Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.
October 30, 2011
To be perfectly honest, Flacco actually didn't play all that poorly in the first half. He missed some open throws, sure, but a few of his passes should have been caught, especially the one turned into an interception when it went through Torrey Smith's hands.
The main problem was the Ravens couldn't block anyone up front. If you watch the replay of the play where Flacco was sacked and fumbled, you'll see that both Bryant McKinnie and Andre Gurode (pictured right with Ray Rice) got beaten badly, and the Cardinals defensive line sandwiched Flacco like he was the meat between two pieces of bread.
Gurode, in fairness, is doing his best to help the team at a position he just isn't athletic enough to play anymore. Dallas didn't just get rid of him because he was making too much money. He's not the athlete he used to be, and when you combine that with the fact that he's doing stuff he's totally unfamiliar with -- like putting a different hand down when he gets in a stance -- it's no wonder he's struggling. If Ben Grubbs were healthy, Gurode would mostly be just an insurance policy in case of an injury to Matt Birk. But with Grubbs' toe injury showing no signs of healing anytime soon, he's the Ravens best option.
McKinnie, I can't really figure out. Sometimes he looks really good, and other times, he struggles with speed rushers. I thought his conditioning would be his biggest weakness this year, but really it's his lateral quickness. (They could still be related.) The fact that neither LaMarr Woodley nor James Harrison will likely be 100 percent next week (if they play at all) is a fortunate break for Baltimore.