Jerry Coleman: Ravens Mean Business
The Ravens released Safety Michael Huff and Defensive Tackle Marcus Spears this week, and in the process sent a subtle message to the locker room. Both were here to help fill voids but have since been replaced by rookies Matt Elam and Brandon Williams. Huff, who signed in a 6 million dollar deal with the team back in March, was benched earlier this season. With Terrance Cody coming back from a knee injury and the progress of Williams, is was certain that Spears might lose playing time, instead he lost his roster spot.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said, “We always try to have the strongest roster we possibly can to be as good a team as we possibly can be on Sunday. We feel like these moves move us in that direction. We feel like these are necessary moves that we need to make to be the best team we can be [in] all three phases. Any message beyond that is just … I think guys already understand those things.”
The 3-4 Ravens are at a crossroads, they have lost three of their last four games by a total of eight points, which places them 2 games behind the Bengals. Sunday in Cleveland will not be an easy task as the Browns have the seventh-ranked defense, which includes the sixth-best pass defense. Among their leaders is linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, safety T.J. Ward and rookie Barkevious Mingo; these players will present a challenge for the Ravens much maligned offensive line . Quarterback Joe Flacco appears ready to accept that challenge, after all he’s 5-0 in Cleveland. “It’s always a really good game. We haven’t won 11 straight by accident, and we haven’t planned on winning 11 straight. We’ve taken them one game at a time, and it just so happened that it’s worked out this way.”
Coming off the bye the Ravens are just 1-3 away from Baltimore. However, the team has had plenty of success against the Browns and running back Ray Rice has had some outstanding performances in these games. In fact, his 958-rushing yards versus Cleveland are the most he’s had against one team during his NFL career. “If you want a chance to play in January, you’ve got to take care of your business in November and December,” Rice said. “And it just so happens the first of the month is coming up, and we start our new chapter right now.”
It’s go time, indeed.