Monday, December 8, 2008

Postgame Report Card: Ravens 24, Redskins 10

The word of the game is... retro. This game can really be described as a reflection of the makeup of past Ravens teams. The offense was ineffective, but the defense shut down the Redskins and put the offense in position to score (not to mention putting up a score of their own). The revitalized offense did not, at least for the most part, show up in this game. The running game was inconsistent at best, and Joe Flacco had one of his more erratic games this season. The defense made up for those flaws, and held as best they could after the two second-half turnovers by the offense.

Hopefully the Ravens will not have to rely on their defense to win each of their games during the stretch, but I think all of the Baltimore faithful will take this one gladly.

Offense - Overall Grade:C-
Quarterbacks: D+

Joe Flacco had significant difficulty reading Washington’s defense, and was unusually erratic on his throws. Some of that can be attributed to the wind and poor conditions, but if the defense were not so dominant this evening there is no way his team would have won. The touchdown pass to Mason was severely underthrown, and the interception was not close.
Running Backs: C-
Willis McGahee, hurt or not, was terrible today. The Ravens gave him the start and gave him the ball often early in the game, but he could do very little with it. McGahee fumbled the ball twice, once recovering it himself and the second time losing it. Ray Rice came up with a couple of key plays, and Le’Ron McClain was a horse down the stretch.
Wide Receivers: B
Derrick Mason made an excellent adjustment on his 28-yard touchdown reception, and Mark Clayton had a solid game as well. There were very few opportunities for this group to make plays, as many of the passes were significantly overthrown.
Tight Ends: A
Todd Heap did an excellent job maintaining the weak side of the unbalanced line, and he reeled in two catches for 54 yards. All in all a tremendous day for Todd Heap, who seems to be gradually finding his place in this offense. His focus on the 30-yard lob pass was outstanding.
Offensive Line: C+
Not a bad day by any stretch, as Flacco had decent time in the pocket and the Redskins were not able to get consistent penetration into the backfield. I would have liked to see this group be able to open up more running lanes, as the Ravens’ backs did not have much opportunity to run successfully until later in the second half.

Defense - Overall Grade: A+
Defensive Line: A

Another excellent game, albeit against an offensive line crippled by injury. It still absolutely shocks me that Haloti Ngata is not near the top of the Pro Bowl voting for defensive tackles. If Albert Haynesworth is 1, Ngata is 1A.
Linebackers: A
Ray Lewis led the way with 13 total tackles, but each ‘backer played a part. I honestly felt a little bit bad for the former Terp Stephon Heyer when he was forced to block Suggs one-on-one.
Defensive Backs: A+
Ed Reed loves Sunday night.

Special Teams - Overall Grade: B
Kicker: A-

Matt Stover converted on a 32-yard field goal, and Hauschka performed decently on kickoffs considering the adverse conditions.
Punter: A-
It was a tough night to punt, and so it turned into a very modest day for Sam Koch. He averaged 41.3 yards on six punts; very good in these conditions, though under Koch’s season average. Good job of directional punting to set up the Ravens’ coverage units.
Returners: B-
Is Yamon Figurs losing his job? Again? Figurs returned a punt and a kick, but Jim Leonhard was also put in as both a punt returner and a kick returner, and came up with one very nice 25-yard kick return.
Coverage: B-
The coverage units were better today, but still far from where they need to be in my opinion. If the Ravens want to not only make the playoffs, but go somewhere in them, they need to button down their coverage. There is too much talent on this coverage unit for them to be letting in some of the returns that they do.

Coaching - Overall Grade: B
Offensive: C+

It’s hard to sugarcoat it: the offense was terrible today. The defense bailed the offense out of a very poor performance. Cam Cameron couldn’t find a way to get Joe Flacco in rhythm, and drives often ended before they could start. To his credit, though, he dialed up enough wrinkles in the offense to move down the field when they had to. Still, I have to wonder why Cameron is so reliant on the unbalanced line formation.
Defensive: A+
Rex Ryan had his players in position to shut down the Redskins’ attack, and were it not for a couple turnovers by the offense, he would have added another shutout to his resume.

And for my MVP/LVP...
MVP (Most Valuable Player) –Ed Reed–Three tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, two interceptions, and a touchdown. I think John Madden had it right in summing up Ed Reed as the quintessential ‘ball hawk’. Okay, maybe he didn’t use the word quintessential…
LVP (Least Valuable Player) –Willis McGahee– I hate to keep getting on one player, but Willis McGahee really does need to step up his game if he wants to keep his starting job. In the first half he had an unforced fumble that he (thankfully) recovered, which set the Ravens back to a second and 18 in the shadow of their own endzone. 11 carries for 32 yards and two fumbles is not acceptable for your starting tailback, or any running back for that matter.

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