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Is the Ravens' 2009 cup half-full or half-empty?


OK, raise your hand if you had Paul Kruger as the hero of Sunday night’s Ravens-Steelers game. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

In the abbreviated version of Prediction Friday, our free drink tab for the week goes to Sean Quinn, who nailed the final score, a 20-17 Ravens win. Sean didn’t have it going into overtime, but when you get the exact score, you also get some slack.

One of our regulars, Kevin In Iraq, had the Ravens winning with an OT field goal, 23-20, so a handful of drink chips his way. And our old buddy Jack was just one point off, predicting a 19-17 Ravens win. So a drink chip his way as well (seems like I could send my kid to college for all the drink tabs I give Jack).

I’ll be honest, I am not sure what to think about Sunday’s win.

On the one hand, the Ravens have beaten Pittsburgh once, are now 6-5 and are in a three-way tie for the final AFC playoff spot. And they are just one game behind the Broncos, who have lost a head-to-head against the Ravens.

So your purple-and-black squad basically controls its own destiny – and that’s all you can ask in the last five weeks of the season.

Now, let’s look at that other, not-so-pretty hand. The Ravens were pushed into overtime at home by a team that didn’t have its best defensive playmaker (Troy Polamalu) or its best offensive playmaker (Ben Roethlisberger).

I don’t want to take anything away from Dennis Dixon, but the kid was making his first NFL start and he threw for a TD, ran for one and wasn’t sacked once. There was a day when the Ravens’ D would have feasted on such a neophyte, and this year it took until overtime to take advantage of Dixon’s inexperience.

Of course, if you are a believer in positive thinking (and no one has ever accused me of that), you can be excited that Kruger and Mark Clayton made significant contributions and Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb both played well. And Ray Rice is becoming a force (maybe already is one) before our eyes. So maybe things are starting to click.

Honestly, I am not sure what to think about this team and its immediate future. Is it a playoff team? Will it play to a record (9-7, 8-8) that is indicative of the mediocrity it has shown much of the season? Are the Ravens good enough to beat bad or struggling teams but not good enough to win against the elite ones?

The latter is probably my take.

Now, it’s time for you to jump onto the lawn of optimism or pessimism. I want no fence riders in this place, unless, of course you are a big tipper.

Daily Think Special: Is the Ravens’ 2009 cup half-full or half-empty?

Comments

Class is half full! This is a good team with pro bowlers on both sides of the ball. Unfornunately, I cannot say the same for the coaching staff. They are the real weak link in this chain! The team is undisciplined as you can see with the costly penalties in every game.The QB, as good as he plays, has a difficult time picking up on where the blitz is coming and the defense has not made adjustments for the lack of pass rush. All on the coaches!

The 2009 Ravens' cup is half empty....now fill my empty glass up with a Dos Equis.

We lost too many close games thus far. Even IF we run the table or even lose only 1 more game, we might get squeezed out of the playoffs. The NFL is a funny game, just look at Tennessee right now. Don't mean to be sour but things would be a lot nicer if we were 7-4 or 8-3 right now.

As I said last week, I am an optimist but a pragmatic one.

I do not believe the Ravens are an elite team YET. It seems we have the key pieces - a great owner and GM. An impressive and potentially great QB and Head Coach.

I give the Ravens a 50% chance to make the play offs. I'd increase that to 80% if they beat the Packers.

Many say we would have lost with Troy P and Big Ben out there last night - that might be true. Yet, the game in Pittsburg - is a different game. It depends where the Ravens are then. If they have gone 4 - 0 by then and have momentum - they have a good shot - if by then they are out of the picture or hanging by a thread and Pittsburg is on a roll - a different story.

In the long run, this team needs to do a number of things. First, secure the corner back situation. Ladarius is the best one we have I think - he is a ball hawk... but we need more depth. Second, If they O Line has another year to season and we can get some solid back ups that would be great. Finally, I have to admit as well as the receiving corp has done this year - a big play maker for Joe would be the cream on the top. That's how far I think we are from being in the top 4 or 5 teams in the league.

