After digesting Monday nights game against the Jets I came away with quite a few observations. First off the Ravens defense looked overpowering for the first ten minutes, then lost its edge. The Ravens offense looked great for the first ten minutes then struggled a bit. What is it? Don't the preseason game keep the players interested enough? While the defense started with an interception by Haloti Ngata returned for a touchdown they seemed to lose focus by their third series allowing Jets running back Leon Washington to run rampant up the middle of the field. They allowed him far too many yards and the reasons for that need to be addressed.
The offense had it's struggles as well with neither Ray Rice or Willis McGahee being able to get yardage running up the middle. A lot of that blame can be put on the offensive line, which just didn't open up any running lanes, and part of it in Rice's case can be attributed to him not being big enough to make his way out of the backfield when going up the middle, even though he has bulked up in the off season. His ability to be a pass catching back is fantastic but he might not be the whole package the Ravens are looking for from their number one back.
If Rice is to be successful this season the O-line has to step up. I understand this is just the second pre season game but their level of execution was far from acceptable. I believe they can do better and will, but until we see it a concern remains.
I thought the stars of the game were Joe Flacco, with his laser perfect throws on most occasions, Haloti Ngata for just being a total beast that the Jets offensive linemen couldn't handle, Jameel McLain for his overall hustle and redemption for allowing a touchdown by scoring one of his own, Derrick Mason for showing he is one of the best receivers to ever play the game, and where would the Ravens be without him?
This team wasn't hitting on all cylinders for this game but managed to squeak out a 24-23 win to spoil Rex Ryan's return to Baltimore. I saw the look on coach John Harbaugs face after he shook hand with Ryan after the game, and it wasn't a look of pleasure. He knows this team still needs some fine tuning and I'm certain he'll be addressing that in the upcoming practices for the Carolina Panthers.
I'm not too alarmed at the moment, but I'm hoping to see a better result this Saturday in Carolina. This team should be able to compete for a Super Bowl barring any significant injuries, and they need to understand the importance of going into the regular season on a high note. I think they'll all get that message this week from Harbaugh, Cam Cameron, Gregg Mattison and line coaches Clarence Brooks and John Matsko.