Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions about the Ravens' 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
John in Westminster: NFL Officials 24, Ravens 23. What is your call, Mike?
Mike Preston: John, my call is very simple. The officials stink, and it will be that way until the regular guys come back. With that said, I think the Ravens should stop whining and complaining, and just play. The referees are trying hard, but they are replacement officials. If I was John Harbaugh, I’d tell my players to pipe down, play and not let the officials get so deep into their minds that it affects their play on the field.
The bottom line, if I can borrow that from Ray Lewis, is that the Ravens need to make enough plays so that it takes the game out of the hands of the officials. It’s not like these guys are just cheating the Ravens. They spread the wealth as far as ruining every NFL game. Some people say the refs are inconsistent. I disagree. They are consistently bad.
Nick: Ray Rice ran all over the Eagles, and Joe Flacco had accuracy troubles in the second half at times. Why not give Rice the ball more? I would have thought they learned their lesson last year.
Mike Preston: I thought that myself, but they apparently think Joe Flacco is in the same class with Tom Brady.
Flacco is a good quarterback, certainly good enough to win a Super Bowl, but there are times when you have to take the ball out of his hands. Throughout the preseason and even the first half Sunday, Flacco has played well.
I’m not going to say he is still inconsistent like previous years. I think he just had a bad half. It happens. It’s up to assistant coaches -- CAM CAMERON -- to pull the plug on Flacco every once and a while.
There are some quarterbacks you live and die with even on bad days, like Peyton Manning, Brady, Drew Brees and Eli Manning. I’m willing to live with Flacco, but I’m not going to let him kill me.
JJ in Colonial Beach, Va.: Where was the hurry-up offense for the Ravens? Why did they seemingly go away from it when it appeared to work so well in Week One?
Mike Preston: We never seemed to get a straight answer on that from Harbaugh. He alluded to Lincoln Financial Field being a loud stadium, so I assume that was the reason. When you watched that game Sunday, you left with a lot of questions because the Ravens got out of sync. But let’s not forget the defense. That group has given up more than 400 yards in each of the first two games.
I knew the Ravens would struggle this season, especially early, but that group has some serious problems.
Hopefully, no one will blame the performances on the officials. They are the scapegoats for the losers every week.
Alan: After the refs properly overturned the call that Michael Vick had fumbled, why wasn't intentional grounding called? It appeared that only offensive linemen were near the ball and it landed behind line of scrimmage. Tougher to score if the ball had been moved back.
Mike Preston: When you’re that close to the end zone, there is always a receiver in the area. Plus, how can you prove it was grounding? The ball did slip out of Vick’s hand before he pushed it forward. Regardless of what anyone says (see Ray Lewis), the officials got the call right.
They were two of 100 for the day, but they got that one right after they initially screwed it up.
Jami: The pass to Jacoby Jones late in the game in the end zone appeared as a TD on every replay or it was at least a pass interference on the defender. The defender never had his back turned to the ball and was tangling with Jones all the way. How is this not called correctly? I felt that was the end of the game for the Ravens. CBS actually acted like it was never an issue and the right call was made. The only thing I saw on the play that could have been overturned is that Jones' foot looked close to the sideline. I feel the Ravens beat themselves in this one, even if the stats appear a little lopsided.
Mike Preston: Jami, it was pass interference on Jones. After the game, the Ravens complained about the Eagles mugging their receivers down the field. Well, why didn’t the Ravens do the same thing to the Eagles? I’ve seen Michelle Obama give harder fist bumps to the president than the Ravens cornerbacks when it comes to being physical with receivers (apologies to Lardarius Webb).
You can push off when the two players are close to each other, but you can’t get caught with your arms extended. Jones had his arm out and that’s why he drew the flag.
Bob K.: Could you please tell me why John Harbaugh did not use his two timeouts at the end of the game? Had he used them quickly, he may have been able to force a fourth-down punt. What was he saving them for?
Mike Preston: I really don’t know. As of today, he still had two left from that game.
But those timeouts didn’t matter. If the Ravens had made plays, they would have won. I know some people like to scrutinize everything, and I do, but that’s a little too much. I had some questions after the game, but they weren’t any about timeouts.
Gerry in Bel Air: I know everyone will be complaining about the offensive play-calling under Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco's play, but has the defensive scheme under Dean Pees the last two games seemed Greg Mattison-esque? Notwithstanding the loss of Terrell Suggs to injury and the departure of others, it still seems bland and reactive. What do you think?
Mike Preston: Mattison was bland, but Pees isn’t. He has tried a lot of different things to get a pass rush and to play better defense, but there are a lot of holes to fill. There is no Jarret Johnson, Cory Redding or Terrell Suggs. Safety Ed Reed is old and linebacker Ray Lewis is older.
The Ravens have some young guys out there playing, like Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, Terrence Cody, Albert McClellan, Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb. It’s going to take some time to improve.
In Baltimore, we’re used to having a Top 10 defense. If the Ravens finish in the Top 15 and they can score some points, they’ll be OK. Right now, fans need to have patience with the defense.
Aaron A.: What are the Ravens going to do for a second cornerback? Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith are getting schooled.
Mike Preston: Aaron, they can’t do anything. Those are the best on the roster. What you see is what you’re going to get. But don’t give up hope. Williams is still struggling with a hip injury and Smith needs more playing time.
If they don’t pan out by midseason, Harbaugh should sign the First Lady.
Dr. Ken from Frederick: I love Dennis Pitta, however, did Joe go to him too many times? Finally, it appeared we did not get separation on many of the routes. Was that the fault of the WRs or the play-calling? Thank you Mr. Preston, I will hang up and await your comments.
Mike Preston: Not only did Flacco go to him too many times, he stared him down from the moment Pitta left the line of scrimmage. I know Pitta might be his go-to guy, but let’s not get carried away. After all, he is a tight end and certainly not to be confused with John Mackey.
As for the Eagles, they played double man and pressed the Ravens at the line of scrimmage. In some cases, the Ravens weren’t physical and strong enough to get off the line of scrimmage. With veteran Anquan Boldin, he doesn’t get much separation anymore. The Ravens need to make some adjustments. With an explosive receiver like Torrey Smith, they should use him in motion more so cornerbacks can’t get their hands on him. They could also run more crossing routes and rubs, which they didn’t do against the Eagles.
Michael Wilson: All you guys do is sit back and criticize....it's clear that none of you never played pro football.....The reason your home team suck because you guys are the worst supporters...here's my question who has the better nfl reporters? Not ravens
Mike Preston: Mr. Wilson, I just looked at the NFL’s all-time roster and I didn’t see your name in there either. But after reading you question or your statement, I must admit I went home and felt bad because I offended you. I hit the dog and kicked the cat. I confess, I am just one miserable person.
So now, I have come to the conclusion that I will no longer write anything negative about the Ravens. If they give up 400 or so yards of total offense, I will ignore it. If they allow 75 points, I will only write about the greatness of the other team. If Flacco throws four interceptions, I will not give any commentary.
You see Mr. Wilson, I don’t want to be an objective journalist anymore. You have opened my eyes. My goal is to make you happy. I belong to you. And I will make this agreement right here and right now. If I ever write one more piece criticizing the Ravens, then you have the right to never send me any more of your stupid questions and silly statements.
Is that cool?
By the way, I checked with the folks in Canton. Your bust isn’t in there, either.