Miami in week 14, but Miami was pretty piss poor down the stretch.)
 
TO ADD: And Houston threw the ball 42 times and San Diego threw it 45 times.
The same could easily be said about any of the teams with tough defensive lines. The Lions play Chicago and Green Bay twice a year and they aren't on the 15th defensive back. Keep in mind that last week, the Ravens had 5 sacks against Pittsburgh. As I mentioned above, it is amazing that the Ravens pass rush has been able to sack anyone given that quarterbacks can get the ball out quickly due to a terrible secondary. The fact that Houston and San Diego threw it a combined 88 times isn't really indicative of a bad defensive line so much as it is a reminder that the Ravens haven't allowed a hundred yard rusher in quite some time and have one of the worst secondaries playing in the regular season. That imbalance is pretty much a hallmark of a top defensive line if anything.
 

Al Zarilla

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BBMatthewStevens said:
 
1) Brandon Williams has been huge for Baltimore. The defensive line was an area of great depth before the season started, but was one of the most affected areas of the team in terms of injury. While Williams was expected to be a large part of the defense, he has had to go longer stretches without break due to a lack of depth behind him and he has performed masterfully. Another guy that has played incredibly well and is showing flashes of All-Pro talent has been Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan is a guy to keep an eye out for on this game due to his insane strength and surprising speed. 
 
2) C.J. Mosley should easily win the defensive rookie of the year award hands down. He has come in immediately with the work ethic you heard about from his time in Alabama. He's quiet and is a film room freak much like Ray Lewis was. The biggest thing about Mosley is just how smart he is and that intelligence matched up with his work ethic allows him to be around the ball so frequently. Now, I'm not one to immediately pronounce a guy as a replacement for a sure fire HOF linebacker, but damn if Mosley isn't getting me close to saying that. He does need to work a little more on shedding blockers, but with the defensive line that Baltimore has, he hasn't faced a ton of opposition on that front to really worry about it.
 
3) Steve Smith has been a great pickup this year, but he has also had his moments where he drops lots of balls and can lack attention. Every week, we hear from the announcer how Flacco likes to get Smith involved early or else he's known for checking out and we've seen exactly that at times. However, when the rest of the receivers are known for bad hands and route running ability, you throw to the guy that can get open more often and uses his body to protect his quarterback's passes. While Smith is little like Boldin, he has that same intensity and I think Flacco gravitates towards that type of playmaker more.
 
4) Taliaferro was a guy that I wasn't all that primed about after hearing that we picked up a rusher in that spot given Baltimore needs some depth in other spots first, but after checking out his gametape... boy can play! Sadly he is on IR right now, but he had easily won the second running back spot on this team and was the go-to guy for the goal line work. I suspect that if he can pick up his blocking ability, blitz recognition and settle down a little more in the passing game, we will all see a lot more of Taliaferro next season. The question now becomes if the Ravens are ready to let Forsett walk and give him the job completely or if they want to bring in a more complete rusher this draft and leave Taliaferro as the 2 in the 1-2 punch.
Thanks for your insights, but Boldin isn't little. He's listed on Football Ref. at 6'1" 218, and looks bigger than that on TV, at least to me. Sometimes, for a split second when he's catching a pass, I think it's Vernon Davis. 
 

DaughtersofDougMirabelli

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BBMatthewStevens said:
This defense is feeling the most confident it has all season after taking care of the best offense in the league in Pittsburgh. Even though Pitt didn't have Bell, he was largely ineffective in the other games played this season, so he wasn't going to be a major factor in that game anyway. The secondary played brilliantly, and the pass rush abused one of the better offensive lines in the league all game long. Going into New England, I can see the Ravens defense feeling significantly better about it's chances to beat up Tom Brady since he doesn't have quite the same caliber of offensive line and rushing game that Pittsburgh had. 
 
Good stuff here so far but I'd have to highly disagree with this, especially with Bell out. He accounted for 34% of their total yards, and had 109 total yards in the first meeting. He was held at bay in their second meeting but he also split carries with Blount (which wouldn't have happened in this game). I think he would have definitely been a factor in this game (even if the run game was shut down he's still incredibly dangerous out of the backfield, not something you can say about Harris or Tate). 
 
Also Pitt wasn't the best offense in the league by any metric. They were second in yards, but 7th in points scored. This is especially true with their biggest weapon on the sideline. 
 

rodderick

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Al Zarilla said:
Thanks for your insights, but Boldin isn't little. He's listed on Football Ref. at 6'1" 218, and looks bigger than that on TV, at least to me. Sometimes, for a split second when he's catching a pass, I think it's Vernon Davis. 
 
