Hurricane Sandy certainly left an impact upon Ravens Nation... there was much damage done to property and psyches of Ravens fans all along the coast and bay-lines and inner portions of Maryland. It certainly put the previous criticisms of Ravens' fans of their home team in perspective... Despite losing a bad outing to the Houston Texans prior to their bye week, the Ravens are still at 5-2, and ready to take on the Cleveland Browns.
The Ravens coaching staff has had about a week-and-a-half to evaluate the egg laid against Houston. But maybe for the better, Hurricane Sandy has brought everything into perspective.
Loss of life and property is more important than football.
And hurricanes cannot be controlled... but personal attention to better performance by the Ravens can be...
By now the Ravens know they have got to get a better job at the point of attack from their offensive line...
But that doesn't necessarily mean changing out players. It means getting the existing rotation of players to play better and faster.
Ryan Mink has a nice piece on this theme at Ravens.com this week as the hurricane subsides...
"Don’t expect any drastic positional shake-ups for the Ravens after the bye," says Mink.
After a week of pondering what changes the Ravens should make after their week off, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh explained Monday that there won’t be any big maneuvers.
“We’re not making any wholesale changes,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not like we have to switch everything around and make some huge, momentous moves.
“But we’re always trying to look at the best batting order, the best lineup we can put out on the field at any particular time, and getting as many good players involved as we possibly can.”
Harbaugh discussed a litany of possible changes last week, following the 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans. He talked about staying more patient with the run game, utilizing fullback Vonta Leach more and working some new faces into the offensive and defensive lines.
But that doesn't mean all five starters up front are going to be mixed and matched.
"I can just tell you that the whole offensive line is not going to re-ordered on Wednesday," Harbaugh said. "We’re not doing that."
Changes on the lines could include possibly seeing more of tackle/guard Jah Reid, who is back from his calf injury, or rookie center Gino Gradkowski. [Bryan Hall and rookie DeAngelo Tyson got a look on the defensive line against the Texans.]
After looking at working in those players more during the bye, Harbaugh stood by some potential tweaks to the offense and defense, without divulging too much.
“There’s young guys in the offensive line we want to look at. There’s veteran guys that could help us doing different things,” Harbaugh said. “I just think football’s kind of evolving to where you’ve got to try to get as many players involved as you can.”
Well, at 5-2, you can kind of afford to roll some new guys into the rotation on OL and DL, especially if you're squaring off against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
But make no mistake--- the Browns are no pushover on the line of scrimmage. The Ravens know this, and they will primarily stick with their regulars. They're just asking the regulars to push themselves to a higher level. Harbaugh is using the concept of "auditioning" newer players to push the regulars.
Worst case scenario is Joe Flacco and OC Cam Cameron abandon the "hurry-up/sugar huddle" look of the Ravens offense in order to solidify blocking assignments and player positioning on the offense. This is not major surgery. Maybe it's a good thing.
Ravens fans have been far too critical of a team that is battling hard to come off three major injuries to their traditionally stellar defense (Lardarius Webb, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs---who is making a miraculous comeback---) and the loss to free agency of guys like OLB Jarrett Johnson, S Haruki Nakamura and S Tom Zbikowski, all of whom gave them that extra edge in edge containment and sub packages.
Sometimes fans have to be as patient as their coaching staff, and allow evolution of the learning curve among offensive, defensive and special teams to progress within the course of a long season.
You're building a team for January...you're not going to get the finished product in October.