Over-reaction is alive and well
I woke up this morning to a world in which Peyton Manning had already broken the NFL single-season TD passing record. Except, he still needs 44 touchdowns this season to break the record - essentially three per game. Yet because he threw seven last night, analysts figure he's good for five a game from here on: He's on pace for 80!
Over-reaction is alive and well.
Still, it could happen. Who has the second-easiest schedule for quarterbacks this season, based on last year's defensive stats? Peyton Manning (Tony Romo has the easiest).
Did you know that in the last three seasons over a third of all playoff teams lost their first game of the season? The key to week one reaction is to analyze the game, the players and perception and figure out what is hype and what is indicative of things to come...
Two big wide receiver moves foretold that outcome
I thought the Ravens trading Anquan Boldin to the 49ers was the worst move of the offseason. Maybe the only dumber move was Joe Flacco taking all that money and letting it happen. Few wide receivers - maybe only Megatron - were the key that turn on their team's engine last season the way Boldin was in Baltimore. He was an animal, pulling down spectacular monster catch after spectacular monster catch. He finished with 921 yards on 65 catches last season, but those numbers don't tell the story of third-down conversions that kept the offense rolling.
Last night, with Ravens receivers dropping passes left and right as Flacco attempted 62 passes, was a direct result of this trade. And by the way, no matter who's missing on the Denver defense, attempting 62 passes is no way to win a game, much less beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
The other big piece was Wes Welker leaving New England for Denver. Julius Thomas owes Welker Mizuna for his break-out night, drawing attention from the tight end in the first half. Once the Raven defense adjusted, Welker exploded and the route was on.
How much the au revoir to Welker will hurt the Patriots is yet to be seen. We'll know more Sunday afternoon....
The Ravens' defense is as bad as I thought it would be
The Ravens gave up 49 points last night - the most the team has ever given up in a single game. Ever. Like, since the Roman Empire.
This wasn't a fluke.
First, the Ravens' passing defense wasn't that good last year, finishing in the middle of the pack in both yards per attempt and yards allowed; Their rushing defense was only a little better. Despite winning the Super Bowl and beating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the playoffs last year, they just weren't that good.
Second, the team simply lost too much leadership, too much attitude. I heard analysts say over the last week that the defense was better because the guys who replaced Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and Bernard Pollard were "better" than those guys. But ask the Patriots what happens when you lose long-time defensive leaders: Even if they're on the downward slope of their career, you suffer.
The Broncos have some work to do with their pass defense
Until Michael Oher went down with an injury, the Broncos had virtually no pass rush. Interestingly, the first time the Broncos got penetration into the backfield last night on a blitz...Joe Flacco threw his first interception.
On the back side, Ravens receivers were getting wide the hell open. On one play, Torrey Smith was in a ZIP code all by himself as the cornerback on his side jumped a short route; The pass rush got to Flacco at the last split second, but it could have -- should have -- been disaster. The Broncos got lucky so many Ravens receivers just couldn't hold onto the ball; I'm not sure that's going to happen week in and week out.
Whither the running game?
Heading into fantasy-draft season, every "expert" told me I had to pick up running backs early and often. One of those running backs was Ray Rice, who attempted only 12 rushes for a meager 36 yards. The two teams attempted only 42 rushes for 125 yards...under three yards per carry.
Certainly the rushing game wasn't going to be featured by these two teams. But it was interesting to see the pass-to-rush ratio explode to 111-to-42...in the rain. Will we see a more balanced attack from teams this Sunday? Stay tuned.
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