By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens have one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. They just don’t lose at M&T Bank Stadium. Their road games over the past few years have been a different case entirely. So even though the Ravens are a better team right now than the Buffalo Bills, there are skeptics who question whether Baltimore can get the job done. The recent play of the Ravens offense hasn’t helped in silencing some of the team’s critics either.
Joe Flacco has played solid football through three weeks but has been less than spectacular. The Ravens lost key players in Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones to injury early in the season. Baltimore simply doesn’t have the weapons right now to be explosive on the offensive side of the ball. But Harbaugh is pleased with the way Flacco is playing right now given the circumstances.
“Joe’s got confidence in the pass protection right now,” stated Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “He feels very much protected back there. My feeling is that Joe has comfort back there to go through his read progression, which has helped him, because he’s run through the read progression plenty of times and found a crossing route.”
Crossing routes are about as good as it gets for Baltimore right now. Without a second legitimate threat on the outside, teams are doing a great job of taking the deep ball away from Flacco. That’s something that he’s counted on a great deal in the past. However, Flacco realizes that stats are not what’s most important as the season approaches its second quarter.
“We are a young team,” Flacco stated to the media on Sunday. “We have a lot of new guys, and we were thin at the running back position [against Houston]. We are going to have some growing pains throughout the first couple of weeks. But I’ve said all along the biggest thing will be whether we can win while we have those [growing pains]. The last two weeks we haven’t played great, but we’ve managed to win football games against two pretty good football teams. We have to continue to get better and come out next week flying around.”
The Ravens may continue their offensive struggles against Buffalo, but they’ll be fine as long as the Ravens defense continues to perform like they have. Terrell Suggs and the rest of this vaunted defense have been downright nasty following their Week 1 loss to Peyton Manning. The embarrassment from that performance continues to fuel the fire of this proud unit.
“You don’t ever want to have a performance like the one we had in Denver,” Daryl Smith told reporters after the Week 3 win against Houston. “So, each week, we’re going to concentrate on getting better. Each week, we want to concentrate on getting better, and that’s what we’ve been doing. And each week, we’ll grow together, we’ll gain more chemistry, we’ll learn to trust each other more, and I think we’ve done that the last two weeks, and we just have to continue to do that.”
To continue to improve, they’ll have to bring that stout defense on the road against a young Bills team. If they play the way they have over the last two weeks, the Ravens should be just fine.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.