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Thread: Week 1: Keys to the Game, Ravens

  1. #1

    Week 1: Keys to the Game, Ravens

    Ravens players of note on offense

    Joe Flacco, QB

    The quarterback is an easy way to go for a player to watch on any team, but in this case the 32-year-old signal caller is especially important to keep an eye on because he just started practicing in the week leading up to this game. Heading into his 10th season under center in Baltimore, Flacco took snaps and threw for the first time since June after injuring his back. One would think a veteran of his status wouldn’t need a ton of practice time to get sharp, but the Ravens haven’t exactly been a healthy unit as a team so having him just get back on the field bears watching.

    Ronnie Stanley, LT
    The No. 6 overall pick last year played in 12 games for the Ravens, but has his preseason and training shortened due to injury as well. He returned to practice shortly before Flacco did after missing two weeks of work. Stanley would have been a player in the spotlight for the opener anyway as the Bengals look to be adding younger, more dynamic edge rushers to his side in rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis.

    Danny Woodhead, RB
    The 32-year-old running back was one of the Ravens’ key additions in the offseason to bolster the offense and, lo and behold, he was yet another of the walking wounded in training camp. The nine-year veteran is expected to add some flexibility out of the backfield after missing all but two games a year ago in San Diego due to injury. In 2015, his last full season, he caught 80 passes and ran for another 336 yards.

    Ravens of note on defense

    Terrell Suggs, LB
    Yup, he’s still there. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft turns 35 in October but he’s back for his 15th season with the Ravens. He played in 15 games a year ago after it looked like his career might be over due to injury in 2014, and he still registered eight sacks. One never knows when Father Time will punch the clock on a player until he does, so we’ll see if Suggs still has enough left pretty quickly.

    Tony Jefferson, S
    Jefferson was one of the Ravens’ big moves on defense, as he signed a 4-year, $36 million deal to leave Arizona. Jefferson, 25, brings some much-needed youth to Baltimore and some big play ability as he forced six fumbles and intercepted two passes in his four years in Arizona. He also has a nose for the QB, with five career sacks coming on blitzes. As the Bengals offense tries to get going early, the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Jefferson might find himself across from Tyler Eifert in key situations.

    Jimmy Smith, CB
    When it’s a divisional game, there are always familiar faces and matchups, and Smith brings that for Bengals wideout A.J. Green. Smith was the No. 27 overall pick in the 2011 draft and the two have squared up against one another for six years. This will mark the start of their seventh. Smith didn’t have an interception last year for just the second time in his career, but has eight total and remains someone Bengals QB Andy Dalton has to mind.

    Quick facts

    TV: 1 p.m.: CBS broadcast with Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Adam Archuleta (analyst) and Emily Collins (sideline).
    Radio: WCKY-AM (1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7).
    Line: Bengals +3
    Last season: The Bengals finished 6-9-1 and the Ravens finished 8-8.

    Key numbers

    The all-time series between the rivals stands at 21-21.


    The home team usually gets it done, too, as each enjoys this mark in their respective stadiums.

    8, 24

    Season-ending ranks in scoring defense and offense for the 2016 Bengals.

    9, 21

    Season-ending ranks in scoring defense and offense for the 2016 Ravens.


    • Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was Ravens defensive coordinator from 1996-2001 and earned a Super Bowl ring with the 2000 World Champions.
    • Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is from Perrysburg, Ohio, played DB at Miami University and coached at Morehead State (1988) and the University of Cincinnati (’89-96).
    • Ravens DE Chris Wormley is from Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer High School).
    • Ravens ILB Bam Bradley is from Trotwood, Ohio (Trotwood-Madison High School).
    • Ravens WR Chris Moore played at the University of Cincinnati.
    • Ravens OLB Za’Darius Smith and WR Chris Matthews both played at the University of Kentucky.
    • Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons entered NFL coaching with the Ravens in 1998 ... Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney was on the Ravens staff from 1996-98.
    • Ravens special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1992-95.
    • Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton was assistant S/C coach for the Ravens from 1999-2001.
    • Bengals assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Friday was on the Ravens staff from 1999-2007.
    • Ravens assistant special teams coach Chris Hewitt played at the University of Cincinnati from 1993-96.
    • Ravens inside linebackers coach Don Martindale is from Dayton, Ohio, played at Defiance College from 1981-84, and coached at Defiance (’86- 87), University of Cincinnati (’96-98) and Western Kentucky University (2001-03).
    • Ravens offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach Craig Ver Steeg coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1990-93.

  2. #2
    Matchup of the Game: special unveiling

    Posted 1 hour ago

    Cody Core is one of those fast, young (second year) special teamers.

