Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers your questions about the Ravens, who won the AFC wild-card playoff game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, Preston discusses the Ravens' weaknesses against the Steelers, whether Cam Cameron's job is safe, Art Modell and the Hall of Fame, Joe Flacco, Todd Heap, Anquan Boldin, and more.
Love your stuff, Mr. Preston. Great win [Sunday] in KC but now I must focus on the slugfest slated for Saturday... What would you say are Pittsburgh's biggest weaknesses and what can the Ravens do to attack these areas?
The key for the Ravens will be the offensive line and pass protection. Few teams run against the Steelers, but if you can hold up under the pressure from their front seven, then their cornerbacks are vulnerable. The key for the Ravens is to keep quarterback Joe Flacco upright. Pittsburgh's cornerbacks do not match up well with the Ravens' receivers, but because they bring so much pressure, the Ravens often have to use running back Ray Rice and tight end Todd Heap as pass blockers.
Switching gears here; don't you think this whole "Keep Modell out of the Hall of Fame" thing has gotten old? I mean does one act that offends a portion of the fanbase of the League, and conversely elates another portion reasonably amount to leaving a deserving man out of an exclusive class? Or is there a bigger issue here that most people outside the media don't see; insider opinion please.
Art Modell was involved in a clash of wills, so to speak, with a Cleveland sportswriter who is on the board of selectors. He says it is nothing personal, and that he won't vote for Art because his record is not impressive enough. I disagree and believe he should be in the Hall of Fame. But as long as that sportswriter has the strongest voice in the room, and he does because of the Cleveland base, Art will not get in. There have been so many rumors about why he doesn't get in, but that's it in a nutshell, along with the move from Cleveland.
Johnny St. Paul:
Josh Wilson seemed to play great! And obviously we shut down the passing game today. But can we collectively contain Mike Wallace? The guy is blazing fast.
The Steelers will take their shots with Wallce, and he is really improving as a receiver. I think you will see safety Ed Reed playing way off the line of scrimmage in this game because the Ravens don't want to give up a big play to Wallace. It's hard to shut him down like the Ravens did against Dwayne Bowe Sunday because Wallace has outstanding speed, but he can be contained.
Did this game save Cam Cameron's job? Is Cam hoping for a head coaching job with a good playoff run. Looked like Joe started throwing over the middle to Heap and Anquan Boldin. Nice to see Anquan back in the game.
Just about every coordinator wants to become a head coach, and no, beating up on Kansas City didn't save his job. I think the Ravens' offense has to step it up a level in the playoffs for this team to make a deep run. As for Cameron looking for a head coaching job, I don't think that is on his mind right now. He wants to win. When a coach is under scrutiny or his team is losing, they all go back to the basics and see what they were doing well. They work harder. In Cameron's situation, I think his head is down and he is plowing straight ahead trying to win games, not worrying about a head coaching job.
AZ Raven Fan:
Why wouldn't Harbaugh use [ Marc] Bulger in the last 2 minutes rather than risk injury to Flacco? I clearly blame Ed Reed for [Haruki] Nakumura's fumble. When will he get the hint to simply go down rather than risk a fumble?! This guy is a veteran, he should know better!
I would have played Bulger too, because Harbaugh had pulled several other veterans out. Maybe he has too much respect for Bulger to throw him in on mop-up duty. Flacco only handed the ball off, so it was no big deal. As for Nakamura, we all know why Ed Reed laterals. It's because he is Ed Reed, and he does whatever he wants to do. Why did Nakamura lateral? Because he was stupid. There is no other way to explain it.
Please explain why the NFL would have the sixth seed Jets play Sunday when they played on Saturday? The Jets will then have 7 days rest. While the fifth seed Ravens who played on Sunday will now play on Saturday accumulating only five days rest. How does this make sense? Both seeds should continue to play on the same day so neither team has a 2 day advantage on rest. What are you're thoughts on this Mike?
Big Bob, you are using wisdom and common sense. But this is the NFL. It's all about money and ratings. The Patriots have the league's best coach and the league's best quarterback. They get the feature game. It will always be that way.
The Ravens finally opened up the offense the way the fans have been asking for. The passing game is Pitt's weakness (see New England vs. Pitt game), so do you think the Ravens will continue with a more open passing offense against the Steeler? Will this be the time the Ravens get the monkey off their back and beat Rothlisburger?
The Ravens can't open it up against Pittsburgh the way they did against Kansas City. Against the Steelers, the Ravens have to use maximum protection, which includes keeping in backs and tight ends. I think the Ravens will have a lot of their offense evolve around tight end Todd Heap like last week, but he won't be beating the Steelers downfield as often as he chewed up the Chiefs. I suspect this will be another hard-hitting, low-scoring thriller. The X-factor for the Ravens is that they have so many veterans who want to get to the show either for the first time, or didn't win it the last time they were in it. My head says Big Ben and the Steelers, but I like Boldin, Houshmandzadeh, Mason, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Suggs, Heap and what they bring to the table. Fortunately, I don't have to make a prediction until Friday.
Mike in Pasadena:
Who do you think is the better offensive tackle: Michael Oher or Jared Gaither?
Gaither is a better left tackle because of his size, quickness, long arms and athleticism. Oher is a better right tackle because of his demeanor, brute strength and desire to maul the opposition.
Brian in Jefferson:
What is the biggest area of concern for next week and also next season? Offensive line? Secondary? Play calling?
It's the offensive line. The Ravens can fix it if they get a left tackle, move Marshal Yanda back to right guard and Oher back to right tackle. They would have that physical presence that has been lacking this season.
Was it my imagination or was Flacco's pocket presence much better in the second half?
Nope, Flacco's pocket awareness has improved significantly in the last month. Flacco still has a way to go, but he keeps getting better. Folks have to remember that Flacco didn't play at a major college, but at Delaware. Unfortunately, he had better do some growing up in the next two weeks because the Ravens put a lot of emphasis into this offense in preparation for this time period.