I doubt I’ll be in the business of previewing games but in this case, it seems like a lot of points are being missed. Since it’s not fun or fair to point these out after the game here are the factors the will lead to an easy Ravens -7 cover. (And super easy current Ravens -6.5.)
1. Chris Canty versus ONeill Cousins.
It’s amazing what you can do when you can sign 30 year olds, when you don’t have to save salary for some unknown reason and when you don’t paint yourself into a corner with rigid get younger edicts. The Ravens spent $2.8M in guaranteed money for a guy good enough to start 16 games for a SB winner two years ago. He’s 30. He’ll be occupying ONiel Cousins as a 34 DE. Canty got a +2.3 rating from PFF last week; Cousins . And this likely leaves Mitchell Schwartz without help against Terrell Suggs. Does any of this sound familiar? (PS, Oniel Cousins is 29. IRONY!)
Sidebar notes re: Ravens’ defense
1a. Ravens defense depleted myth.
Ravens lost a lot of players on defense. Yes I know this, see graphic at right. It was created for my written-not-published “Ozzie Newsome, not a genius” piece. Why didn’t I publish it? Why didn’t I share the time and toil that included making funny Wile E. Coyote graphics? It’s that part with the green boxes where Ozzie pulled two studs and a decent piece part out of his ass to patch holes in his defense.
Do recall that the Ravens were in cap hell after their Super Bowl win. Hard to kill them for that because, well, Super Bowl win. This is why Boldin is gone. Repeat: the salary cap hell precipitated by winning the Super Bowl and thus needing to overpay to sign now Super Bowl Winning Joe Flacco created a problem. In March, I thought it would be hell for them now I don’t think so.
1b. Kruger was the most expendable of all the Ravens’ FA losses.
We all know we were bidding against ourselves for Kruger right? I know Banner was at risk of breaking his arm patting himself on the back for this signing, but Kruger –he of six starts in his career– was backed up by the Ravens’ top pick in 2012, Courtney Upshaw. He was never part of the plan for the Ravens.
2. Ravens have a fullback.
Much has been made of the Browns’ front seven and yes it’s pretty to look at. But the Ravens have multiyear all-pro Vonta Leach back and he’s playing the dinosaur fullback position.
Lol, don’t the Ravens know that position is obsolete? Lol, Maroons!
Well I guess we’ll see if Ozzie and Jim Harbaugh know what they’re doing by keeping that position funded. You know because it’s like they didn’t just win a Super Bowl. But in considering fullbacks, they don’t win three all-pros for ‘rush yards gained.’ Fullbacks win all-pros for blocking, either lead blocking for the feature back or picking up blitzes and protecting their QB. Oh wait a sec,,, doesn’t the Browns’ DC have a thing about attacking, blitzing aggressive, something something? Yes, I’m sure a read a report about the Browns front seven and blitzing. But haven’t read too much about how having the best blocking fullback in the NFL might blunt that attack. A rare miss by Cleveland sports media.
3. Josh Gordon is Weeden’s Welker.
To the extent Weeden trusts any receiver or has a go-to option he relies on, it’s Josh Gordon. Look for the Browns’ offense to magically look better next week. Discount commentary about the Browns finding a rhythm or something. Josh Gordon makes a huge difference in the Browns offense. Huge. It won’t be apparent until week four though.
4. Michael Oher injured.
Welp, first off, looks like Oher will be starting so you can scratch. But even if he sat, the Ravens are set. This is because the Ravens used their late fifth round pick this year to draft Wisconsin stud o-lineman and Kanick sleeper Ricky Wagner. The same guy I loved so much that photographed my TV and I put a ‘DO WANT’ bulletin out for him after the 2011 Rose Bowl vs. TCU. While Banner may scoff at such shenanigans as using late fifth round picks on players, let alone Wisconsin o-linemen, so GMs walk their own path, courageously.
5. Home openers are big deals.
Well for every where else but Cleveland. I’m having a rough go with Cheddar and I can think of several cases where I failed to consider how fired up a team gets with their home opener. Washington over Boise; Army played way over their heads versus Stanford; even freaking Idaho got 35 point in their Kibbie Dome kickoff… the Vandals haven’t scored more than 35 points (non OT game) since 2009. Since 2000, the Ravens are 11-2 in their home openers. They’re raising their SB Champs banner. They get to do in front of the Browns; they get to jam it up all our Modell-hating you-know-whats.
I could go on but it’s 11:30 so that’ll do. You know very well I’m at the Riverside Lounge in Amesbury MA if anyone wants to take issue or join me for a hearty Bud Light.