I assume "little like Boldin" meant that Smith doesn't have much in common with Boldin as a receiver.
 

Just a bit outside

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Al Zarilla said:
Thanks for your insights, but Boldin isn't little. He's listed on Football Ref. at 6'1" 218, and looks bigger than that on TV, at least to me. Sometimes, for a split second when he's catching a pass, I think it's Vernon Davis. 
I think he has a typo and missed an a before little.
Edit: slow
 

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Jan 7, 2015
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Al Zarilla said:
Thanks for your insights, but Boldin isn't little. He's listed on Football Ref. at 6'1" 218, and looks bigger than that on TV, at least to me. Sometimes, for a split second when he's catching a pass, I think it's Vernon Davis. 
Ah I meant "little like" as in - they are not very similar players.
 

BBMatthewStevens

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Jan 7, 2015
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DaughtersofDougMirabelli said:
 
Good stuff here so far but I'd have to highly disagree with this, especially with Bell out. He accounted for 34% of their total yards, and had 109 total yards in the first meeting. He was held at bay in their second meeting but he also split carries with Blount (which wouldn't have happened in this game). I think he would have definitely been a factor in this game (even if the run game was shut down he's still incredibly dangerous out of the backfield, not something you can say about Harris or Tate). 
 
Also Pitt wasn't the best offense in the league by any metric. They were second in yards, but 7th in points scored. This is especially true with their biggest weapon on the sideline. 
Very good point, but luckily we have 2 games where Pitt and Baltimore played in the season to really figure out how much Bell was a factor...
 
Week 2 - 11 rushes for 59 yards and 5 receptions for 48 yards/ No touchdowns
 
Week 9  - 10 rushes for 20 yards and 5 receptions for 38 yards and 1 TD
 
Total count: 79 yards rushing on 21 attempts (3.76 ypc) and 86 yards receiving on 10 receptions (8.6 ypr)
Hardly world beating numbers by any means. While you can make the argument that maybe the Ravens keep more in the box to defend against the run or have someone shadow Bell the entire game, therefore opening passing lanes, I think the overall impact that Bell had in the two previous games shows that they likely wouldn't have feared Bell at all given that teams were throwing twice as much as they were rushing it anyway and how Pittsburgh had tossed up 6 passing touchdowns in the previous game. Pittsburgh's entire offensive scheme revolved around quick passes to Brown in order to get some yards after the catch and hopefully slip a tackle. They used the run to help that out, but minimally regardless of if Bell had been in or not.
 
You are correct about the best offense thing. That was something I had meant to fact check but just plain forgot to do and hit post. Good call.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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BBMatthewStevens said:
That list is a bunch of the best defensive lines in football, but if you look at a total unit, you have to give it to Baltimore. Amassing 49 sacks (second only to Detroit's 54) and third in rushing yards per game (88.3 with only Detroit on that list being better), Baltimore is the cream of the crop in the NFL. This is also to say that the Ravens have faced far more run heavy teams with better rushers than what the others have had to face. According to PFF, the AFC North's offensive lines rank as 8th (Pitt), Cincinatti (7th) and Cleveland (6th). These are the teams that Baltimore plays more frequently, meaning that against any of the teams, Baltimore likely has a higher quality of offensive line to deal with.
 
As far as the passing yards goes, that really comes almost solely to losing their top corner in Jimmy Smith, having Lardarius Webb injured for most of the year and having a total of 19 guys on IR (I don't know the number of them coming from the secondary, but it is absolutely a majority). Look at it this way.... Baltimore is starting Rashaad Melvin, a guy cut from Tampa after week 2 that didn't even start for Tampa's terrible defense. He's the best corner the Ravens have on the team right now! It is a miracle that the pass rush has been able to get home as often as it has when you are absolutely terrible against the pass. Very few defensive lines will be able to get to quarterbacks when they can fire it out almost immediately and yet Baltimore is one of the highest ranked teams in sacks this year.
 
I think there this is the easy case to make that Baltimore is the all-around best defensive line in the league this year. 
Your numbers are inaccurate. Baltimore is 4th in the NFL in rushing yards against, not third. Also, Buffalo lead the league with 54 sacks, not Detroit. Minor quibbles that don't detract from your overall point, but worth noting.
 

j-man

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Dec 19, 2012
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BBMatthewStevens said:
No worries, I'd love to be back next week if the Ravens move on too ;)
u are on baitmore Beatdown ?  very cool   i will pop in   this is the same j-man from MHR