Don't Be Surprised If Teams Pounce On Kubiak
I was literally just thinking how the Ravens could keep Gary Kubiak after this season when I saw this ESPN story hit my Twitter feed yesterday:
"Don't be surprised if it's one-and-gone for Gary Kubiak," it read.
It doesn't take a detective to figure out who is behind the Ravens catapulting from the NFL's No. 29 offense last year to the No. 8 unit so far this season.
"Kubiak's fingerprints are all over the new-look offense," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "[He] has the Ravens on track to ending a stretch of 16 straight seasons without a top-10 offense. That's tied for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history.
"Joe Flacco has never played better. The running game has been the most explosive in the NFL. The offensive line has gone from the league's worst to one of the best."
Hensley pointed out the long list of impressive improvements:
- The offense is on pace to "shatter" records for points (27.3), total yards (389.8) and passing yards (257).
- The ground game has gotten back its explosiveness and has become the sixth-best unit for yards per carry (4.7) after a league-worst ranking last year (3.1).
- The unit is doing it without Ray Rice or Dennis Pitta, and instead with 35-year-old receiver Steve Smith Sr. and journeyman running back Justin Forsett.
- Flacco is playing with greater efficiency and fewer interceptions, and is on pace for a career year.
- The offensive line has allowed zero sacks in four of six games so far this season. This comes after Flacco was sacked a career-high 48 times last year.
Obviously, it takes an army to make so many improvements. Many players and coaches deserve credit along with Kubiak.
That said, the point Hensley is making is this: other teams will take notice of Kubiak's (major) role and will want that success for themselves.
"Kubiak, 53, came to the Ravens after losing his last 11 games as head coach of the Houston Texans and enduring criticism that his offense had become too predictable," Hensley wrote.
"His impact on the Ravens offense has certainly begun repairing his reputation to the point where no one should be surprised if he is a head coach again in 2015."
Report: Ravens Still Have Interest In Champ Bailey
Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey reportedly worked out for the Ravens last week prior to the team signing Dominique Franks.
With the Franks signing, the thought was that the buzz surrounding Bailey would fizzle, but The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston reports the Ravens "still have interest" in him and have "maintained contact."
The 15-year veteran isn't playing at the same level that earned him 12 Pro Bowl nods, but Preston says Baltimore could use Bailey as a No. 3 or 4 corner or safety.
"More importantly, Ravens coach John Harbaugh could use a veteran presence on the back end of a defense that lacks communication," Preston wrote.
"The Ravens continue to monitor a list of free agents who are available and could help them throughout the season, and Bailey is high on the list."
Will Hill Could Make 'Significant Impact'
Teammates had to tell safety Will Hill to slow down at practice yesterday.
"I can't. I only got one speed right now," Hill told The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Hill wants to make up for lost time after his six-game suspension, but we still don't know if he'll get the chance to do so Sunday. The Ravens have until Monday to activate him to the active roster, so Harbaugh could wait until after the Atlanta matchup.
Whether it's this week or the next, the feeling around town is that if Hill picks up where he left off last year as one of the league's best safeties, he will make a major impression on the Ravens secondary.
Defensive Line Getting Reinforcements
The unit that was hit the hardest by the injury bug could finally be getting some reinforcements.
Not only did Terrence Cody (who may have been the happiest NFL player ever just to get on the practice field – see image below) return after coming off the physically unable to perform list, but second-round pick Timmy Jernigan was out there for the first time since Sept.* *11.
Jernigan had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a meniscus injury, per Wilson, and was a full participant Wednesday.
"He appeared to be moving carefully during drills," wrote Wilson. "Whether Jernigan will play on Sunday remains undetermined, but there's a shot he will play, especially with defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi not practicing due to an ankle injury."
Meoli: Falcons Defense Not Much Better Than Bucs
The Ravens "feasted" on the Bucs defense last week, and everyone wonders what Flacco and company will do for an encore.
Nobody expects Baltimore to put up five touchdowns in 16 minutes again, but there's a shot at a pretty nice afternoon.
The Sun's Jon Meoli points out that the Falcons defense is nearly as bad as the Bucs, statistically speaking.
Tampa Bay was ranked No. 30 in the NFL heading into the Ravens matchup last week. *Atlanta is ranked one spot worse at No. 31 *this week. The Falcons unit is giving up a 419 yards per game.
"This might be billed as a matchup of two similar quarterbacks, but only one gets to go against a poor defense," wrote Meoli.
- Steve Smith has already notched his third touchdown reception of 50 yards or more with the Ravens, which is as many as he had with the Panthers in the last five years. Thus, Hensley came to this conclusion: "Something tells me that Smith has better chemistry with Joe Flacco than he ever did with Cam Newton."
- Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $25,000 by the league for twisting the ankles of Newton and tight end Greg Olson last week. Ian Rapoport says the next punishment could be a suspension if he does it again. Analysts debated whether the fine is enough to deter him. Let's hope it does with the Ravens on the Bengals' schedule next week. [NFL.com |FoxSports.com]
- Are the Bengals the most suspect one-loss team? "Andy Dalton is the Bengals' quarterback," wrote Adam Schein. "Marvin Lewis is the head coach. It's been proven consistently that you cannot count on this tandem, regardless of record, feel or overall talent. That Sunday night debacle a few weeks back, when the previously undefeated Bengals were trounced by a Patriots team that entered the game with its season on the brink, was a reminder of this. As was that tie with Carolina. Or I can simply reference the three straight first-round playoff exits. I do not trust Cincy. I will not trust Cincy." [NFL.com]
Hell of a run O's thanks for some exciting times in the city...the fair-weather fans will forget that even happend...thank you — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) October 15, 2014