Posts Tagged 'Le’Ron McClain'

Week 1 Preview: Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets

January 16, 2010…that was the last time the Ravens played a game that mattered. Seems like a long time ago huh? Well the wait is over, September 13th has finally arrived, and what a game we have tonight!

The Jets and Ravens are very similar teams. They both have the young quarterbacks with plenty of experienced weapons on offense. Defensively, both squads play good ol’ “smash mouth football”.

There has been quite a bit of talking leading up to this game, and it’s fun, but I’m not gonna address the jabber. I want to look at the types of games both teams need to play to come away with a win tonight.

First off, believe the hype, Darrelle Revis is the real deal. He is as good as advertised and has to ability to take a whole side of a field away from the opposition. That opens up options for the New York defense to blitz, especially with their safeties. And everyone knows Rex Ryan loves to blitz. He will be sending extra guys at Joe Flacco early and often to try to fluster the third year signal caller. On the other side of the field will be Antonio Cromartie, who is also a very skilled corner, not as talented as Revis. However he does have lightning fast speed. If he comes up with an interception, he is likely to take it to the house.

That being said, Revis can only cover one guy at a time, tonight that guy will be Anquan Boldin. Baltimore has plenty of other options to go to other than Boldin when airing it out. Flacco will have to spread the ball around to targets Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ray Rice in the flat.

Speaking of Rice, I believe he is more dangerous on those flare passes and toss plays tonight. Do not expect much from him rushing up the middle. The Jets have a beast in Kris Jenkins at nose tackle. He can take up so much space and will be a challenge for center Matt Birk on first and second downs. Against a defense as physical and brutal as New York’s, getting backs Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain at least half a dozen carries each is crucial. Rice isn’t built to take such a pounding for four quarters.

On to the Jets and their offense. Mark Sanchez enjoyed a solid rookie campaign and is looking to continue his growth as an NFL quarterback. He has plenty of viable options at his disposal to help him win not only tonight but throughout 2010. The addition of future Hall of Famer Ladainian Tomlinson as well as 15-year veteran Tony Richardson adds depth, experience, and stability to a young corps of backs in Shonn Greene and John Conner. Receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are solid options who have great hands as well as breakaway speed. However, Holmes is out for tonight’s game. He is missing the first four games of the season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy this past offseason. Jerricho Cotchery will have to step up and fill in his place tonight. Tight end Dustin Keller averaged just over 11½ yards per catch last year but only hauled in two TD’s. I like him to have a big 2010, watch out for him across the middle.

This leads to the one glaring weakness of the Ravens, their secondary. With Ed Reed on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season, and Dominique Foxworth gone for the year, the Ravens are vulnerable and everyone knows it. Baltimore will have to work with Fabian Washington, Josh Wilson, and Chris Carr at corner. Lardarius Webb is listed as a game time decision, however I expect him to suit up and get plenty up snaps. Tom Zbikowski fills in for Reed at free safety, while Dawan Landry provides the most experience and talent of the group at strong safety.

There are lots of big names at the skill positions for both teams, and they very well could be the difference in the outcome of the game. But I believe it will all come down to who can dominate in the trenches, specifically when New York is on offense. I already mentioned earlier that Kris Jenkins will cause disruption in the middle of the Ravens line, but more importantly is if the Jets big men can hold up against a tough Baltimore front seven. If they can, it gives Sanchez the necessary time to pick apart the corners and safeties. A poor effort up front will lead to sacks, hurries, and in turn, poor decisions by the second year QB.

I believe nose tackle Haloti Ngata is a bit better than Jenkins due to his speed and athleticism. Remember last year in the preseason (against the Jets) when Ngata droped back into coverage like a linebacker and picked off Sanchez and took it to the house? Center Nick Mangold, fresh off signing an 8-year, $57.4 million contract, will have the tall task of blocking Ngata all game. And a great matchup I’m excited to watch will be left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson against a leaner and quicker Terrell Suggs.

