Creature Lives: A Ravens-Jets Week 4 Review
I’ve always taken offense when national commentators continue to refer to the Baltimore Ravens as an all-defense/no-offense squad. As if it’s still 2000.
Sunday night, the Ravens were pretty much an all-defense/no-offense team and still beat the New York Jets by 17 points.
The defense absolutely destroyed the Jets, in much the same fashion as they had destroyed the Steelers and the Rams this year. Simply put, it was pressure, pressure, pressure. Thankfully, the days of the three-man rush followed Greg Mattison to Michigan.
The defense needed to be dominant too, because the offense pretty much spent half the game stuck in reverse. Joe Flacco couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat for the better part of three quarters, finishing a ghastly 10 for 31 passing, including a pick-six by the Jets’ David Harris.
Heading into the bye, it’s hard to complain about where the Ravens are at: leading the division at 3-1 and hopefully getting cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr, wide receiver Lee Evans and left guard Ben Grubbs back in the lineup when Houston comes to town in Week 6. The Texans might be coming without all-everything wideout Andre Johnson, who murdered the Ravens last year.
It’s also certainly nice to get a commanding win over Rex Ryan, who miraculously managed to go the whole week without bringing up how bitter he was at not getting the Ravens job three years ago.
--- The Ravens certainly showed Rex what he could do with his “ground and pound” game plan, holding the Jets to 38 yards rushing.
---Of course, part of that had to do with the main storyline of this game: the horrendous play of the Jets offensive line. They were absolutely brutal and they almost got GQ cover boy Mark Sanchez killed. Sanchize was saying “no mas” by the fourth quarter he took so many shots.
---Sanchez and Flacco were beyond brutal in this game. Part of that was because the defenses are really good. Sanchez’s troubles were more a function of having zero time to throw, he was getting hit hard on three-step drops, much less trying to drop seven steps and chuck it deep.
Flacco’s problems were more accuracy-related, and his decision making on David Harris’ pick-six was very odd. Thankfully for Joe, he had the defense and Ray Rice to bail him out. It was strange to see because Flacco was pretty accurate early on but for some reason went ice cold in the second and third quarter.
--- Even stranger was the Ravens play-calling by Cam Cameron. Up 27-7, with the Jets offense going nowhere fast, Cameron called plays like he was the one down by 20, dropping back to pass on almost every play.
I know John Harbaugh’s thing this year is not to sit on leads and go into a shell. But the coordinator has to have some feel for the game too. It was obvious to everyone in the stadium that with their offensive line problems, the Jets were having trouble gaining six inches.
The only way they were getting back into the game was by giving them a stupid turnover, which is exactly what the Ravens were doing by having Flacco pass so much instead of breaking New York’s spirit with Rice and Ricky Williams on the ground. Cameron finally figured this out midway through the third quarter but by then, the Jets had gotten into a ball game they had no business being in.
It always drives me nuts when coordinators outsmart themselves, or try to be too cute instead of reading the flow of the game and adjusting accordingly. Chuck Pagano has been successful on the other side of the ball so far, largely because he does two things: he adjusts and when he hits on something, he does it until the other team stops it.
For instance, Pagano knew the Jets were starting a rookie free agent at center in place of the all-pro Nick Mangold. So what did Pagano do? He lined up mammoth Haloti Ngata and equally mammoth Terrence Cody right over this rookie’s face. He blitzed multiple guys in the center’s gap. And he dialed it up until the Jets figured out how to stop it. When the Jets did stop it, he brought blitzes from the outside. Pagano adjusted and kept beating the Jets like a drum for four quarters.
Contrast that with Cameron, who got so pass-happy it allowed the Jets to get some confidence and make it a ballgame.
--- Ngata has been worth every penny of his massive contract extension so far. Besides maybe Darrelle Revis, is there a better defensive player in the league right now than Manumanu the Slender?
In person, Ngata is maybe the most soft-spoken guys you'll ever meet. Another Clark Kent. When I covered the team in 07 and 08, what always got me was that despite being 6'4 340 lbs, Ngata isn't a fat guy. He's a real athlete who just happens to be very big.
Besides being the best defensive tackle in the league – and Haloti has clearly established that he is now the alpha dog at the position – Ngata might keep Ray Lewis playing for another four years.