Saying that we barely survived week 4 is a drastic understatement. Simmons and Mendenhall lost for the season and Ben won’t be far behind unless we can string together something resembling a goddamn O-line. Jeff Reed, Baltimore Penalties and above all – DEFENSE eked this one out for us.
Ben’s ability to scramble and improvise was on full display. Arians designed the offensive game plan for Ben’s hot reads and some counters and traps early and it worked, but only until Baltimore adjusted. I’m still not convinced that enough quick outs and slants are included in the play book for #7’s benefit. But hopefully the biggest revelation in this young season was that he was essentially the play-caller once we shifted to the no-huddle and lead three successful drives in the second half and overtime.
3 sacks, 3 false starts and missed blocks galore. After Philly, we knew it was going to be bad, but Christ. Kemoeatu’s worst game, without question, as he was manhandled into the backfield on a number of critical downs in the first half. Marvel and Hartwig weren’t far behind. Simmons’ large and re-upped contract is depressing now, but at least Stapleton seemed somewhat adept in there. I just can’t get over how wide open the middle is on blitzing downs.
Wide Receivers: B-
Low total of only 191 yards, but most well-rounded distribution of passes to date. Considering Ben was under siege all game, it does give us some hope for future matchups. On the other hand, I was one Holmes catch and run for TD away from drinking paint thinner.
Tight Ends: D
Atrocious blocking as two of the sacks came right over Spaeth and Miller. Conversely, Heath Miller continued to look decent as Ben’s safety valve even if it was for only a few yards. The more comfortable Ben gets with play calling and adjusting, the more I expect to see Miller hauling them in.
Running Backs: C
So much for Mendenhall, who was actually moving the ball somewhat with 3.3 yards per. And now we have Poops Davenport…I’ll be curious to see how the backs are mixed in against the Jags who typically have a stout run D. Holding out hope that FWP will return after the bye week, but if you were him, would you be excited about that?
Considering the lack of depth here, LeBeau continues to look like a masterful schemer. Our D-line improved on last week’s performance to command even more double teams, freeing up our LBs to make some seriously impactful plays. Kirschke looked impressive, with seven tackles, three solo.
Quite simply the best linebacking corps in the league. Harrison and Woodley were absolutely swarming, combining for 4 sacks! Foote and Farrior both played mistake free ball. The dicks in the booth went on about Timmons getting run over by McClain for the TD, but he snagged a sack too.
Defensive Backs: B+
Only Mason did any damage, catching the bulk of the 192 yards passing for Flacco, not bad as I’m thinking he’ll be putting up a bunch more as the season progresses. Typical bend, but don’t break secondary with nobody getting burnt real long. First game without a pick for Polamalu.
Jeff Reed is quickly becoming one of the heroes of this season. Touchbacks and game winners = all you can ask for out of your PK. Berger is another story, a few shanks and a few pins inside the 10; not the model of consistency I’d hope for.
Still fearful of Holmes back there for punts, but he did well. Not so for the kickoff squad, it seems like the first guy down the field for the other team makes the solo tackle every time - unacceptable. Coverage was average as the Ravens started on the 21, 12, 27, 26.
Tomlin says the right things, but I am starting to wonder if he’s doubting his personnel on the field (O-line)…or off it. I’ll be real interested to see what level of freedom Roethlisberger is given against Jacksonville. It’s important to note that Tomlin selected Arians from a short list of available O-Coordinators after he was named head coach so late…wonder if he’s regretting that move.
· I muted the MNF crew about three plays into the game and don’t regret it one bit. I highly recommend using WDVE’s internet stream if that’s at all possible…especially when Kornheiser is involved.
· Welcome to the AFC North, John Harbaugh…
· I think it’s fair to say that Jacksonville won’t exhibit the defensive prowess of Baltimore or Philly, but the rationale that we have what it will take to overcome theirs isn’t exactly sound, either. Other than a healthy Ryan Clark, we have the exact same team that was stunned by Jacksonville only now, we’re on the road…
· December 14th is already shaping up to be a big game
OVERALL GRADE: C- (GOOD ENOUGH)