So many storylines and matchups to digest in this one. Both teams have “super” aspirations if you know what I mean. Lots of questions will have been answered by the conclusion of this evening’s battle. Time for the prediction: I say the Ravens get off to a slower than expected start, and possibly fall behind. But the offense has too many weapons and will unleash its firepower in the 2nd half. The defense will bend but not break, and limit the Jets to field goals when backed aginst the wall. BALTIMORE 27 – NEW YORK 16

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NFL Week 6 Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (64,121) · Minneapolis, MN

TV: CBS

Announcers: Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Dan Dierdorf (color)

Fast Facts:

– The Ravens travel to Minnesota for the first time in their regular season history. The Vikings are the last NFL team Baltimore has yet to play on the road.

– QB Joe Flacco has thrown at least a TD pass in 8 consecutive road games.

-Since 2006, the Vikings have allowed a league best 73.2 rushing yards per game. The Ravens rank 2nd during that same span, giving up just 78.6 yards per game.

– The Vikings have given up just 4 turnovers on the season, the 2nd-lowest in the NFL.

Ravens Offense vs. Vikings Defense: The Ravens offense has sputtered in the past two games. After getting off to an explosive start, there has been a lack of balance between running and passing plays. Against the Bengals last week, they had a great deal of trouble developing any kind of rhythm, going 3-11 on 3rd downs. Joe Flacco and company need to get on the board early in this contest to have a chance to win. Establishing the run, or at least attempting to, will be crucial. Minnesota’s run defense consistently ranks among the league’s best. And at 311 and 317 pounds respectively, Kevin and Pat Williams are big reasons why (pardon the pun). Pat is a savvy 13 year veteran who can singlehandedly shut down an opponent’s running game. Former University of Maryland standout E.J. Henderson patrols the middle of the field at middle linebacker and has a tremendous nose for the ball. If the Ravens are going to gain significant chunks of yardage this Sunday, they are going to have to do it by going to the outside with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Le’Ron McClain had zero rushing attempts in week 4 and only two last week. I’m looking for him to get more involved in the ground game this week. Receiver Derrick Mason was shut out a week ago for just the second time in 69 games as a Raven. Look for him to bounce back in a big way. Flacco is going to have to be quick in getting rid of the football because defensive end Jared Allen is simply a beast. Left tackle Jared Gaither is scheduled to return from his neck injury and play this week. Keep an eye on how he handles Allen. Two weeks ago against the Packers, Allen registered 4.5 sacks, a career high.  He also forced a fumble, and recovered it.  And he sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the end zone in the second half for a safety.

Vikings Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Adrian Peterson is widely regarded as the best back in the league today; some even say he has the potential to be one of the best of all time. He is fast, agile, powerful, and smart. He is the heartbeat of the Minnesota offense and limiting his production is priority number one for the Ravens defense. Don’t forget about former Raven Chester Taylor. He is averaging a little over four receptions a game, so expect him to get a few balls thrown his way in the flats. Baltimore is fresh off of giving up a 100-yard rusher in Cedric Benson. It will be interesting to see if they have a repeat performance of last week or if the front seven can hold their ground against this talented backfield. And at quarterback its good ole Brett Favre. Love him or hate him, he is back and he is good. He can still throw lasers all over the field with great precision. His completion percentage of 69.1 is a career high. And he has only thrown two interceptions while tossing nine touchdowns. His footwork is a little slower than it was in his prime, so if the pocket breaks down he’s very likely to be sacked. The Baltimore pass rush has to get to #4 early and often to give the secondary a chance to make some plays.

Prediction: I’d say it’s a stretch to call this a must win game for Baltimore. But they really do need a win here. Going into the bye week with a record of 4-2 is a heck of a lot better than going in losing three straight and being 3-3. The key to the game has to be the Ravens’ offense. You have to assume that the D is going to give up some big plays. With Peterson in the backfield, there’s a great chance of that happening. The offense has to be more balanced than they have been lately and Joe Flacco has to be the confident guy that efficiently won 2 road playoff games last year. All teams face adversity. Right now the ravens are facing a ton of it. They a sour taste in their mouth after losing last week at home with first place in the division on the line. They have the talent and the experience necessary to win this game and I say they do. RAVENS 31 – VIKINGS 26

Week 5 Game Preview: Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium (71.008) · Baltimore, MD

TV: CBS

Announcers: Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Steve Tasker (color)

Fast Facts:

-33.3 percent (14/42) of Baltimore’s offensive drives have ended in touchdowns this season — the highest percentage of any team in the league.