Sincerely - Never More

I swore in the 3rd quarter that if they lost this game I would never watch another Raven's game. They are bad team who gets lucky. I say 8&8 or worse this year and every year until they get rid of Foxworth and Washington. Our secondary is elementary at best!

Some of the thought about last nights game has to take part in that it was a divisional game so all conventional wisdom has to be thrown out. It was a typical game between these 2 where they were just slugging it out with huge hits, small plays and then a big play sprinkled in here and there. The bottom line is this is the kind of win that can catapult you into the final month of season play and get you ready to go on a nice streak. However, I do not see them winning the next 5 games, more like 3-2 and do not think that will be enough to make it to the playoffs, but what other team is really stepping up to make that claim. Not so sure that their play is mediocre or anemic but is it that the parity of the NFL is that each team has just as good of a chance to win no matter what their record is. There is evidence of this, Skins and Boys last week 7-6, Raiders over the Eagles 13-9, did anyone really think that Denver was going to beat the Giants like they did? So while it is not easy to really make a firm stand on either side of the fence I believe that there is still too much football left to really say if they will be there or not, so instead encourage you to buckle your belts as this could be a really fun ride.

Einstein would tell you that even when the cup is half full it's still half empty. And this one is half full by a paltry ounce. If they beat Green Bay then that they should make it. Ravens are a shade above mediocre on offense, defense, special teams and kicking. They only excel in their punting game. Ray Rice is fun to watch. It's too early to say, but feel like Paul Kruger's pick could have been better utilized. You summed it up nicely: Ravens are good enough to beat bad or struggling teams but not good enough to win against the elite ones.

Dixon is in the NFL because he can play. He was in the Heisman runnning before he tore his ACL two years ago. The guy is a freak athlete, give the Ravens credit. They won a tough divisional game. The Steelers had a great game plan and they shortened the game.

The true playoff decider will be next week in GB. If the Ravens win I'm guessing they're going to the playoffs, if not then no.

this team is such a tease this year. At times, we look pathetic, but in reality, had we stopped Cincy on that final drive in the first game, made the FG in Minn, we'd be 8-3 and everyone's favorite in the AFC after the Colts. In reality, had Clayton held on to that pass in NE and we somehow scored just one TD against the Colts, we'd be in a scary good position. I think we're better than our record but I don't think the players think or know this right now.

Lardarius Web almost ended that game with an INT and TD run. He did a nice job and seems to contribute everywhere on the field. Chris Carr turned it up a notch too. What's the sense of having a decent punt return if we're always going to get called for blocking in the back or holding? I for one am tired of it. Our O went back and did some things we did last year. I swear the coaches listened in to the fan reaction this past week.

I'm with you Connally, half empty. My big concern was the lack of speed R. Lewis showed when the rookie QB burned by him-but he's hurt too. It's going to be a tough fight with the Steeler even with Rothlisburger. And I don't really care how banged up the Steelers are or who they are with out. We are without Suggs and we have lost plenty of quality defensive and offensive player beginning with the off season and with injuries since preseason and on.

I am a believer in positive thinking, at least this year. Even with those guys out for the Steelers, I did not think this was going to be a blowout win. This was a huge win that saved our playoff hopes for at least another week.

I think this team can finish with a 10-6 record and just hope for the best for a playoff berth. The defense may not be playing up to past standards but they've played a lot better in the last few weeks. I thought the Colts game was going to be a disastrous blowout and the Ravens came within two points and held that offense to 17 points!! They've got a tough game this Monday against a good Green Bay team but I like their chances. I know we could look at it on paper and say disaster, but I said that about the Colts and it didn't happen, despite them losing. I think that win was last night gave em momentum and they'll ride that in the MNF game.

Half Full... There just isn't that winning instinct there... When your team is on the verge of putting it alway, the good teams do just that... They get that TD... They make that FG... they stop on defense... They score on turnovers… They play the full 60 minutes... They Finish it & they put it a way early... The Ravens have consistently shown a lack of that quality. The Ravens are one of the elite teams for sure in the NFL. They had every game against the elite teams won… but found a way to lose them. I don’t know how you correct that… Does a next season bring that quality out? Does a new coach somewhere spark that change that turns it around? Or a win, a tough one, like the Steelers win, finally the magic that sparks a streak run to the playoff’s?

It's funny how a young rookie named Joe Flacco took Pittsburg, the eventual Superbowl camps with the #1 defense, to overtime in his first away game of his career last year. Had it not been a dumb penalty by Jarret Johnson, he may have pulled that game out. Anyone who thought Pittsburg was going to just roll over this year with a second year guy at QB obviously doesn't know much about the Balt/Pitts rivalry. This contest brings out the best in everybody. It’s no cake walk even if a team has a QB like Kyle Boller, who is half the QB as Dixon. The Ravens ran the ball on the best run defense. The corners played good, not just this game, but also against Payton Manning. I'm not buying the hype about how great the Ravens are, but the only team that really beat us this year is the Bengals. Remember the elite Vikings. We were a Cundiff field goal away from winning that game, IN THEIR HOUSE. Remember the elite Patriots. We were one "Tom Brady" give-me call, and a second "Tom Brady" give-call for insurance, away from winning that game, IN THEIR HOUSE. To run 135 yards on the Steelers defense, even without Polamalu is nothing to sneeze at. As I told my friends before the season started, I’m not sure if we are that good or if the rest of the league is that bad. I like where we are after 11 games, 6 and 5, and very easily could have been 8 and 3. If the Patriots, Bengals and Colts are elite football teams then I’m an elite (Pulitzer Prize to be) writer. GO Ravens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lewis was on the other side of the field when Dixon ran for the touchdown. I certainly hope Dixon is faster anyway. That TD had nothing to do with Rays speed. That should not be a concern GHTpdx. I think preparing for a QB with no professional tape is hard to do. A win is a win. Lets move on!

Half Full!

Flacco is playing hurt. Period. Its bad and he still did not throw the INT. Rice is Emmitt Smith part 2. He is that good.

Foxworth is a major liability. He is so bad he flies like a butterfly and stings like a flea. He trips over his feet more than Boller and falls down on the draft of the reciever running by him.

A bright point: I was sure that the Ravens were going to committ a game killing penalty on the 3rd down where Dixon ran for a score. I said "this is where we rough the passer, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct.. Instead they got outplayed by a rookie. Sad, but progress. At least they did not have a penalty.

Is it me or does Clayton look for ways to blow games?

His fumble could have been a killer.
You know Steve Shankitus would have missed that OT kick....

We survived Clayton, penalties, and won a game with Cundiff. Cundiff alone is big excitement.


the glass is half full...

at times the ravens play
with some kind of cohesion,
especially when ray rice
is involved...

the penalties have killed them
and cost them at least one game
this year at home against the
bengals....

hard to see the ravens doing
anything better than 9-7...
that sounds about right...

a win against chicago, detroit
at home.... possibly the
raiders the last game if
they don't get jet lag....

a loss to green bay and
pittsburgh in the rematch...

Its starting to look like as long as Harbaugh is coach the glass will be half empty.

We're so banged up yet in garbage time V. the Browns all the A-team was in! What the hell is that?!?!

Not to mention the terrible play calling in the red zone v. Indy and the lack of discipline.

Rays speed?...please. Has anyone seen Dixons college reel...a beast, like Randall Cunningham born again. SIMIBONELESS tells it clearest, we have played the best teams in the league in 09, and competed w all of them. Our record is not indicative of the talent that this team bares. Anyone who says diff slearly doesnt know the "any given sunday" motto. But...Marco 01 is correct too in saying that we need to find ways to come out on top in all those little battles, like controlling our aggression and not making poor mental mistakes and penalties, and winning those late game 2nd wind battles that Championship teams do. Whether the Ravens will do that from here...we will see. But thats ALL THEY NEED RIGHT NOW. its not something like talent, or depth. And I believe that it is games like last night that "could" be that catalyst to take this team into January because that when the second season STARTS...GO RAVENS. The answer to all this will come next week on MNF....God I Love this GAME!!!

