Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

Cindy Cummings Wheeler: How does it feel to be the only Sun writer (probably the only sports writer anywhere) to pick the Ravens to beat the Broncos? Thanks for having faith in our team!

It wasn't about faith. Few good teams get blown out by the same team twice in one season and a little birdie got in my ear and told me about the law of averages. They were on the Ravens side going in against Peyton Manning because he had beaten them often. 

Fran in Baltimore: I know you have been hard on Joe Flacco and at times you were right. Now I have one question – Can we pay the man???

Sure, the Ravens will pay him, one way or another. Flacco is a polarizing player in this town but my opinion about him, and I assume the Ravens as well, hasn't changed. He is a good quarterback and should be paid in range of being in the No. 6 to No. 10, 11 or 12 in the NFL.

Brian Spector in Easton: Why did Jim Caldwell continue to call a running play on almost every first down? He did it over and over and over. 

Caldwell had a plan, and he executed that plan. That plan drove most fans crazy, but it had a purpose. The defense needed to to be spelled in the altitude of Denver after a short week. It also had an effect on the defensive front of the Broncos because the Ravens wore them down. Rice had runs of 32 yards and 11 yards late in the game that led to scores.

Adam: It's hard to have a complain after such an amazing victory, but I can't help but wonder why the offense didn't take a single shot down the field in the second half or during overtime after having so much success in the first half.  The Jacoby Jones TD was essentially a Hail Mary and awesome, but Torrey Smith was burning Champ Bailey and we didn't throw one pass down the field to him after halftime.  Considering the game could have easily gone the other way in overtime, I can't help but feel we could have pulled away in the second half if we continued to exploit what had already been working so well in the first half.  Why would the offensive game plan ignore the deep route in the second half?

Ray Rice is still the best offensive player on this team, and he needs to get the ball in his hands. As discussed in the previous question, the Ravens had to give the defense a blow and they were effective on converting third downs. The Broncos also went to more Cover 2 in the second half prohibiting the long pass. One of the ways to get a team out of Cover 2 is to pound the ball and force them to move a safety near the line of scrimmage.

Caldwell showed poise and discipline. Just enjoy the win.  

Bob: How much better would Joe Flacco and the Ravens have been this season without Bryant McKinnie in John Harbaugh’s doghouse?

Instead of going on the road Sunday to play in the AFC championship, they might have been playing it in M&T Bank Stadium.

Scott in N.C.: I was critical of Jerry Rosburg last year when special teams were so horrible and then changed my perception this year when it seemed much of the problem must have been lack of playmakers on special teams.  Things seemed so much better this year.  Then came Sunday. CBS had a great shot from above showing blown lane assignments on both of the unacceptable TD returns.  For the life of me I do not see how that could happen twice in one game. Special teams blew our chances last year (Billy Cundiff) and almost did it again this year.  Where's the accountability on special teams? 

Scott, the kick coverage against the Broncos was terrible.  There is no excuse for it.  However, this season the special teams unit has been the most consistent on the team.  Hopefully they remember their lane assignments Sunday.

Also, special teams did not blow the Ravens' chance last year. The whole team let down. The defense could not keep the Patriots from scoring late in the game. Lee Evans could not hold onto the game-winning pass.  Coach John Harbaugh did not use a timeout to allow Cundiff to get set and follow his normally routine.    

Robert Hughes: Have Paul Kruger and Cary Williams earned big free agent contracts?

Possibly. The word on the street is that Kruger wants a deal in the range of $8 million to $9 million. I am not sure that any team will give him that for one decent season. Kruger is an opportunist. He plays well against weaker opponents but disappears against the better ones. However, Williams has put together back-to-back solid seasons. After turning down a decent offer from the Ravens last offseason, I am sure Williams has hopes of cashing in the way Ladarius Webb did last offseason.  

Aaron Haack: Why do the Ravens (and I assume other teams) rotate punt returners throughout the game?  I was a bit surprised to see Ed Reed (Captain Lateral) back there at the end of the Broncos game.  Thank you in advance for answering this.

I have no idea why the Ravens would use Ed Reed in that situation. Jacoby Jones is the Pro Bowl return man. I know Tandon Doss has had a few nice returns during the season, but I believe in dancing with who brought you. Jones should be doing all of the kick returns.

Mark Mason in Seattle: I nearly threw up when I saw Ray Lewis give up on the bench in the first OT. And then he had the nerve to cry for the cameras. 

Thanks for the opinion, those are normally saved for talk radio, though. But there is a reason Jerry Coleman of 105.7 calls him "Red Light Ray." When the cameras are rolling, it's show time at The Apollo.

Craig in Winchester, Va.: Do you think with this latest win that the Ravens are peaking at the proper time to give them a win in the AFC championship game and on to the Super Bowl?  

The last few seasons we've seen teams that peak down the stretch reach and win the Super Bowl. The Ravens seem to be on that path. The word destiny is getting thrown around by the team. How can you not think that the Ravens can make it to the Super Bowl? However, the Patriots are also playing extremely well, and quarterback Tom Brady has been there and done that. 

My dream, though, is still alive. It would be awesome to have a front row seat at the press conference for Beyonce at the Super Bowl.

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