-Cincinnati and Baltimore are tied with three other teams for the league lead in red zone TD percentage at 66.7%. The Ravens have 12 TD’s in 18 red zone trips, while the Bengals have scored 8 TD’s in 12 red zone visits.

-Since 2003, when Marvin Lewis took over as Bengals head coach, the Ravens and Bengals defenses rank 1-2 in the NFL in takeaways. The Ravens lead with 205, and the Bengals are second at 198.

-Cincinnati has allowed a running back to gain at least 93 yards in back to back games.

-The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 39 consecutive regular season games.

Ravens Offense vs. Bengals Defense: After suffering a neck injury last week against the Patriots, it is unlikely that left tackle Jared Gaither will play this Sunday. If that is the case, Michael Oher will switch over from the right side over to the left as he did last week. He will have his hands full though, going up against defensive end Antwan Odom. Odom is tied for first in the league with eight sacks this season. Of Baltimore’s 66 offensive plays last week, only 17 of them were running plays. They will need more balance if they want to keep the Bengals D in check. Joe Flacco and his receivers can only do so much when the opposing defense knows what you are going to do. Le’Ron McClain had zero carries in Week 4. Look for him to get a little more involved this week. Willis McGahee has been a touchdown machine. He scored in his sixth straight game last Sunday and now has nine TDs (7 rush, 2 rec) since Week 16 of 2008, the most of any NFL player during that span.

Bengals Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Quarterback Carson Palmer is off to a mediocre start, with a 75.2 QB rating, which ranks 24th in the league. He has six TD passes but has also thrown five interceptions. Running Back Cedric Benson ranks third in the AFC and is tied for fourth in the league with 367 rushing yards. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. Chad Ochocinco is the team’s leading receiver with 17 catches, a 15.2-yard average and three touchdowns. The story with Baltimore’s defense this year has been their vulnerability through the air. The run defense is as good as it’s ever been, holding opponents to an average of 59.5 yards a game, tops in the NFL.

Prediction: The Bengals are a good football team. If it weren’t for a miracle ending to their week 1 game against Denver, they would be 4-0. They squeaked out an overtime win over the lowly Browns last week, but have also come back after trailing double digits to the world champion Steelers. I wouldn’t be shocked if this turns out to be a close game late. But I just don’t see them finishing the job. The Ravens are a great football team at home. I don’t see them losing, especially with first place in the division on the line. RAVENS 30 – BENGALS 21.

Week 3 Game Preview: Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

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Game Info:

Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. (EDT)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium (71.008) · Baltimore, MD

TV: CBS

Announcers: Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Steve Tasker (color)

Fast Facts:

-Since 1999, Baltimore has allowed 18 100-yard rushing games. The Browns have allowed 18 100-yard rushing games over their last 32 games.

-Since 2003, the Ravens’ defense at home has ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed, points allowed and interceptions.

-Ravens wideout Derrick Mason needs just 3 catches to put him at 800 for his career, a mark which only 22 players in NFL history have hit.

– The Ravens have had at least 1 sack in 14 straight games.

-Free safety Ed Reed has 7 career interceptions against the Browns and has returned 3 of them for scores.

– The Browns are 3-7 in their previous 10 visits to M&T Bank Stadium. The last time Cleveland won in Baltimore was in 2007 in a game that will forever be remembered for Phil Dawson’s wild field goal at the end of regulation.

Josh Cribbs: I have never made a section in a game preview for just one player. But Browns return specialist Josh Cribbs is good enough to warrant his own preview. Consider these stats: From 2005-09, Cribbs is ranks first in the league in kickoff returns for touchdowns (five), and second in combined return touchdowns (seven). He also ranks second in kickoff return yards (5,707 for a 26.2-yard average). During last season’s Ravens-Browns game in Cleveland, Cribbs ran a kickoff back 92-yards for a score, and totaled 237 kickoff return yards and 41 yards on punts. He returned another kick for a TD in week 1 against Minnesota. The Ravens showed last week that their special team coverage has some holes as the Chargers’ Darren Sproles averaged 32 yards per kickoff return including a 52 yard burst that gave his team great field position.

