Read and react: Tackling four opinions on the Ravens

The Baltimore Sun

This feature appears every week on the Baltimore Sports Blitz. It’s just like “What They’re Saying About the Ravens,” but it includes blogger Matt Vensel saying something about what those people are saying. Got it?

--- Don Banks of Sports Illustrated criticized the play of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis after Sunday’s 9-6 win.

“Remember when Baltimore's defense was one of the best in the business when it came to stopping the run? Those days seem long gone,” Banks wrote. “The Chiefs shredded the Ravens for 214 yards on a whopping 50 carries (4.3 per rush), with Jamaal Charles producing a game-high 140 of those on 30 attempts.  Couldn't have anything to do with that new, lighter and faster Ray Lewis we've heard so much about this year, could it? It was feared that Baltimore's Hall of Fame-bound middle linebacker might suffer some on run defense this year in the attempt to get more athletic in pass coverage, and perhaps those concerns were accurate.”

Matt’s take: Overall, Lewis has had a so-so season after he racked up 15 tackles in the Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, but Sunday was his worst performance of the season. He got pushed around while trying to stop Charles and the Chiefs, and on a few plays he looked lost in open space. I haven’t seen enough to say that Lewis needs to be yanked from the lineup, but this is something to keep an eye on going forward.

--- Clark Judge of CBS Sports thinks the officials gave the Ravens a big break by blowing the whistle early on one play.

“The honeymoon is over with regular refs, and if it didn't end last weekend in Green Bay with Jeff Triplette's crew, it ended in Kansas City with Pete Morelli's outfit,” Judge wrote. “It blew the call on a Joe Flacco fumble that could've decided the game ... and won it for Kansas City ... when it whistled the play dead way too soon. Imagine if that happened with replacement refs. We would be demanding a Congressional inquiry.”

Matt’s take: The Ravens caught a break when the refs ruled that Flacco’s forward progress had been stopped before the ball squirted out of his hands on a late sack. It was a quick whistle -- not that I’m saying it was the wrong call. I remember the Ravens benefitting when the officials didn’t blow the whistle on a similar play in 2010 when they stripped the ball out of a scrum to secure a win over the Buffalo Bills. It’s a judgment call.

--- John Eisenberg of thinks running the no-huddle offense on the road will continue to be an issue for the Ravens.

“The sample size is still a little small, but it looks like the Ravens might be dealing with a real issue in trying to operate their no-huddle offense on the road. It has looked potent and even close to unstoppable at times in the team’s three home games, but replicating that in a hostile environment in front of pumped-up opposing fans has proved difficult in Philadelphia and Kansas City,” he wrote. “Flacco struggled in Philly and his biggest play Sunday was not a pass but a 16-yard scramble for a first down on the game-ending drive. Ray Rice, who had another strong game, admitted afterward that deploying the up-tempo philosophy is ‘hard’ on the road.”

Matt’s take: There are multiple factors, including pass protection and the wide receivers not getting as much separation, at play when it comes to the offense’s two performances on the road, but you have to wonder if the Ravens will eventually scrap the no-huddle on the road, at least early in games. It’s clear they want to be that kind of offense -- and that means doing it most of the time -- but they just don’t have it down yet outside of Baltimore.

--- ESPN’s Jamison Hensley found a silver lining to Sunday’s win.

“The Ravens took a step forward in beating the Chiefs,” he wrote. “No, you didn't read that wrong.  Last season, all four of the Ravens' losses came on the road against teams that had losing records at the time. Baltimore shouldn't apologize for winning by a field goal Sunday because its players know there is a worse alternative.”

Matt’s take: Some of the Ravens players have made this claim, too, but I think a bigger factor was the ball bouncing their way all afternoon. I don’t remember their opponents last season trying to give the ball away like the Chiefs were on Sunday, but if this gives the players a boost of confidence, that can’t be a bad thing. Still, I’m going to wait and see how they respond in another sloppy road game before drawing conclusions.

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