havent read thru the whole thread,but do u guys think that the ravens were hiding Harewood thru the preseason as to not tip their hand?
I think the thing that helped the OL out the most last night was that Flacco looked way more decisive going through his progressions last night then he did last year. Flacco got rid of the ball faster, maybe because he had more guys open then he had last year. The routes that the Ravens ran seemed a lot more dynamic then last year. If Flacco continues to get rid of the ball as quickly as he did last night, that will go a long way towards hiding any deficiencies in the OL.
I was admittedly in panic mode about the o-line. Happy to be wrong, at least week 1.
Re: Birk - regardless of the fact he was pushed back a few times what we can't see is how much his leadership helped the new o-linemen. I suspect it was and will be a significant contributing factor to the play of the youngsters. In numeric terms, even if Birk was physically playing 20% weaker than a better center, his leadership may very well have added +20% to the play of the other 4 alongside him, which nets a huge benefit overall. He may be playing his last year in the NFL but as a teacher to the students I hope he plays it out until the end.
The second sack was stupid. Rice picked up the blitzing DB, but Oher blocked a guy that stunted inside to Harewood and Birk, letting the LB come through untouched. Looked eerily similar to the infamous Polamalu sack.
Not even close to the Polamalu blitz.
You're right, Rice picked up the LB, Howard who was coming off the edge, it just happened that he got pushed into the path of Pacman who was blitzing in from the same side. Rice was outnumbered, Oher stuck with Johnson who stunted inside leaving Birk watching Atkins (who didn't rush), and Harewood having time to go order takeout.
Although our line was physically dominant, there were several miscommunications of this sort last night. It will improve in time.
I think the coaches graded the top linemen from the preseason and started accordingly. Especially considering the up tempo offense.
Also Birk isn't a weak spot, he was facing a pretty good interior D line of the Bengals and will not have those problems every week. Gino should be ready next year after a year in the filmroom and weight room.