Flock Mailbag: Ravens Better Suited For Today’s NFL?

Find the answers to your questions entering the Ravens’ regular season opener.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, September 10th, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

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Now that we’re just three days away from the Ravens’ season-opener, you readers are getting down the nitty-gritty questions.

Many are centered on who’s expected to play Monday so I’ll get those out of the way right now. Ed Reed will not play (PUP list). Jared Gaither, Terrence Cody and Donte’ Stallworth will also not play (already declared out). T.J. Houshmandzadeh will lace ‘em up.

Now let’s get to your other questions from Facebook/BaltimoreRavens and Twitter @1WinningDrive.

Martin Lawson : do u agree that the league is now a passing dominated game and that defenses are not as important as they once were? is this the reason flacco has been given lots of new weapons ????

Mink: I do think the NFL is becoming more pass-happy, in large part because rule changes have cracked down on the amount of contact defensive backs can make with receivers. Without getting too deep into the stats, I’ll just say there were more 4,000 yard passers last year than ever before.

With that said, I don’t think that makes defenses any less important. In fact, it makes pass coverage and pass rush even more critical.  You see teams investing a lot of time and money into figuring out ways to harass today’s NFL quarterbacks.

The Ravens, however, knew they had to upgrade their passing attack. Back on Feb. 3, General Manager Ozzie Newsome said, “We’ve got to get better, because if we ever get involved in a shootout, I want to win the shootout.”

Joe Flacco concurs. On Thursday he said, “You know, defenses… They’ll win you games, but I think to get over the hump, you need offense. They’ve won here in the past with a great defense. They won one Super Bowl, and we’re trying to win multiple. And you need a good offense. You need a good team in order to do that.”

@BaltimoreBoy : why do ppl think NFC east is toughest division? I would say AFC north but I’m biased

Mink: I was just debating this the other day. For me, the top divisions will be the AFC North, AFC East and NFC East. I may be a bit biased too, but I’m settling on the AFC North as the best.

You know my feelings on the Ravens. I believe the Bengals have improved from last year, when they swept through the division. The Steelers will always be tough on defense and at home and even the Browns showed signs of life at the end of last year.

The AFC East has two big-time contenders in New York and New England. The Dolphins, who added Brandon Marshall, will be better too. I’m not so high on the NFC East, personally. The Cowboys could be elite but have struggled to get over the hump. The Eagles and Giants are solid as usual, but don’t seem special. I’m not on the ‘Skins bandwagon (although my mother-in-law is … despite my employer).

Matt Harrington: Will Haruki Nakamura get much playing time considering Zbikowski and Landry are the starting safeties? He’s such a playmaker.

Mink: You’re not the only one who was impressed with Nakamura this summer. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Nakamura is one of his favorite players. Nakamura did some work at nickel during the Ravens’ preseason games and could perhaps see some more time at cornerback when teams go four-wide. Baltimore likes getting Nakamura on the field because, as you see, he’s a ball hawk.

Travis Smith Armwood: Considering we have Tj who’s -ya-momma lol will derek mason still play at a starting position and if so will anquan boldin or tj start on the other end?

Mink: More importantly, will we ever get our fill of “T.J. WhosYourMomma” jokes this year? Never! To answer your query, I think Mason’s still a starter and the depth chart concurs. People forget just how productive Mason has been with eight 1,000-yard seasons over the past nine years. Housh is a great addition, but he hasn’t had that kind of production and doesn’t have Mason’s familiarity with Flacco. Boldin is the top receiver. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw all three on the field a good deal.

Crystal Bevel : With respect to the Jets game only, how much playing time do you predict for Ed Dickson and TJ Housh? Do you expect David Reed to return punts?

Mink: Dickson, the rookie tight end, showed flashes of greatness in the preseason, but with a bounty of offensive weapons, including Todd Heap, my guess is Dickson breaks in slowly.

Houshmandzadeh is still picking up the offense, but the veteran could still make a decent impact. Baltimore’s got to prefer its chances against Jets rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson rather than attacking Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie. The punt returner is a question mark. Looks like either Tom Zbikowski or Chris Carr according to the depth chart.

Colleen Myers : WHAT is up with Ray’s commercial?? What does it mean???

Mink: Excellent question. Here’s my takeaway:

Ray Lewis + Oversized Raven > Saturn

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