Each week, Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer questions from readers about the Ravens. You can submit questions during every game to email@example.com.
Here are this week's questions and answers:
Mike, It was nice to see Tyrod Taylor used in certain packages on Sunday. Why has it taken the Ravens brain trust so long? We could have used him for a different "look" last week in red zone situations, especially with our red zone success so anemic. -- Wayne M.
Wayne, I have no idea why it took so long. The use of Taylor has been advocated by me for weeks. Apparently, others have similar questions about Taylor. Please read on for additional thoughts.
Do you think Taylor was used effectively? If not, how would you use him differently? -- T-Bizzle
I think Taylor was used effectively, for the most part. I liked that he was sprinkled in throughout the game and mostly used to run.
However, there were a few things I did not like about the package.
I didn't think it was appropriate to bring him in the game following a 60-yard completion by Joe Flacco. It seemed like the plays were all predetermined hand-offs instead of true read options, and I really didn't like the body language displayed by Flacco on those plays.
The Taylor package is being used as a gimmick because the offense is not very good. If Flacco -- and the offense as a whole -- were playing better, this package would not even be talked about. A good teammate and leader would actively participate instead of keeping his hands in his pouch and not taking a single step at the snap of the ball.
Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have both been used in the Wildcat and actually participated. They have more Super Bowl rings and more respect around the league than No. 5. Flacco should look in the mirror to see the reason this package is needed instead of making it 10 players against 11 when the Ravens use it.
If Flacco isn't carrying this team, who is? -- Jerry B.
The defense, for the first three quarters. They are wearing down a little in the fourth quarter from all the three-and-outs on offense though.
What's your take on the Haloti Ngata situation? Clearly he is the best option for the Ravens today. However, he seems to have been suffering from injuries the past few years that have prevented him from dominating his way into Player of the Year discussions as he was in the past. How long can he keep this up? And when does his replacement need to be drafted? -- Steve G.
Steve, Ngata has been dealing with injuries for years, and he has not lived up to the big money deal the Ravens gave him several years ago. However, he is still better than most defensive tackles in the league, and he mostly plays on one leg. I would think the Ravens need to address his contract after this season, but it may be hard with the limited time remaining on the deal and how much money was pro-rated based on the bonuses paid to him. Drafting a replacement for Ngata is not that easy. The Ravens have not drafted in the top 20 for the past five seasons, and players of his caliber rarely fall that far without some type of major character issue.
Now, after 11 games, can you say any of our draft picks have been helpful? -- Rocco F.
Rocco, first-round pick Matt Elam is still learning the NFL game, but you can see improvement. He has been starting since Week 2, so yes, he has been "helpful."
The rest of the class has dealt with injuries and been role players. Give it another year or two before we throw out the babies with the bath water.
Looking ahead to the offseason, could we see a similar salary cap purge as last year? Which players do you think will be gone? Ngata heads my list. Maybe even Ray Rice? I don't see any way that Michael Oher or Jacoby Jones are back after hitting free agency. Your thoughts? -- Bill, Dundalk
Bill, I think you will definitely see a number of players gone after this year. I am not sure a salary cap purge is going to occur, but as discussed in previous weeks, you can look at Rice, Vonta Leach, Jones and Oher as potentially playing for a different team next year.
Marlon Brown hasn't been much of a factor in the passing game lately due to the injury, and Brandon Stokley has been disappointing to what I expected. Do you expect Dennis Pitta to make an impact when he returns? Or do the other teams know he's Flacco's go-to guy and they'll scheme against him from the beginning? -- D.T., Owings Mills
If Dennis Pitta returns this year, I would temper my expectations. He is coming back from a significant injury and will need time to get into football shape. If the Week 14 projection is correct, and the Ravens still have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs, he won't have much time to show what he is capable of doing.
Teams always scheme to take away your best players. Pitta will not be the primary focus with Torrey Smith still on the field.
What grade would you give Elvis Dumervil for his performance so far this season? He seems to be a hit-or-miss player, but I've been happy with the way he wreaks havoc in the pass rush. Thanks, Mike. -- Tim, Laurel
I give him a solid B. The pass-rushing is just as advertised, but he lacks in the run and coverage game. I also like the leadership I see with younger players.
Has Jonathan Ogden's toe completely healed yet? Do you think you can ask him if he'd be interested in coming back and playing another season or two? -- LordBern, Bel Air
No. The only game big J.O. plays now is golf.
What's your prediction for Thursday night? It looks like it's going to be another cold, windy day. Do we win with a field goal by Justin Tucker in overtime? -- Christopher, Mount Airy
Come on, man! We have a time and place for predictions every week in The Baltimore Sun. Check it out there. Here is a hint though, the Ravens rarely lose at home...