Today we are fortunate enough to have with us Kyle Barber, the Editor In Chief at our SBN Ravens site, Baltimore Beatdown. Kyle has been kind enough to lend us his insight into his favorite team, the Ravens. Here are his answers to my questions.
Smackdad: Joe Flacco's shoulder is hurting. Is he likely to play, and if he does will his shoulder be an issue? If Flacco doesn't play can Ryan Mallett succeed at quarterback?
Kyle: ESPN's Jamison Hensley and others are reporting Joe Flacco will be playing on Sunday. I expect to see Super Joe on the gridiron. The injured shoulder is the throwing shoulder and I expect to see some inaccurate throws. Hopefully Joe can overcome the pain and soreness. Still answering your question on Mallett, yes he can succeed. A talented backup quarterback, Ryan Mallett has the veteran knowledge and tools surrounding him to succeed.
Smackdad: What are the Ravens' greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses on defense? How might the Jets successfully attack the Ravens defense, and what should the Jets offense avoid?
Kyle: Defensively, the Ravens are prone to big plays. The deep tosses to CB2 have been embarrassingly efficient. Doesn't help the Ravens starting FS is Lardarius Webb, a CB turned Safety this offseason. Another weakness will be the run stopping ability. Starting linebacker C.J. Mosley is out with a hamstring issue, leaving the Ravens weak. Passrushing has been most problematic. Elvis Dumervil is still not back from foot surgery in the offseason, and now Terrell Suggs has a torn biceps injury. The depth rushers aren't producing either, leaving quarterbacks clean and able to make the downfield throws.
While I did give a lot of bad, the Ravens secondary as a whole is ranked 2nd according to PFF. Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle have absolutely dominated at their respective positions. Eric Weddle's presence provides a boost this defense needed. The constant big hits on crossing routes have resulted in multiple turnovers.
Smackdad: What are the Ravens' greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses on offense? How might the Jets defense successfully attack the Ravens offense, and what are the biggest problems the Ravens offense presents the Jets defense?
Kyle: The Ravens are such a mixed bag. With Marc Trestman this team abandoned the run. With Marty Mornhinweg at offensive coordinator last week we watched Flacco hurl some deep balls and also keep Terrance West getting carries. The strengths include a great QB, a very talented running back people are still sleeping on, a good tight end unit and receivers with big play ability. Mike Wallace has burned defenses just as he did with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Weaknesses inlude the injury bug. Marshal Yanda will not be playing, leaving an All-Pro void at right guard. Ronnie Stanley, the sixth overall pick, won't be 100% either. The young left tackle will experience some difficulties against this Jets defensive line.
Smackdad: The Jets biggest defensive problem has come in the back seven defending the pass. Which Ravens receivers are likely to do the most damage against the Jets, and how might the Jets effectively neutralize them?
Kyle: Mike Wallace. He's not a one-trick pony. He can hit the nine route as we all know, but his route-running improvements are fine-tuned. He will cross the middle, quick curl and catch the screen passes. Breshad Perriman is a Mike Wallace lite. He's still getting up to NFL speed, but he has made one big catch every game it seems. Steve Smith Sr. is another, but his game status is doubtful.
Smackdad: Can you tell me two players, one on offense and one on defense, whom a casual fan might not be too familiar with, but Ravens fans know is or will soon be special? What about them makes them so good?
Kyle: Zachary Orr for defense. He's an undrafted free agent linebacker that leads the team in turnovers. He's made interceptions and scooped up a few forced fumbles. Always near the football and producing. Just another UDFA linebacker with pro-bowl expectations for the Ravens, just as Bart Scott, Jameel McClain and Dannelle Ellerbe before him.
Terrance West is what the Ravens so desperately needed in the running back position and he's given everything. He's producing every game where the offensive line is missing three of five starters, including 4x All-Pro Marshal Yanda and two tackles. Expect his complete versatility of power, agility and speed to hurt the Jets on the ground.