    It’s more symbolic than anything. Evans, the ultra-talented sixth-round nugget, represents the speed and youth the Bengals unveil in Sunday’s opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) with potentially about nine players taking their first NFL snap on special teams at Paul Brown Stadium. Koch is the savvy 12-year innovator that mirrors the success Baltimore has had on special teams in the last decade as the Ravens also go through some growing pains to surround their Pro Bowl kickers.All 13 players that have yet to take an NFL snap for the Baby Bengals II aren’t going to dress Sunday. But whatever the number that do, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons is looking at one of the more daunting of his 15 openers. With guys like Evans, fellow rookie linebackers Carl Lawson and Hardy Nickerson, rookie defensive end Jordan Willis, and red-shirt rookie cornerback William Jackson, that is going to be a hold-on-to-your –hat-welcome-to-the-NFL-moment opening kickoff. When kicker Randy Bullock is counting them up, more than half the guys running down with him could be making their first NFL contact.

    “So we are going to be young. But we are going to be faster. We are going to be athletic. We have to get them molded quick, in a hurry,” Simmons says. “I don’t know that you feel comfortable until they get their feet wet. You just try to get them to prepare and prepare them as best we can knowing there are going to be things that come up we haven’t gone through, we haven't got covered completely.”

    This is a heck of a coaching matchup between Simmons and Ravens special teams maven Jerry Rosburg. When it comes to measuring NFL special teams, the standard has been “The Goose Index,” as compiled by Dallas powerhouse scribe Rick Gosselin. The Ravens have been in the top five each of the last five seasons, a stretch the Bengals have finished in the top ten three times.

    The 6-3, 245-pound Evans didn’t get the pub fellow draft picks Lawson, Willis, and his college teammate Joe Mixon got during training camp until his hellacious pre-season finale last week in Indianapolis. And it looks like Evans is ticketed to have just as much of an impact this season. Which is to say huge.

    Evans didn’t get invited to the NFL scouting combine and ran the famous 4.35-second 40-yard dash that would have led all the backers in Indianapolis. But the Bengals knew all about Evans long before then through area scout Bill Tobin’s reports. He saw what Mixon did.
    “He’s got good instincts,” Mixon says. “He can sniff out the ball … Yeah, he’s fast. He’s the best cover linebacker in the country.”

    Linebackers coach Jim Haslett has been either playing or coaching linebackers in the league since the Carter Administration. He knows a pro linebacker when he sees one and he loves Evans.

    Jordan Evans has been one of the talks of camp in becoming a core special teamer.

    “He’s smart,” Haslett says. “He’s got great speed, good length, good range. And he’s tough. The question about him coming out was could he play the run and it had nothing to do with him, it was just the league he played in because they pass the ball all the time and he’s come in here and done that. I think Darrin likes what he sees. I think he’ll help in that area and also on defense.”

    With defensive coordinator Paul Guenther staring at a roster of just 23 players and veteran WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Adam Jones sitting this one out, he’s vowing to play everyone. On paper that means Evans is going to get some significant scrimmage snaps with veteran Vincent Rey in Burfict’s spot and William Jackson is going to get plenty of time with veteran Darqueze Dennard filling in for Jones.

    But where Evans is really going to make his impact is on special teams, which is undergoing as massive of an overhaul as the offense did in 2011 when rookies A.J. Green and Andy Daltonbecame bell-cows right away. Pro Bowler Cedric Peerman is gone for the year with injury and three of last season’s top four special teams tacklers are no longer here. Plus, Rey, along with Peerman the long-time co-captain of special teams, is going to have his role in the kicking game reduced while he helps fill in during Burfict’s suspension.

    “We'll see how it all shakes out. Some of it's going to be playing it by ear a little bit. But yeah, some of this will be by committee,” Simmons says.
    So like the Green-Dalton Era took the torch from Chad-Carson, what we’re looking at here on special teams is the Rey-Peerman Era snapping it to the Fejedelem-Evans Regime. Both are core guys for Simmons, but underlying Sunday’s challenge is that Fejedelem’s role on teams is going to be impinged by his expected start at safety for the injured Shawn Williams.

    “He has been and he will be,” says Simmons of Evans’ core role. “He's shown he's everything (we thought) when we took him, and more probably. He's very smart, very intelligent, understands football and he's a quick study. If he makes a mistake, it doesn't happen a second time. He learns from it. I think he'll be up to speed here rapidly.”

    But while Baltimore special teams maven Jerry Rosburg has three Pro Bowlers in his long snapper, punter, and the ridiculous Justin Tucker at kicker, he’s also re-tooling. He also doesn’t have his best teams player with the retirement of Zach Orr. His longest-tenured guy, linebacker Albert McClellan, is gone with an ACL injury. Kamar Aiken is in Indy, Kyle Juszczyk is in San Francisco and Matt Elam is out of the league,

    Darrin Simmons is re-building again.

