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Blogger Q&A: Ravens @ Panthers

We are back after a short hiatus for another edition of Blogger Q&A. This week I shared questions and answers with Bruce over at Baltimore Beatdown. Be sure to check his site tomorrow for my answers to his questions.

With that introduction behind us here we go:

Question 1: Give me an update on Joe Flacco? What has been his strengths and weaknesses this season?

Bruce: Joe is on pace to have his best season in his three year career and for the first time he has all the weapons he needs to succeed. He has a rocket arm and stands tall in the pocket and can make every throw with confidence. His lack of mobility and throwing on the run hampers him at times and his reliance all too much on checking down too early to Ray Rice during his reads instead of going thru his other options is relatively predictable.

That's a nice check down option I'm sure any QB in the league would love to have.

Question 2. The Baltimore offense is currently ranked 21st in the NFL in points per game at 21.8, including 11th in rushing at 118 yds per game. I looks like a drop off for Ray Rice and the rushing game. What would you attribute the drop off too?

Bruce: I attribute the drop off to two things. First of all the rising success of the passing game is taking away from the focus of previously being a "run-first" offense. In addition, the run-blocking is just not what it once was although it is still decent and Rice can burn you if you don't stop him at the line as once he gets into open space he is a terror to bring down or catch up to.

Hmmm...if only the Panthers had the same reasons for our drop off in run production.

Question 3: Though the defense is still a respectable 8th against the run and 13th against the pass, it is still not we've come to expect from the Ravens defense. What's the key to scoring on this Ravens 2010 defense?

Bruce: Short to intermediate range passes against a secondary that plays off the line in trying to prevent the big play. Quick WR screens to go one-on-one with poor tackling corners and of course, stay away from Ed Reed's side of the field!

I'm sure staying away from Reed is much harder than it sounds. The Panthers love the smoke play to Smitty so we should expect a few of those.

Question 4: Tell me a little about two players, one on offense and one on defense, that may not be big names yet but we should keep an eye on Sunday.Why?

Bruce: Rookie defensive tackle Terrence "Mount" Cody got his first significant amount of paying time this past week and made a huge impact, both in size and performance. At 6'3" and well over 350 pounds, he is a plug in the middle of the line and commands double teams to free up the rest of the team, especially Ray Lewis to make the plays. Offensively, it is a veteran team but the one guy that Ravens fans are clamoring for is rookie TE Ed Dickson, who is big enough to take on the front seven in blocking but way to fast for linebackers to cover and can get some serious "YAC" if he gets the ball across the middle on the run.

A 3 down TE, what a concept! Boy the Ravens love the big fat guys in the middle. They already had Ngota and now have added the even bigger Cody.

Question 5: You're tied atop the AFC North with the Steelers. Finish the sentence: The Ravens will win the AFC North division over the Steelers because ______?

Who, the Steelers? Oh, okay. ...because...the Ravens are a more complete team and have already beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh (albeit w/o Big Ben) and will be able to win at home to sweep the season series.

So they think Big Ben won't make a difference in their return engagement in Baltimore? Should be a good game.