Ryan makes up with Lewis, challenges Ravens

When the Ravens celebrated the 10th anniversary of their 2000 Super Bowl team over the weekend, one of the assistant coaches to come back was New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan said he participated in a dinner Saturday night. He left afterward, heading back to New York, because the Jets began preparations for their game this weekend against the Green Bay Packers. It would have been interesting to see the crowd reaction Sunday if Ryan were introduced with former Ravens assistants Jim Colletto and Matt Simon.

"The event was great," said Ryan, a former Ravens defensive line coach and coordinator. "I stay close with of a bunch of these guys like Tony Siragusa, Rob Burnett and Larry Webster. I coached Brad Jackson in Cincinnati and I hadn't seen Jelly Roll [ Lional Dalton] in a while. The current guys were just coming out of a meeting so I got a chance to say hello to Haloti [Ngata], T.J. Housh [Houshmandzadeh] and Joe Flacco."

Ryan also said he got a chance to talk with Ray Lewis, and they settled any differences they may have had heading into the season opener in New York. The Ravens beat the Jets, 10-9.

"The kiss-and-makeup thing went well," said Ryan, laughing. "I spent 10 years with Ray, and I know what happens going into the week before a big game. No one has to tell me how competitive he is, and we just needed to make sure it wasn't personal.

"Ray is a Baltimore Raven, he is an icon, which is why it was funny to hear people say I tried to bring him with me," said Ryan. "I wouldn't have done that, but that didn't mean I didn't think about it.

Ryan took a lot of criticism after the Ravens loss, but the Jets have won five straight.

"Like I said, this organization treated me well," said Ryan of the Ravens. "I applied for the job here and didn't get it, which was bull. But everything turned out well. I think fans in New York have learned that I am not right all the time, but just about 90 percent of the time.

"We're a lot better team than we were in the first game because all our guys are here," Ryan said. "Nobody is going to want to play us. Maybe we'll see the Ravens again, and we'll see who outplays who and who outcoaches who."

Candid receivers

One shared quality among receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is bluntness. You ask them a question; they will give you a true answer.

So, it was good to hear that the three have a good relationship even though the offense is still feeling things out.

"I think the thing is, we just — and it's a good problem to have — we have so many guys that can make plays on the field," Boldin said. "When you look at it, the receivers that we have, getting Donte' [Stallworth] back soon, the running backs that we have, it's almost like a three-headed monster in the backfield. And, we have a group of tight ends that can really make plays down the field. It's just trying to figure out a way to get everybody the ball, which like I said, it's a great problem to have."

Stallworth gives the Ravens speed, a major ingredient in beating a Cover 2 defense, which has given the Ravens problems.

"Well, obviously he has a lot of speed, and teams are going to have to prepare for some different packages when we get him back," said Flacco. "And hopefully, he can stretch the field for us a little bit and at least scare some teams."

Well said, Mr. Flacco.

Start F. Washington

Coach John Harbaugh should start cornerback Fabian Washington in the next game.

Obviously, Washington had a bad game against the Bills, but when you give up 502 yards of total offense, who didn't? You can point fingers at the inside linebackers who didn't get good drops, or the outside linebackers, ends and tackles who didn't get a consistent pass rush. The tackling was atrocious.

Another thing the Ravens should work on during the bye week is disguising blitzes. The Ravens give it away when the safeties start inching toward the line of scrimmage before the snap, and when Lewis goes into a staggered stance. They might as well call the quarterbacks on the head phone and tell him they are coming.

Quit complaining

No more complaints about firing coordinators Cam Cameron and Greg Mattison. OK, they've had some issues but for the most part both have performed well.

They are going to call some plays that won't work out in every game, but in the big picture, the Ravens are 5-2. Now, if this team isn't getting better in the final quarter of the season, then it's time to heat up the discussions.

Blocking needs to get better

We all agree that the Ravens return specialists have been less than average. That pirouette by Josh Wilson last week was funny, but embarrassing for the Ravens.

But the Ravens need to improve the blocking before they change runners. There are no holes and no lanes. Deion Sanders couldn't make a difference with this group until the blocking gets better.

Troy Smith's 15 minutes

Former Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith will start for the 49ers against the Denver Broncos this week in London. I don't know about you, but I already ordered my Super Bowl tickets to watch the 49ers play in Dallas.

Smith is a legend. … in his own mind.


Listen to Mike Preston on "The Bruce Cunningham Show" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday and Friday on 105.7 FM.

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