    So, like Simmons, Rosburg is looking for core guys and he’s staring at his share of rookies Sunday, like cornerback Marlon Humphrey, linebackers Bam Bradley, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, and safety Chuck Clark.

    This is how Simmons is looking at it:

    “There will be new guys in there but like I told them in the meeting the other day. Ced Peerman was that guy at one time, too. A young guy. Vinny was a young guy, too. We had a lot of them that way. With youth comes opportunity. It’s an opportunity for those guys to establish themselves and be counted on that way.”

    It all makes defending AFC kick return champion Alex Erickson a wheezing geezer in his second season.

    “I wouldn’t exactly say that,” says Erickson, who is also going to be charged with catching Koch’s array of knucklers and darts.

    He’s got a point. The cupboard isn’t exactly empty. Dennard, defensive back Josh Shaw, and wide receiver Cody Core have experience at gunner, safety Derron Smith has 28 games in the middle of it, and tight end Tyler Kroft had 10 teams tackles as a rookie.

    “Missing a guy like Ced is tough,” Erickson says. “We have to play within ourselves. You can’t be Ced Peerman. You just have to be yourself. Trust everyone around you and it makes everything easier … Watching film and preparation can close the gap (of inexperience).

    “It’s a great opportunity for guys to come in and make their mark,” Erickson says. “Jordan has all the tools. He prepares the right way. The sky’s the limit for him.”

    The Green-Dalton Era got it done in their first year. Evans-Fejedelem?

    “You never want the mistakes, but I am realistic, too,” Simmons says. “There will be some things that come up from time to time. More of this stuff to get experience the better we will be. Whether in practice or games it’s hard to replicate all those things in practice but we have shifted gears from preseason mode to more game plan oriented, more personnel-oriented. It’s important they start to learn and understand other players as well as they do other schemes.”

  3. #3
    What's your keys to the game?

  4. #4
    A lot of these are key in any game, but here goes...

    - Limit turnovers
    - Establish the run early (going to be hard with an inexperienced OL vs. a tough front 7). Brandon Williams, in particular, is hard to move.
    - Take some deep shots (other than Jimmy Smith, their secondary doesn't run very well) - Balt has Suggs, Judon and some others so OTs will have to hold them off.
    - I like Tony Jefferson a lot, but his range isn't the best so I think Eifert presents a mismatch there
    - Get Mixon into open space on short passes, and let him work vs. LBs

    - Force Baltimore offense into longer down and distance so Flacco has to make plays. Given the lack of practice time for Flacco and some of the receivers, I'd expect them to show some rust re: timing
    - Pass rush (Other than Yanda, who is great, the Balt OL doesn't impress me much)

    - Make your kicks (looking at you, Bullock)
    - No turnovers
    - Limit return yardage - given the youth with the ST crew, that's going to be a key. I expect a low-scoring game so field position will be important

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Protect Andy. I think we have too many weapons to account for on offense as long as Andy gets the chance to find them.

  6. #6

  7. #7
    I still think Mixon is gonna be really good...but watching hunt and how much I wanted him this offseason...could have saved the bad press, used the 2nd rounder on another position, and got a very good RB in hunt in the third.

    I'm good with how things turned out but I think hunt is gonna be a very solid running back for the chiefs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    As good as Hunt looked, I was drooling over some of the holes and time that line was giving the Chiefs offense. Smith was checking his email and balancing his checkbook back there on some of those plays.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JBandJoeyV View Post
    I still think Mixon is gonna be really good...but watching hunt and how much I wanted him this offseason...could have saved the bad press, used the 2nd rounder on another position, and got a very good RB in hunt in the third.

    I'm good with how things turned out but I think hunt is gonna be a very solid running back for the chiefs.

    Jim OwczarskiVerified account @JimOwczarski 8h8 hours agoMore

    Jim Owczarski Retweeted Joe Browne
    #Bengals had him … well, not sure how high. But they had him. But you know, Mixon. Hunt was a third-rounder.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
    [FONT="]Jim OwczarskiVerified account @JimOwczarski 8h8 hours agoMore


    [FONT="]Jim Owczarski Retweeted Joe Browne[/FONT]
    [FONT="]#Bengals had him … well, not sure how high. But they had him. But you know, Mixon. Hunt was a third-rounder.

    I'm no fan of Mixon but there's no reason he can't do the same things Hunt was doing. In fact, I was struck by how much the Chiefs offense...all 500 yards and 40 points of it....looked like the Bengals.


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