Good day, Who Dats and the EOSB legion.
It’s time again for that one thing I know you all can’t wait for each week. In fact, you probably wake up early on Friday morning’s because you know it’s coming.
View from the Other Side is back and this week, we welcome Jamison Hensley, who has covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun since 2000, the Ravens' Super Bowl season. His blogs can be found at http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/blog/. You can also follow him at twitter.com/jamisonhensley
WWLTV: Twice in the past two weeks the Ravens gave up leads in the fourth quarter. How much of an aberration is this or have you noticed the Baltimore defense starting to wear down?
Hensley: Not being able to finish teams off is the reason why the Ravens will fall short of a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Ravens have actually blown eight leads in the fourth quarter, including three in the final 30 seconds of regulation. Everyone has played a part in it.
The offense struggles on third downs and can’t extend drives. The defense gets exhausted being on the field too long. And the coaches make questionable play calls toward the end of games. The Ravens have to figure out how to get a “killer instinct.”
WWLTV: The Saints offense appears to be in a good rhythm these days and Drew Brees does well against the blitz. Do you expect the Ravens to blitz heavily or will they rely on coverage?
Hensley: The Ravens would love to blitz more, but they’re hampered by their personnel. The defense doesn’t have extremely fast cornerbacks, and the coaches don’t want to leave them in one-on-one coverage. That’s why the Ravens rely on their four-man front to generate pressure for most of the game. It’s not the best game plan, but it’s the only one the Ravens have confidence in.
WWLTV: Is this a must-win for Baltimore and if not, why?
Hensley: Definitely not a must-win. The Ravens can lose to New Orleans and still be able to clinch a playoff spot by winning their last two games (at Cleveland and home against Cincinnati). But this game is important because the Ravens could make a statement against the Saints. With an underachieving offense and a struggling defense, the Ravens aren’t looking like a Super Bowl contender. A win over the defending Super Bowl champions could move them in the right direction.
WWLTV: How much better is Joe Flacco in his third season than from his first two?
Hensely: It probably hasn’t been the dramatic jump that some people expected with Flacco. But there’s no question that Flacco has improved. He’s not forcing passes, which is why his interception total has decreased. He has looked more confident late in games, leading the Ravens back late at Pittsburgh and at Atlanta (which ended in a loss). Flacco still has some areas that needs improvement. He holds onto the ball too long. He doesn’t use the middle of the field as much as he should. But Flacco has proven that he’s on the right path.
WWLTV: What does Ray Rice do that makes him hard for defenses to handle?
Hensley: Rice is really dangerous when he’s out in space. Whether he’s taking a pitch outside or catching a pass in the wide open part of the field, Rice is extremely difficult for tacklers to bring down. He’s makes people miss because of his great change in direction. He is also strong for his size and breaks more tackles than many think. Rice can break a big play anytime he has the ball in his hands.