6:31 PM EDT, October 7, 2013
The Ravens had a character win against Miami on Sunday. Because of injuries, they were low on receivers as well as offensive linemen. They were playing in heat and had not won a game on the road this season.
But there are still problems that need to be addressed. The running game has to get better and the pass protection needs to improve. Maybe the top priority this week is fixing coverage in the secondary, especially stopping big plays.
Against Miami, the Ravens gave up receptions of 49, 46, 30 and 45 yards. That was against Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If the Ravens give up those kinds of plays against the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, they could get blown out.
Rodgers is the best all around quarterback in the NFL.
"We have a huge, huge game next week with A-Rod coming in," said Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs, "and we're definitely playing against one of the best quarterbacks in the league. We have our hands full again next week."
Rodgers can beat a team as a drop-back passer, but he is also accurate throwing on the run. He has a quick release and no fear.
"We will work hard on the extended coverage where the quarterback scrambles," Ravens John Harbaugh said. "It has always been a big emphasis for us, always will."
Suggs said: "Like I said, we have the Green Bay Packers next week and then we all know who we have after that."
Protecting Jacoby Jones
Receiver Jacoby Jones is expected to practice again this week and Harbaugh didn't hesitate saying he would insert him as the returner if he is healthy even if current returner, Tandon Doss, is playing well.
If Jones returns, it would give the Ravens instant offense as well as help in the field position battle. Jones can turn a game around in a second. Doss has occasional big play ability, but is limited compared to Jones because of Jones' great speed.
"It's the kind of question we have been asking ourselves," said Harbaugh of Jones playing. "It depends on how he looks in practice. If he looks good, we'll put him out there. If not, then we'll have to protect."
Have patience with McKinnie
Left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie didn't play well against Miami, and there is speculation the Ravens might cut him if Eugene Monroe is ready to start this week.
Patience is suggested here.
McKinnie played poorly, but Miami does have a strong defensive line. Speed and quickness have never been assets of McKinnie. The Ravens should make a decision based on McKinnie's attitude.
If he is sulking and doesn't want to practice once Monroe becomes the starter, then cut him. If not, then keep him on the roster as a backup. McKinnie's experience is invaluable and could be helpful in the postseason.
Right now rookie Rick Wagner would replace Monroe if McKinnie leaves. The kid isn't ready for the speed that comes off the corner yet.
Running game is back?
The Ravens were a little excited about their running game in the second half against the Dolphins, but they still need to make a lot of progress.
Besides the poor play of the offensive line in the first half, running back Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were both hesitant and slow to accelerate.
Throughout his career, Rice has been one of the toughest runners to tackle because of his power, leverage and body lean. But he hasn't broken many tackles this season and Pierce, a downhill runner last season, has been juking too much.
Maybe the second half against Miami was the rebirth of a strong running game.
Stubborn Dolphins' offense
The Ravens sacked Tannehill six times including three from Suggs. If Suggs got a game ball, he should give part of his paycheck to Miami head coach Joe Philbin.
Despite collecting six other hurries on Tannehill, the Dolphins refused to roll him out of the pocket.
"I think we had one keeper, I think in the third quarter, other than that I think that was the only rollout," Tannehill said.
Smith, Flacco develop
Wide receiver Torrey Smith and quarterback Joe Flacco have a good chemistry and the Ravens have been successful getting Smith the ball in space especially in clear outs and crossing routes over the middle.
They might also want to run a few hitches and bubble screens to Smith as well.
"It's like a brother-type relationship where you argue and we mess around about who's right or who's wrong," said Smith of his relationship with Flacco. "But at the end of the day we get on the same page and that's a great relationship to have because nothing is ever taken personally, and it's all constructive, whether I'm wrong or not, I know he wants what's best for our unit and it's my job to be on the same page with him."
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