Ravens Offense vs. Browns Defense: Last week the Ravens showed that their 501 yard outburst in week one was no fluke. In fact, Baltimore now ranks first in the AFC in yards per game (406) and points per game (34.5). On paper, this is as big of a mismatch as you will ever see. Defensively, the Browns rank all the way on the other end of the spectrum. Cleveland has given up an average of 30.5 points in their first two games. The offensive line has been VERY impressive so far in this young season. Jared Gaither held Shawne Merriman to one tackle and zero sacks last week. Center Matt Birk has the tough task of blocking Browns all-pro nose tackle Shaun Rogers. Rodgers is strong and takes up lots of space. He can disrupt the running game by closing holes before they even open. Said Birk, “He’s a great player. He combines power and quickness, and that’s rare in a big guy like that to be so explosive. That’s why he’s been a good player for so long in this league. He’s just a big, powerful guy. All you can do is get in there and try to battle.” The three headed monster of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain will once again give Baltimore fresh legs the throughout the game at the running back position. Joe Flacco has been solid in 2009, but has thrown a pick in each game. It will be interesting to see if he can avoid throwing one for the third straight week.

Browns Offense vs. Ravens Defense: Cleveland is having a great deal of trouble scoring points on the offensive side of the ball. They have scored just one offensive TD in their past 33 quarters! That is a stretch of just over 8 full games. Former Raven Jamal Lewis is questionable with a hamstring injury. If Lewis is unable to start, Jerome Harrison and fullback Lawrence Vickers (three combined rushing attempts in ’09) will get the bulk of the carries. As if going up against the NFL’s #1 rush defense wasn’t hard enough, doing so without your starting halfback makes it that much harder. Receiver Braylon Edwards has been very quiet through two games so far this year, hauling in only 7 receptions. But he could be due for a big game, especially against a Baltimore secondary that got lit up last Sunday in San Diego. But Edwards having a succesful day is largely dependent on whether or not quarterback Brady Quinn can play smart football and avoid costly turnovers. Since his debut last November, Quinn has started 5 games, thrown 3 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, and won just one game. He will have to battle a tough pass rush from Ray Lewis and company as well as a loud M&T Bank Stadium crowd.

Prediction: These two teams are going in two very different directions. Baltimore is thinking Super Bowl and Cleveland is trying to establish a solid foundation with Quinn at quarterback and Eric Mangini as head coach. Take a look at the Baltimore Sun’s
staff predictions for this game. They all pretty much agree that this will be a lopsided affair. I disagree. The Browns have talent and will put up a good fight on Sunday. I would be shocked if they were to escape town with a win, but this will be much closer than a lot of people think. RAVENS 24 – BROWNS 13.

Thoughts on Ravens – Chiefs

WR Mark Clayton hauls in a 31-yard touchdown pass over the Chiefs' Brandon Carr. The score put the Ravens ahead 31-24

WR Mark Clayton hauls in a 31-yard touchdown pass over the Chiefs' Brandon Carr. The score put the Ravens ahead 31-24

Yesterday’s 38-24 win was very satisfying for me as a Ravens fan. Some wouldn’t agree, but I’ll explain a little later. Many people are quick to point out that the ravens were heavy favorites, and that they were given a tough fight by one of the worst teams in football. I don’t share that same opinion.

I wasn’t surprised at all by the Chiefs’ effort yesterday; you can always expect great effort from any NFL team on any given Sunday. I was a little shocked though, with the two long scoring drives they had in the fourth quarter. Fabian Washington seemed to be struggling with coverage and the pass rush was decent but not getting to Brodie Croyle as nearly as quickly as it should have been.

And aside from the special teams mishap which resulted in a blocked punt for a TD, and a poor interception by Joe Flacco which led to another TD, the Ravens looked superb yesterday.

