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Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

FootballBaltimore RavensRay LewisKansas City ChiefsJoe FlaccoEd Reed

Andy in Hagerstown: The game against Kansas City was one of the ugliest games I have ever seen. The Ravens were very lucky to get a 'W' that K.C. clearly handed to us. So Mike, what is it with the Ravens and these poor road efforts? We saw it last year against Jacksonville and Seattle and we saw it again Sunday. What do they need to do to clean things up before the game in Houston?

I thought the Ravens came out flat, and sometimes that can be expected after a long layoff. It's not just a matter of learning how to play on the road, but adjusting to styles. Kansas City has talented cornerbacks and the Chiefs pressed up on the Ravens receivers, and that gives the Ravens problems. The Ravens have to use more motion, run more rubs, crossing patterns and just make more plays in one-on-one situations.

Defensively, again, it's not about being home or away, but just executing and winning some one-on-one matchups. The Ravens made adjustments in the second half, but it shouldn't have taken that long. Going into the game, they had to know Kansas City was going to pound the ball. Against the run, the Ravens have to get better efforts from their defensive linemen because the inside linebackers aren't very physical. The cornerbacks seemed to play better last week, but I'm still not sure about the pass rushing because the Chiefs don't throw a lot.

The Ravens are 4-1, but there is room for a lot of improvement.

John in Westminster: Joe Flacco confidently stated that "he was not getting any cheaper" after his win over the Bengals.  After two games in a row where just one drive would seal the victory ... do you think Joe is getting a little "cheaper?"

John, I never heard Joe say that and it seems out of character for him. We're only five games into the season, but overall Flacco has played pretty well when given the time to throw. I believe the Ravens will pay him what he deserves and am confident he will be in Baltimore for a long time. Flacco made his share of mistakes Sunday, but he had a lot of help in that stinker as far as poor pass blocking and dropped passes.

Steve B: After Sunday’s K.C. game, do you think we will see any changes on the starting offensive line next week against Dallas? I know one thing: if our line blocks against Houston the way it did Sunday against the Chiefs, Flacco will be lucky to survive.

I still say the starting offensive line should be Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, Kelechi Osemele at left guard, Matt Birk at center, Marshal Yanda at right guard and Michael Oher at right tackle. The Ravens, though, believe otherwise. Oher just doesn't have the physical tools (long arms, long torso) to be a quality left tackle and Osemele lacks the proper foot speed to go one on one with speed rushers.

It's a young group and hopefully they will get better. Not for my sake, but Flacco's health.

Errol Phillips: Is there any way to beef up the pass rush for the remainder of the season? What we’ve got now just isn’t working. Could it be the defensive coordinator as well as the personnel?

I think Dean Pees is doing the best he can with what he has to work with on that side of the ball. The Ravens have blitzed a lot but eventually you have to win one-on-one matchups. Except for tackle Haloti Ngata, there hasn't been one lineman to provide steady pressure. Most of the pressure has come from linebackers like Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger or Dannell Ellerbe, or off the edge with a corner or safety.

Young guys like Arthur Jones, Terrence Cody and Pernell McPhee need to get better.

Dean: I have been critical of Ed Reed for most of this season. Sunday’s performance was typical. No tackles, no pass disruptions, no blitz attempts, no interceptions. He "trails" plays, which translate into running away from contact. He even misplayed the fumble recovery. Bernard Pollard tried to keep him in the end zone for a safety, which would have put the ball safely on the 20. Instead he runs it out and was lucky to get it out to the 12. It's always about Ed. Check his stats for the year and tell me I'm wrong.

 

Come on Dean, you are trying to tell me that Reed isn't a lean, mean tackling machine. Come on, man.

It is what it is, and it has been that way for four to five years. I will say this, that Reed has been more of a team player this year than in previous seasons. He has practiced well and works well with the younger players. He speaks to the media and compared to previous seasons, he has played better.

But it is all about his contract, which is up after this season. Reed has been on good behavior. Attitude, though, doesn't translate into more tackles in this case. Your analysis is pretty spot on.

Carolyn: Would you agree that our corners play opposing receivers too far off the line? Secondly, can you defend Ed Reed's lack of engaging receivers on deep patterns and over the middle 20 yarders? It seems like he is always standing around at the end of every play and rarely in them.

With the exception of Lardarius Webb, I just think the Ravens' cornerbacks aren't very physical. They don't get their hands on receivers and hold them up at the line of scrimmage.  They just turn and run with them and then lose track of the ball. The Chiefs didn't throw a lot, but I thought both Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith were solid. Against K.C., you could play soft because the Chiefs weren't going to beat you down the field.

As for Ed Reed, Ed is Ed. He makes big plays in big games and that's basically why general manager Ozzie Newsome keeps him around. When he is on his game, Reed plays the best center field of any safety in the league, but he isn't going to dazzle you by blowing up a lot of receivers or running backs.

David A. Randall: The Ravens are facing a very difficult dilemma -- Ray Lewis. It is apparent that the weight-loss strategy is not working. Who will be the one to tell Ray that he’s done? John, Ozzie, Ray himself, or another teammate?

Lewis will probably play this season and next unless the Ravens win a Super Bowl this year. As long as the Ravens continue to win, they will allow him to play until his contract expires. Because of his passion for the game and him being the face of the organization for so long, he is untouchable. No one really wants to fight that fight over at The Castle and tell him to move on or retire.

It's a story we see a lot in sports where a player hangs on too long. It's kind of sad, but we all want a happy ending. I think the Ravens would like to get to the postseason and then hopefully veterans like Reed and Lewis can make enough plays to get them into the Super Bowl.

But the final call on when he decides to leave will be Lewis' decision. I have said and written that this will never fully be John Harbaugh's team until Ray Lewis leaves. I still believe that, and it is clearly evident.

Coach: Ravens receivers seem to be struggling against press coverage. What can be done on their part and on Cam Cameron’s end?

Run more rubs, crossing patterns and use more motion, especially with Torrey Smith. Of course, to run crossing patterns, requires better pass protection for the offensive line. When teams press up, receivers have to win one-on-one matchups.

Marc Kelly: Mr. Preston, if you know so much about NFL football, why are you not a coach?

Hey Markie, do us adults a favor. Send me your address, and I'll send you a coloring book and a box of crayons during the Q&A.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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FootballBaltimore RavensRay LewisKansas City ChiefsJoe FlaccoEd Reed
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