Browns to top Ravens.
I don’t normally do previews but I have several thoughts on this game. The bettor in me is trying like hell to lean Ravens and the Browns fan in me is screaming that that’s the smart play. But in the filtering, I keep coming back to the Browns +2.5 at home over the loathsome Ravens.
Ravens’ offensive line mess.
Keleche Osemele is out and Michael Oher has a bad ankle. Eugene Monroe is a new plug-in at left tackle having been acquired a month ago for third day draft picks.1 So that’s a completely new left side of the line (was McKinnie/Osemele, is now Monroe/Shipley?Wagner?). And don’t forget that possible HOF-er Matt Birk has been replaced from last year’s line with Gino Gradkowski and per my new PFF subscription, he’s given up 16 QB Hurries this so he’s good for two hurries a game. You want more? Good I’ve got more. The Ravens’ SBNation blog keeper Jason Butt offered this quote to DBN:
… as now-former Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie said last week, Castillo came in and wanted to change every lineman’s technique to the point where it began confusing everyone. Guys like Marshal Yanda were all of a sudden missing assignments. The tackles weren’t protecting well. Rice and Pierce look like they have no idea which direction to run. It’s a big mess there.
Butt’s point about the line being messed up is validated with a PFF look at then and now.
So the Ravens’ o-line has gotten worse since the 9/15 game in Baltimore where Brandon Weeden had more passing yards than Flacco and where Rice/Pierce together didn’t get over 100 yards rushing.
They really aren’t the same team, how could they be? Here’s how their depth chart was transforming as of March. That’s a lot of turnover. Ozzie played chicken with Flacco and lost and wound up paying a ‘just OK’ QB elite dollars and gutting his team in the process. Flacco rates just above Robert Griffin and just below Christian Ponder at 29th in PFF’s cumulative stats for QBs.
They did NOT want to lose Ellerbe. They had no plan for replacing both ILBs; second round draft pick Arthur Brown hasn’t been able to break into the starting lineup. (Sidebar, they didn’t care if they lost Kruger.)
The Ravens are a shell of last year’s team.
Anyone but Weeden.
The insertion of Hoyer and Campbell into this offense has pointed up how utterly horrendous Brandon Weeden was. And he didn’t help his case with Kanick with his scripted mouthings about not getting too high or too low when asked about his shitty play.
“Not the way we drew it up,” said Weeden. –after three picks against Miami;
“You gotta bounce back (1),” said Weeden. “There’s no reason to feel sorry for ourselves (2). We’ve got to find a way to win games (3). This is a strong-willed, strong-minded team(4). It’s early in the year(5).” –Weeden going for broke with five consecutive hackneyed sentences after first loss to Baltimore;
“It takes time. That’s a pretty complex defense, good front four, good defense. It takes time. I was a little rusty coming out of the chute, overthrowing routes. There’s no excuses, I have to come in and operate.” –offering four/five excuses preceding his ‘no excuse’ talk after the Bills game;
“I didn’t want to take a sack there. .. It’s almost better to take the sack there and move onto the next play. I was just trying to avoid taking the sack and throw it over his head.” –about his peculiar interception vs. Detroit.
And finally, this:
Weeden: "Last I checked we're guaranteed 15 more games." Not you Brandon. http://t.co/lIWegafx2F
— mike b. (@603_brown) September 9, 2013
The Weeden quote machine was priceless in retrospect. It’s good that we can laugh about it now.
So not only do we not have Weeden,,,
Josh Gordon is good at football.
Browns didn’t have Josh Gordon in the first Ravens game. Jordan Cameron had a drop or two and has settled down and become quite a player. That’s effectively two top playmakers in the lineup who weren’t in the last game at Baltimore with Weeden and where the Browns still out-yardaged the Ravens’ passing game.
What does the result of a game in 2008 have to do with anything?
Hey you guys! The Ravens have beaten the Browns in eleven straight games! Don’t know if you heard about this or not, wanted to make sure you had this data in case ESPN/NFLN/CBS fail to mention it a dozen times each. (They won’t.) See Haden’s quote above, this ain’t the old Ravens and these aren’t the old Browns.
That last part will take some getting used to and I admit I’m not fully there. The win today is going to fix that for me and all of us.
And just because: