Baltimore Ravens:Some Questions Are Secondary

Baltimore Ravens Fullback Leach scores a TD last night in the first half.

When Baltimore Ravens safety Michael Huff left the Oakland Raiders in the off-season and signed a three-year six million dollar deal to get out of the black hole in Oakland, he envisioned the opportunity to leave the abyss of the National Football League for greener pastures.  Maybe after last night, he wishes he’d get sucked back into that hole.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning treated the Baltimore Ravens overhauled secondary like he was a bull in a china shop, destroying everything in his path to the end zone on a record tying seven occasions. Outscoring the opposition 35-10 in the second half and putting the exclamation point on one the largest margins of defeat for a defending Super Bowl champion to open the new campaign.

Leading into the season opener many pundits felt the Ravens were “better” on defense, due to the fact they got younger and faster in the back seven. Unfortunately for Baltimore those attributes don’t always translate to stellar play or wins. Ask any coaching staff worth it’s salt which they would rather have, fast and athletic or smart and strong.

Look at the personnel lost from last seasons championship defense, when playing against an elite passer you better have a safety tandem that knows without a doubt where the weakness or deficiency of each offensive unit lies. Free safety Ed Reed now of the Houston Texans and strong safety Bernanrd Pollard now of the Tennessee Titans knew exactly when and how to stress the oppositions passing game.

Forget the youth and speed acquisitions the Ravens made this off-season. In the chess game of life that is pro football you better have thinkers that understand what check downs the opponents signal caller sees, otherwise you will see more of the same from last nights debacle at Mile High.

Most followers of the game need to see a sample size of three to five games in order to diagnose the Ravens deficiencies  moving forward those that hold Baltimore in high regard will certainly need to see a lot better performance out of the back-end of the defense in order to truly feel this revamped unit has any chance to defend what they won last February.

Aside from age and decline in speed, the biggest reason for the roster purge in Baltimore can be found at Joe Flacco’s bank account. The Ravens put their quarterback with the top five highest paid field generals in the game this off-season. After his playoff performance in 2012 some felt  Flacco was deserving of such a pay-day, but there are others that feel a four game playoff stretch does not make a 20 million dollar a year franchise player.

Ed Reed and Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens

 All the talk last season about whether Flacco was “elite” will now be answered, to stand at the pinnacle with a select few is determined by how much you shine when the weight of the franchise rest squarely on your back. There are no Ray Lewis’s or Ed Reed’s on defense to bail him out if he has a pedestrian game. Case in point the second half last night, Joe will need to be much better through out the season for Baltimore to even have  a chance to defend its crown from a year ago.

 Time, It’s the currency the Ravens have on their side at this moment. It’s also the currency they certainly are not looking to waste, watching the game last night everyone could see with their own eyes which team looked dynamic and which team looked to be calling the game not to lose.

One thing was evident after the clock hit triple zeros. The bland play calling that got Cam Cameron fired for lack of creativity as well as scoring, was still on display.  Jim Caldwell the offensive coordinator who took over in time for the stretch run last season must have found Cam’s old play sheets. What other explanation could one conclude.

It seems as if the loss of sure handed receiver Anquan Bolden and tight end Dennis Pitta could end up being the  albatross around Baltimore’s newly minted 20 million dollar man who pulls him back into the second tier of NFL quarterbacks, to be “elite” there can be no excuses and overcoming the short falls in roster depth is part of the criteria for those few.

As we all witnessed yesterday in prime time at Sports Authority Field in the house that John Elway built, excuses for why the referee didn’t see Wes Welker drop that third down pass that should have resulted in a punt are not permissible in the land of greatness, overcoming bad calls is part of the deal with certain status changes.

Some questions are secondary, and some are not. Unsettled lingering issues on both sides of the ball require one to rise up and lead in turbulent times.  The mess for 30 minutes that was the second half  lead to this 49-27 defeat.  Some Raven faithful still wonder about the decision to trade away the one asset on offense that gave Joe a sense of peace, and to accompany that with the  defection of so many on defense has those believing the storm may be here to stay.