Flacco was very sharp and it definitely looks as if he has a much better feel for the pocket than he did last year. He really know when to scramble, when to throw it away, or when to just take a sack. I loved his touchdown pass to Willis McGahee. It was very Roethlisberger-esque, if that’s a word. He bought himself time, kept his head up and extended the play long enough for a man to open up and he capitalized beautifully for the score.

Ray Rice and Willis McGahee were great; they combined for 152 yards on a score on the ground. While Le’Ron McClain caught 3 passes and rushed 6 times for 42 total yards and a score. The running back by committee works! It really is the heart and soul of the Ravens offense.

Mark Clayton’s beautiful game winning touchdown capped a solid day for the receiving corps. He, Mason, Heap, and Washington combined for 2 TD’s, 17 receptions, and 241 yards!

As I mentioned earlier, the defensive play in the early part of the fourth quarter was cause for concern in my opinion. But let’s go over the performance of this defense on their first four series of the game. Four straight 3 and outs! They did not yield a first down until the 4:38 mark in the 2nd quarter! That is dominant. KC was 2 for 10 on third downs and only made 2 trips to the redzone all day. One of those was courtesy of Joe Flacco, not the D.

So back to my first sentence, you only get better when you make mistakes and learn from them. The Ravens made a few yesterday. 2 of them ended up costing them 14 points. Against tougher teams, it won’t be as easy to put up 38 and negate those two scores. You got to believe head coach John Harbaugh will have these guys ready and even more focused for a west coast trip to play the Chargers next Sunday.

Ravens 27 – Dolphins 9

Jan. 4, 2009, 7:14 PM

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Ed Reed celebrates the Ravens' 27-9 victory over the Dolphins

The Baltimore Ravens marched into Miami on Sunday afternoon and imposed their will on resurgent Dolphin squad in front of 74,240 at Dolphin Stadium, earning a trip to the next round of the NFL playoffs.

From the very start, Baltimore played their game. It did not translate into points immediately, but the defense steadily wore down the Dolphins, forcing five turnovers out of a team that only gave up 13 total in 16 regular season games.

Safety Ed Reed gave the Ravens their first touchdown of the game with a 64 yard interception return late in the first half.

After that score, the boys in purple never looked back.

Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco managed the game well, completing only nine passes the entire game. But his zero turnovers are a number the Ravens will take any day of the week

Le’Ron McClain wore down the Dolphins defense with 19 carries for 75 yards and a score. Eventually Willis McGahee capitalized on the tired Miami defensive unit when he broke a 48 yard run with 4:53 to play in the 4th quarter.

That long run set up a 3rd and goal and a chance for the Ravens to score and put the game away. Flacco did just that with an eight yard quarterback draw to make the score 27-9.

The big story of the game was Baltimore’s ability to force five turnovers out of a team that was known for taking care of the football.

The win means the Ravens have a date with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, January 10, at 4:30 (EST). On the line will be a trip to the AFC Championship Game.

Playoff Bound: Ravens 27 – Jaguars 7

Dec. 28, 2008, 9:44 PM

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Here are few notes following the Ravens 27-7 stomping of the Jacksonville Jaguars

1) Joe Flacco and the offense looked very solid. This was easily Flacco’s best game of the year. He looked very comfortable out there and made some incredible throws to Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. Cam Cameron threw in a flea flicker and also got Troy Smith involved. The big play from Smith came in the third quarter when he lateraled the ball to Flacco, who then found him for a 36 yard catch and run.  Le’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and Lorenzo Neal all contributed nicely on the ground. Zero turnovers is a very nice stat to see.

2) The defense was great again. Although it looked like Maurice Jones-Drew would gain 100+ yards after a good first half, the Ravens played shut down D in the second half. I cannot say enough about Ed Reed. He had 2 more interceptions today to give him a league leading  nine for the season. If he does not win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, I will be shocked and dissapointed.

3) The Miami Dolphins defeated the New York Jets to win the AFC East, which means Baltimore will travel to Miami for a 1:00 kickoff on Sunday, January 4 on Wild Card Weekend.


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