Gerald in Lancaster, Pa.: It's time to stop sugarcoating the Ravens' deficiencies just because we got the win. The fact is, Joe Flacco doesn't perform on the road. What was that play at the two-minute warning? A planned QB sack? Flacco all but kneeled down while Torrey Smith was wide open to the right. Can you imagine Tom Brady taking a sack and punting the ball to the opposition when a first down seals a victory?! The D isn't good enough his year to play this type strategy.

Mike Preston:


Gerald, no, I can't see Tom Brady taking a sack and punting the ball in a similar situation Joe Flacco is no Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. He is playing poorly on the road and well at home, which is why I had no problems with him taking the sack. You answered your own question. He is no Tom Brady.

Andy in Hagerstown (actually sunny Key West): I have to ask about the systemic issues with our offense under Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh. I believe our ranking is 20th now. Have we really shown any significant progress since Cameron and Harbaugh have been here? Isn't it time for the Ravens organization to hope that a Norv Turner becomes available to run our offense? After all, Harbs always says we are looking to improve our football team.

Mike Preston:

Every year, there are high hopes for the offense. Every year, the Ravens start off strong and they fizzle. Personally, I think Flacco has hit his ceiling with the offense and this offense is limited. I thought he had taken a major step this season, but he is back to being inconsistent. But, I'm also a big picture guy. The Ravens have been to the playoffs every year under Harbaugh, Cameron and Flacco, and a couple more key receptions or a made field goal puts them in one or two Super Bowls. In two AFC championship games, coaching didn't cost them, player execution did. We can get frustrated with certain aspects of the Ravens, but they usually overcome them.

I assume if the Ravens look to replace Cameron, they will look either up or down the hall to Jim Caldwell, the team's current quarterbacks coach. But I don't think that Cameron will be going anywhere.

Howard: Happy Thanksgiving! I've recently heard your concern with paying Joe Flacco "elite" QB money when the Ravens discuss his contract situation. My question to you is this: how can you not pay him what he wants? Flacco controls the dice. He and his agent know the Ravens don't want to go back into the draft for a QB? Flacco wins games. He doesn't make mistakes. Continue to get the guy more weapons. He will keep winning games!

Mike Preston:

Flacco is a good quarterback, certainly one that can win the Super Bowl, but he isn't elite. Elite quarterbacks perform at a high level on the road as well as home. I would pay Flacco what he deserves and he should get paid as much as any quarterback in the top 5 to 10 range. As far as the draft, there is plenty of talent out there. All you had to do was watch Monday Night Football and watch that kid from the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, play. He is in his second year and threw the hell out of the ball. Whenever change is a possibility, fans love to say, "well, who can we get better? There is no one else out there."

They said that about Brian Billick, and the Ravens hired Harbaugh, and Billick can't get another job. Everyone is replaceable.

With that said, I have no problems with Flacco coming back. He has a strong arm, unselfish, modest and plays within the system. He is a team player. I hope they re-sign him, but the Ravens have to be careful about the price and not mortgage away the future. You don't pay a quarterback for being elite when he just becomes a game manager on the road or in certain situations. I don't think I'm asking for anything out of the way, Howard.

If Ray Lewis is able to come back late in the season from the triceps injury, do you think he will try to increase his playing weight again since he was getting pushed around frequently at the lighter weight? If he can return, it might work to his benefit, as he would not have been able to increase his playing weight during the season if he was healthy.

Because of inactivity, I assume Lewis would come back heavier if he returns this season. It would definitely help him because he was getting pushed around earlier in the season. A lot of people like to say the NFL has become pass happy, but the NFL is a league of opportunity. If you can't stop the run, teams will stay on you until you find a way to stop it. I think Lewis rolled the dice, and he lost when it came to weight reduction. He wanted to improve his chances of staying on the field in third-down situations, but it cost him when it came to stopping the run.

Mike B.: How good do you think the special teams have been this year compared to past years (including the 2000 season)? How good can they be and do you think they'll continue to play this way?

If it weren't for special teams, the Ravens might be 6-4 or 5-5. These units have been outstanding. We've all seen the success of Jacoby Jones returning kicks and punts and rookie Justin Tucker converting on field goals, but the cover guys have been spectacular. The Ravens have some really outstanding nuts (that's in a positive sense) to run down the field in running back Anthony Allen and safety James Ihedigbo. I focused on those two a lot during the Steelers game and they were more entertaining than any of the players on offense or defense on both teams. They talked a lot of trash, played with great emotion and seemed to have a competition to see who was going to make a tackle or a play.


I'm not in the comparison stuff because that team in 2000 was great and this group is making its own mark. But special teams are often overlooked unless the units are performing poorly, but the Ravens have been outstanding.

Bill: We never see a backfield with two halfbacks and a fullback, like the Ravens had in 2008. Why?

Bill, I have no problems with the Ravens backfield of halfbacks Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and fullback Vonta Leach. If they used them all together or in any other combination, I would not complain. I have more concerns about the consistency of every unit on offense except for the running backs. Regardless of the down, distance or score, you're going to get 100 percent every time. If Cameron went to a full house backfield and used all three players at one time, that would be interesting and could create a lot of problems.

Drew in Reisterstown: When it is third down with 6 or more yards to go, why do the Ravens constantly throw a dink pass that is less than what they need to get the first? Why bother even throwing the ball that short? Granted, all of the receivers may not be open every time, but it is so frustrating to watch. It's obvious our coaching staff does not understand the opponents enough to figure this out yet.

I agree with you, Drew. Receivers have to learn to run beyond the markers and then comeback if necessary. I'm not sure if it is the coaching or the players, but the Ravens have to improve in that area. I believe players are taught that on a high school level, but in some cases you have to go where there is an opening versus a zone.


Dave, Los Angeles: We hear a lot about how recent draft picks haven't lived up to expectations (Paul Kruger, Terrance Cody, Jimmy Smith, etc.). Some blame the players for not realizing their potential, others blame Ozzie and his staff for missing on their evaluations. How much responsibility should fall on the coaches?

Dave: Let's hold off before we make final judgement and see how this plays out. After talking with Harbaugh earlier this season, he said a young player becomes a veteran after his fourth season and a lot of the players, especially on defense, are right within that time frame. I don't know how much the Ravens will improve by the end of the season, but in the last couple of games I have seen more consistency out of Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, Arthur Jones, Dannell Ellerbe and seen some potential in young players like DeAngelo Tyson and Bryan Hall.

That will be the key to the season. In the first half, guys like Kruger, Cody, Jones didn't step up their game. Because of changes and more opportunity to play, they have gotten better. So, let's see where this will end up before we start taking it completely apart.

C. Merritt: Why do you write about the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun when you seem to hate Baltimore, the paper, the readers and the fans?

But I love you, C. Merritt. Hugs and kisses. Love Mikey-Pooh.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun