The Ravens picked up their most impressive win of the season on Thanksgiving as they defeated the (9-2) San Francisco 49ers 16-6 in dominating fashion. The Ravens constantly got pressure on Alex Smith. The Ravens would finish the game with 9 sacks. That’s tied for the franchise record. The Ravens did this predominantly with a 4 man rush. And maybe even more impressive, they did it without Ray Lewis.
This team is dangerous. Every week, this team seems to improve from the previous game. That has a lot to do with the players. Ozzie Newsome has done a great job of bringing in guys that love the game. They want to be great. And they know what they have to do to be great. And if that wasn’t enough, the Ravens field perhaps the greatest coaching staff in the NFL. This staff reminds me a lot of the staff that won the Super Bowl with the Patriots back in 2007. Romeo Crenel and Charlie Weis didn’t get a lot of credit at the time, but they turned out to be a huge factor in the Pats championship chase that year.
The same can be said for this staff. Chuck Pagano has totally revitalized a defense that took a step back last year. His knack for knowing when to blitz and when to drop coverage has really been the difference this year. It’ll be interesting to see how long he remains with the team before he’s offered a head coaching position.
The offense is starting to come together as well, and it couldn’t have come any sooner for the coach on the hottest of hot seats. Cam Cameron has been scrutinized for two seasons now for his predictable and head scratching play calls. Most of the scrutiny is warranted. But Cam seems to have realized that a balanced offensive attack is way more effective than a pass happy one. He may have gotten a little help from John Harbaugh, who in my opinion doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what he has done in Baltimore. Harbaugh took a group of individuals and made them a team. He rid the team of the Chris McAlisters and Houshmandzadehs of the organization. Harbaugh then began to build a unit that lived by the overused phrase, “there is no I in team.”
At the end of the day, the players will ultimately decide how far this team goes this year. The Ravens have made it clear they want to hoist the Lombardi trophy. Harbaugh and company will make sure the players are in position to do just that.