Editor’s Note: We’re very lucky here at Black&Teal to be part of Fansided, a wide-reaching network of blogs for every NFL team (as well as a huge selection of NBA, NHL, MLB, and other blogs as well). We’d be dumb not to take advantage of these resources, so welcome to our new feature: Enemy Intel. Each week, we’ll be checking in with the staff from the Fansided blog representing the Jaguars’ opponent for that the week.
This week, we’ll be talking with Riley Babcock, editor and lead blogger for Ebony Bird, Fansided’s Baltimore Ravens Blog. A huge thanks to Riley for taking the time to update us on what’s going on in the Baltimore as we head into a intense Monday Night Football matchup with perennially fearsome Ravens. Make the jump to see our Q&A about the Dirty Birds with Riley…
Andrew Hofheimer: What do you guys think of Joe Flacco? After his rookie year, has he continued to progress at the rate Ravens fan and media thought he would? Is he undoubtedly the future in Baltimore?
Riley Babcock: I still haven’t made up my mind on Joe Flacco. He’ll blow me away one week and then look like a high school quarterback the next. His consistancy is the biggest issue but the most important thing is that he’s winning. I was expecting him to take the next step last year but he disappointed me. I’ve noticed a vast improvement this year and I think he’s on the right track. He wont completly take over games like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but I would take him over a lot of the other QBs in the league. He’s definitely the future in Baltimore. He will probably never reach “elite quarterback” status but if the Ravens can take Trent Dilfer to a Super Bowl, I think their chances of taking Joe there are pretty good.
RB: It’s got to be the man in the middle. Ray Lewis has been there since the start and he is still making plays. He’s reaching the end of his career and it will be a sad day in Baltimore when #52 is no longer on the field. When he does finally hang up the cleats, I don’t think the Ravens defense will collapse though. Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs have been there for awhile and I believe they will continue ushering in new players and leaders to keep the title of great defense in Baltimore.
AH: You recently wrote a brief article on Ebony Bird that called Dawan Landry an “unsung hero” in Baltimore. What earned him that title in Baltimore and why did Ozzie Newsome let him go?
RB: I always liked Dawan Landry and was said to see him leave. As we’ve heard thousand of times before, football’s a business. When it came down to it, Landry wasn’t the highest priority.Dawan was a rock solid starter for the Ravens at strong safety for a number of years. He didn’t wow anyone with spectacular plays but contributed a whole lot to team. I haven’t gotten a chance to see him play that much with Jacksonville so I’m excited to see him play against his former team. I’ll be cheering for him.
RB: The Ravens’ secondary has been targeted for years but it seems that the tides have finally turned. Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams have stepped up and have been huge this year. It’s still the weak link due to injury but the Ravens are a lot better off than other teams. First round draft pick CB Jimmy Smith has been injured ever since the opening kickoff in week one. He’s expected to return this week which will add some depth to a position that has been ravished by injuries.
RB: Ray Rice is undoubtably the best player on offense for the Ravens. If he’s on, so is the offense. But they have a lot more weapons then just Rice. Lee Evans was brought in to be the deep threat. He hasn’t played since week one because of a nagging ankle injury which thrusted second round pick Torrey Smith into the starting lineup. If you didn’t catch the Rams game, Smith put up huge numbers catching three touchdowns in the first quarter. He’s proven that he can be a deep threat and has caught a few bombs by Joe Flacco since then. Anquan Boldin is a man amongst boys on the field. He’s hard to match up against and is a tough possession receiver that will get YAC. The young tight end Ed Dickson has shown a lot of promise thus far. While he still needs to work on blocking, he’s a natural athlete that can make some truly extraordinary catches for a tight end. The Ravens have a lot of offensive weapons which make them hard to stop. Ray Rice is the obvious guy that you want to stop but pressuring the quarterback is the best way to knock the Ravens offense off the track.
AH: What are your predictions for the game and the rest of the Ravens’ season?
RB: As much as I’d like for it to be a interesting game, I need to be realistic. A rookie quarterback with little experience going against a top 3 defense usually doesn’t end well. I think MJD will make some plays here and there but the Ravens are a few steps ahead of the Jags. The Ravens can do some great things this year and I don’t doubt that they will. I’d like to say that the Ravens will make the playoffs and from there, we’ll see. I live by the any given Sunday mentality so I don’t want to get to ahead myself.