I realize that pre-season game wins don't count for much, after all only 4 teams that have had 4 wins in pre-season have made it to the Super Bowl. But what I'm seeing with this years Ravens is dominance, on both defense and offense. The defense shuts out the Redskins, by no means a playoff team but a shutout in any NFL game is a huge accomplishment. This last game against the Panthers just continued that dominance.
Joe Flacco has been amazing as he's rifled passes to all of his receivers and running back Ray Rice, who while not gaining many yards running the ball amassed quite a few of on passing plays. Todd Heap has become an intricate part of the offense once again making those acrobatic catches and gathering in touchdown throws. The one he caught against the Panthers wasn't an easy catch as he had to extend at the last second and bring the ball in off of his fingertips. Derrick Mason looks like he could play another 5 years and still be one of the best to ever play the game. The entire offense looks much better then they did last season even if it has only been in pre-season games.
The defense has looked intimidating to say the least. The depth the team has this year may well be the best ever. The linebacking corps may be the best in the league, and the defensive line isn't much further behind. Cornerback Domonique Foxworth has really been shutting down receivers and just might turn out to be that big time corner the Ravens lost when they let Chris McAlister go. The entire secondary has played well and will only get better as the season progresses and they gain trust in one another.
Chris Carr looks like he'll win out as the kick return specialist, which may leave Yamon Figurs looking for work in the not too distant future. The special teams have done a good job defending on both kickoffs and punt returns and seem to have finally digested coach Jerry Rosburg's philosophy. And, as you would expect punter Sam Koch has been near letter perfect with downing punts inside the 20, and more often then not the 10 yard line. He's a weapon all by himself.
This final pre-season game against the Falcons won't be a showcase for the starters as any coach wouldn't risk injury just as the season is about to begin, but it will be a "do or die" situation for many of the younger players. It should also settle the question of which kicker is going to make the team. It seems, and John Harbaugh has said that at this point Steve Hauschka has the lead, so unless he misses the majority of his attempts against the Falcons he should win out over Graham Gano. And, there is always the possibility that we may see the return of Matt Stover if the coaching staff isn't totally confident with Hauschka. Even though no teams have invited Stover to try out you can bet that if any starting kicker goes down during the season Stover's phone will be ringing off the hook. Hey, I would have no problem with the team once again using Hauschka for kick offs and Stover for field goals of 45 yards or less. If he's going to kick in the NFL again then why not do it in Baltimore?