Dan, thanks for the drink! Your kid will appreciate college all the more for having to work on their own to pay for it.

It's been frustrating the way the losses have come, but when you look back at it there are no "bad" losses in terms of losing to inferior teams. The five losses have been twice to the top team in the division, plus once each to the top team in three other divisions. So I'll take half full, but it sure would be nice if it were three quarters by this point. Still no margin for error. The game next Monday will be a big test.

Half-empty, I'm afraid to say.

They have enough to beat the so-so teams, but not enough to dance with the big boys.

Worst is the defensive secondary. It's pretty much been shown that a good quarterback can pick them apart.

Special teams commits too many sstupid penalties. Was there eeven one kick return last night that wasn't called back by a holding call- one that didn't even make a difference in the play, much less?

The topper to it all is Flacco's ankle. Clearly he hasn't been the same since he hurt it, and thus the offense hhasn't been able to cover for the defense's miscues (there was a time I thought I would nnever say anything like that- the opposite, perhaps.)

Dan,every time I raise this mug I can't tell if the team is half gone or I just poured half full.Anyway,I wish the Ravens,as a team(coaches incl.),would develop a winning instinct that translates to their play at critical times on the field; like no spec. teams penalties,no linemen standing around after attempting one block only,no cbs playing the field instead of the ball,etc,do you get my point?A little nasty does'nt hurt to win big NFL games,either.OK, the team is at a crossroads,definately.Even Flacco's play has to make a difference to reach the playoffs this year.I think you should flip a coin to help me out here.

Half-empty, I'm afraid to say.

They have enough to beat the so-so teams, but not enough to dance with the big boys.

Worst is the defensive secondary. It's pretty much been shown that a good quarterback can pick them apart.

Special teams commits too many sstupid penalties. Was there eeven one kick return last night that wasn't called back by a holding call- one that didn't even make a difference in the play, much less?

The topper to it all is Flacco's ankle. Clearly he hasn't been the same since he hurt it, and thus the offense hhasn't been able to cover for the defense's miscues (there was a time I thought I would nnever say anything like that- the opposite, perhaps.)

I was never excited about resigning Ray Lewis, age happens overnight in the NFL and he is 34 and can't make the tackles or control the game as he did in the past and wears down as the season wears on as he has done the past 2 or 3 seasons, not surprising and not taking anything away from a Hall of Fame career and possibly the greatest missle line backer of this generation and one of the top 5 of all time. The question is how much does he preclude players from developing?

When will we receive a punt without a holding or block in the back? A big sign of lack of discipline and poor coaching. How much of this is left over from Billick or is it a new infestation?

I am tired hearing if Rothlisberger was there we would have been lit up. Did he light up KC? We do have a better D. The Steelers have the number one D so it was not surprising that it would be a close game. And Dixon was one hell of a running QB in college so that doesn't surprise me.

We are a team in transition and need some more D and O players to move to the elite level. There are many pieces in place, QB, running backs, young CB, some up and coming linebackers, and a young O line. This is not a one piece away from the big show but a couple of pieces from becoming a constant upper 10+ wins per season. Getting close. This year we need luck.

Its half full of Metamucil.....Busciotti needs to dump that metamucil out and fill that glass with gatorade......Paul Kruger over Seam Smith counterproductive.....Micheal Oher over Kenny Brit....arguable but questionable....especially when theres a dire need at a pivitol position that could accelerate or hinder the team....fill needs complete puzzle stay competitve......grab the best available player you end up with alot of good players on a mediocre team.


Eleven games into a 16 game season (NFL) is percentage wise like 110 games into a 162 game season (MLB). Ravens are 6-5. If the Orioles were 60-50 next year, the town would be turning cartwheels. Of course the glass is half-full.

