This was a tough loss to swallow. Baltimore looked in complete control after the first half. So much so that Philly fans were booing their team going into the tunnel. They looked like an entirely different team in the second half, allowing Mike Vick and the rest of the Philly’s offense to run up and down the field. The Eagles totaled nearly 500 yards, and despite 4 turnovers topped the Ravens with a win in the final minutes. I’m not going to recite the box score, because I don’t think that will do any good. Instead I’ll bring up some point of concern, as well as some positives.
First, this offense needs to get the ball to Ray Rice some more. I understand this is turning into a passing league, but a good offense makes adjustments as the game goes on. Joe Flacco was playing incredible in the first half. That 21 yard TD pass to Jacoby Jones was one of the best throws I’ve ever seen from Cool Joe. However, in the second half, he just didn’t have it. Rice was hastily used, despite averaging 6.2 yards on the ground. Rice needs to be used, especially when the Ravens hold a lead. I understand that you can’t simply turn off the burners with a lead, but Rice is an elite RB that is simply not being used enough.
Joe Flacco is impressive still. His second half was certainly lackluster, but I’m not ready to throw him under the bus. The Eagles defense has loads of talent between Trent Cole, Babin, Asomugha, and Cromartie. The first half was great, he just has to put it together in all four quarters. The offensive line needs some work as well. There were plenty of times that Joe was hurried, but he also made a ton of unforced errors. I also do not like the fact that Dennis Pitta was targeted 15 times. There were several occasions that Joe eyed down Pitta and telegraphed his throws to the defense. I like Pitta, but Flacco is making way too obvious that he is going for the TE. Plus with the talent of Smith, Jones, and Boldin on the roster, he needs to be targeting the WR’s much more if he is going to throw as much as he did.
The most concerning part of the defense yesterday was the abysmal coverage they had on Brent Celek. They were able to get to Vick several times, but had trouble bringing him down. I’ll give some credit to Vick here as he is elusive enough to avoid plenty of sacks. They were also to cause four turnovers, but the offense could not take advantage of it. What they could not do is stop the not so athletic Celek. Several times he was simply wide open, exposing holes on some pretty pathetic zone defense. That cannot fly next week against New England. They aren’t likely to have Aaron Hernandez, but Rob Gronkowski could have a field day if they can’t figure our their flaws defending the TE.
On the bright side, Justin Tucker looks like the real deal. He nailed field goals of 48, 51, and 56 yards. The rookie has really ran away with the starting kicking job. Ray Rice looks better than ever, but needs to see the ball more. I expect him to be a bigger part of the offense next week. Lardarius Webb may be the best tackler on this team. He may be undersized, but can bring down seemingly anyone in a one on one situation. When you talk about an all around corner, Webb has to be near the top of the list.
The Ravens weren’t going to go 16-0 this year, so a loss is not devastating. They should learn from this and hopefully will improve on their flaws. I still have a lot of hope for this team going forward, but we learned a lot about this team. They lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and we are still finding out what the new guys can do. As it stands now, Baltimore is still tied for first in the AFC North and that’s fine for me.