Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions after the
Andy in Hagerstown: It's hard to gauge what improvements the Ravens have actually made, as the
Mike Preston: I thought the pass coverages and drops by the linebackers were good. I thought left guard
And Andy, you are right. In 25 years of covering the
Richard in Dallas: Is
Mike Preston: I am positive Caldwell is having an influence on Flacco. He works with him every day. According to one assistant coach I spoke with earlier this year, Flacco has learned more this season than ever before under Caldwell.
Errol Phillips: Did
Mike Preston: No, he just had a decent game against a bad team. Let's see him do it again, and again and again. 'Consistency' is the key word for playing in the NFL, and few among the Ravens front seven have been consistent this season.
Dr. Ken from Frederick: Was the fake field goal executed in poor taste?
Mike Preston: No, it was just executed against a poor team. Personally, I wouldn't have tried it and certainly not shown it against a sorry team like Oakland. I hold that one in my bag of tricks for another team at the right time. But the Raiders showed their hand by overloading to one side, and the Ravens took advantage. It's basic football. You try to take advantage of the numbers and the Ravens did. If the Raiders have a problem, it should be with themselves. They quit after the first period.
Frank Kalita: I note that most opposing teams are keying on stopping
Mike Preston: Rainey isn't ready for the big time yet. I like the duo of Rice and
Harry Merriken: Did you think the Raiders' taunting had any impact on the Ravens' desire to pile it on? I recall
Mike Preston: No, the Ravens saw an opportunity to score a touchdown instead of a field goal, and they took it.
LordBern: Was Dean Pees moving upstairs into the coaches box part of the reason the defense has improved (somewhat)? Or is it because since he's moved upstairs we've only played Cleveland and Oakland? Perhaps Cam can sit next to him upstairs?
Mike Preston: Oooh, nice shot there at the old Camster.
I can't say the move by Pees has had a major impact. You are correct, Cleveland and Oakland stink. But I give the Ravens credit for trying to improve their defense. You get tired of hearing a coach say we're going back to fundamentals and we're going to keep grinding. Try something new and insert some new players, which the Ravens have done. One good thing is that the transition period is over with Pees going upstairs. All of those elements are out of the way heading into Pittsburgh, so there shouldn't be any snags as far as communication from Pees to the coaches on the field to the players.
Jeff in Parkville: Does
Mike Preston: For a player who has been around as long as Birk, he turns in a good, solid effort every week. He is on the downside of his career, but there aren't too many players as professional as Birk. He struggles at times, but I will never question his effort.
Ruxton Atheist: The only other team in recent history with a similar home/away statistical disparity –
Mike Preston: Next question, please.
Richard in Dallas: After