I would say the Ravens' glass is half empty only because they have a much tougher schedule in their last five games than does the Steelers. And we still have to beat them at their house. Green Bay is an important statement game, but they all are at this point in the season. How the heck did the Steelers, the Super Bowl champions, get such a soft schedule down the stretch. Please let someone inside the NFL tell me that.

The Ravens are not an elite team at this point. They are hanging by their fingernails and this Monday will be a barometer.

I'd have to say our glass is half empty. Only because of where we were last year and where we are this year.

Last year we dominated on both sides of the ball (even with a vanilla offense for our rookie QB). That dominating team cruised easily into the AFC Championship.

This years team can't hold a candle to last years team. And unfortunately there we don't have a GM/owner to make the hard firings to improve the team. Our coaching staff is rotten.

Our endless penalties and inconsistent play are proof of poor coaching.

This was not supposed to be a rebuilding year. This was supposed to be a Super Bowl year.

What's up with bob m?

Does he like to write haikus?

Don't hit "Enter" key.

I'd love to see both Wildcard teams come from the AFC North. We need help to get the 2nd Wildcard spot, The Bungles have the division fairly secure and I think the Steelers hold a Wildcard spot due to their remaining schedule.

Another AFC North duel int the AFC Championship game would be awesome.

I have to be an optimist on the team's chances but their record so far against playoff teams is 2-5, which doesn't bode well.

Have to address the weaknesses (cornerbacks, a tall, physical receiver and some coaching changes), but the team isn't bad at all. I just want them to get it together before Ray retires, because I worry about what the team would look like without him. They would have to be a changed team in the playoffs to do some damage, but it's possible.

Keep in mind they only lost their five games by a combined 23 points, with most coming on the 10 point "blowout" at Cincy and the six point loss to NE that should've been a win, frankly. The other games were winnable, we just have to win them. But they have the tools, they just have to decide to win instead of playing up or down to their opponent and then folding.

When Paul KRUGER, our hero of the evening, pulled in that interception it felt half-full. Nice feeling, that. They need to try Kruger out at tight end. Man, did he move after picking that off. Memories of Baltimore Colts great Mike Curtis...
Using those hands, legs, and athleticism on offense might be a neat experiment. The swagger was back Sunday night in Overtime.
Can they take that momentum to the next level?
Will we see some trickery and razzle-dazzle?
More airing it out downfield, as with Clayton's handiwork?

Hey Dan, wait a minute. I guessed the Ravens winning 20-16 and even guessed that Mason would have a TD catch along with McGahee rushing for a TD. It is in your blog for that day. Where are my free drink chips?

Barkeep's Reply: Sorry Steve, You're free all week. Drink up.

Half Empty.
Our corners play 10-12 yards off the line of scrimmage and still can't cover a 12 yard out of hook, or keep a receiver in front of them. GB's receivers are about to slice and dice them to bits. We'll stop the GB run, but that's no big feat. We may even keep them from the endzone and scratch out a win but regardless, we are not upper echelon material. No corners, no receivers that can get open consistently other than Mason, and he can't out run a guy even when he puts moves on them. Love Heap's toughness, but he has slowed down cosiderably, LJ Smith is a waste of space, McGahee and Le'Ron don't get enough carries to impact w Ray Rice being sooo nice, the head coach feels compelled to have him in everyplay but he can't wear down opposing teams alone. There in lies the rub and why the Offense has struggled after getting out the gate quick in the 1st 4 games. The center of the O-line has not gotten off the ball either w great impetus. Matt Birk came overrated or just simply is slowing down after 13 yrs of malling. They certainly as a group are not dominant. Chester is way too light in the pants. Grubbs seems to take the wrong plays off, without the amazing, almost Zues-ian play of the rookie Oher and 2d yr Behemoth Gaither, they would consistently get graded C or worse. Essentially all we have is a GREAT d-line and decent LB core, LOVE Ya Ray, but you can't cover anyone, not even the slowest TE's in the league, ya made the Colts 2nd TE Canti bring back memories John Mackey! You are still 110% effort so one can't complain, but be real we can be. The glass is most def, half full.

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