Originally Published: September 2, 2010
Kirby Lee/US Presswire JOHN CLAYTON QB RANKING (12): In two seasons, Joe Flacco has passed for 6,584 yards and has guided Baltimore to three road playoff victories.

Expert Picks (Consensus: 2nd)

Intelligence Report

Five things you need to know about the Ravens:

1. The offense will be fine: Fans in Baltimore are getting nervous because the Ravens' offense didn't light it up throughout the preseason. Baltimore added players at receiver (Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh) and tight end (Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta) to help with the passing game. So the Ravens have everything in place to be one of the top offenses in the AFC, but everything won't come together overnight. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is still working to establish roles for his skill players, and that will continue into the regular season. Quarterback Joe Flacco also hinted that Baltimore didn't show all of its packages in preseason games, which is a smart move.

2. Flacco is even better: Flacco always has had the natural ability, but he is playing smarter and more efficiently in his third season. The quarterback looks more poised and ready to take over a leadership role with the Ravens. Flacco has a veteran presence about him, knowing this is now his offense. With so many weapons around him, it will be Flacco's job to make sure everything is running efficiently. He also has a tremendous supporting staff this season with new quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn and veteran backup Marc Bulger. Both have shown Flacco new tricks that he can apply to his own game.

3. Pass defense still an issue: The Ravens didn't do much in the preseason to ease concerns about their pass defense. Their secondary and linebackers struggled at times covering receivers and tight ends, which also was a concern last season. Starting cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb both are coming back from knee injuries and will be counted on to help. Baltimore also acquired cornerback Josh Wilson in a trade with Seattle this week to play in nickel packages. Star safety Ed Reed is progressing well from hip surgery and will provide a big boost when he returns. An improved pass rush also is key for Baltimore. The Ravens were average getting to the quarterback last season but are making a concerted effort to improve.

4. Terrell Suggs is back: Speaking of pass rush, Suggs is in great shape and looks motivated to bounce back from a poor 2009. Last season, the defensive end/linebacker hybrid registered a career-low 4.5 sacks. Suggs allowed his weight to balloon and lost his explosiveness getting to the quarterback. This preseason, he's played with good quickness, leverage and power, making him hard to block one-on-one. Suggs has been one of the most consistent pass-rushers in the NFL for a long time. Therefore, there's no reason to believe he will not be able to get back to his old form this season.

5. Right tackle could be a concern: Baltimore's offensive line is solid. But one area of concern is at right tackle. Starter Jared Gaither missed most of training camp with a back injury. Gaither also arrived in camp too light for the position, and there is no timetable for his return. Backup Oniel Cousins (head) has been in and out of the lineup. Tony Moll and starting guard Marshal Yanda are options. But Moll is a third-stringer at the position, and Baltimore would rather keep Yanda at guard. Keep an eye on this position early in the season, especially if Gaither remains on the sidelines.

-- James Walker, ESPN.com

Scouts Inc.'s Fabulous Five


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?