Kubiak Suddenly Favorite In MD Governor Race
We've been warned against it. Don't get too excited.
But it's just so tempting because it seems like forever since the offense hummed like it did last night. Ten gorgeous plays for 80 wonderful yards – on a balanced series of five passes and five rushes – capped off by a will-imposing touchdown run.
Head Coach John Harbaugh told us not to read too much into one offensive series for the starters in one preseason game. Fine, we won't. … Buuuuut what about two offensive series?
"First two drives goes 10 and 13 plays," tweeted ESPN's Jamison Henley. "[Gary] Kubiak is suddenly the favorite for the Maryland governor race."
Yes, there's a new coordinator in town, and while he isn't actually running for office, Kubiak just got all of Ravens Nation to buy into his West Coast system.
For one series, Kubiak had quarterback Joe Flacco looking decisive and sharp with a quick trigger and spreading the love to four different targets. For one series, he had the starting offensive line pushing the 49ers back. For one series, he showed the Ravens can still run the ball down an opponent's throat.
"[It's] going to be hard for Ravens fans to temper enthusiasm for [the] new Kubiak offense after that start," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
It wasn't hard for Flacco. He simply called the opening drive "nice."
"Nice? NICE? I'm going to need a little more enthusiasm out of you, Joe," wrote WNST's Glenn Clark. "It was a damn masterpiece! … I mean, just going back and READING the first possession is fun."
– Ray Rice rumbles for six yards
– Flacco to Dennis Pitta for 14
– Flacco to Jacoby Jones on a slant for 12 on third down
– Flacco to Kyle Juszczyk over the middle for 17
– Bernard Pierce pounds the rock for 7
– Flacco to Steve Smith for 9 more
– Rice again, this time for 6
– Pierce finishes it off, punching it in from the 2-yard line
"It was a 10-play, 80-yard, 4:59 box of magic goodness," Clark wrote. "For a second you kinda didn't even care that it was the preseason. You just wanted to high five the person closest to you and say 'DUDE I TOLD YOU GARY KUBIAK WAS GOING TO COME IN HERE AND FIX EVERYTHING!'"
Of course, Clark is being somewhat facetious.
He knows one preseason game doesn't mean* *the offense is going to be amazing, or even quite good. It just means the Ravens starting offense had one good drive, and they have to stack drives, stack practices, stack preseason games, and then hopefully stack regular-season wins.
Clark says he knows better than to put any more stock in it.
"We all know better," he wrote. "(We DO all know better, right?) That's what makes the excitement of the team's first offensive possession so frustrating."
Anquan Boldin Thanks Ravens Fans
Thursday night marked Anquan Boldin's first time back at M&T Bank Stadium since being traded to San Francisco in 2013. He had his former teammates on his mind (remember his Flacco Freudian slip?) and was looking forward to getting closure with Ravens fans.
Boldin got what he was looking for.
As can be seen in this image from NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, Boldin interacted with fans that were wearing his No. 81 jersey – both in purple and red. His beaming smile lit up the stadium.
Prior to kickoff, Boldin and Harbaugh took* *time for a hug and exchanged a few words.
Boldin downplayed being in the visitors' locker room and playing against his former teammates. He said both were "no big deal."
But he didn't downplay the fan support.
"I just want to say thank you for the time I spent here and the support they've given me, and even after I left, it's been nothing but love," Boldin said after the game. "So thank you."
John Completes Triple Crown In Sibling Rivalries
Draw another line in John Harbaugh's win column.* *
He's now 3-0 against brother, Jim.
"John Harbaugh completes triple crown in sibling rivalries," tweeted Hensley.
This preseason win isn't as big of a deal as the Turkey Bowl in 2011, and of course not as big as Super Bowl XLVII. But something tells me, preseason results still matter to the uber-competitive brothers.
Although, you would never know it from the post-game HarBros handshake. It was all business – and respect.
Mosley Throws Down, Looks Ready To Start
Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley was everything as advertised.
He was all over the field last night, sniffing out a screen pass, shooting the gap to stop a run in the backfield, and covering the middle of the field sideline to sideline.
He polished things off with this gem of a play – slamming quarterback Blain Gabbert to the turf for his first NFL sack.
"C. J. Mosley looks ready to start as a rookie," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown. "[H]e has the calm confidence of a vet."
"The way he blitzes up the middle, the rookie first-round pick could end up with four or five sacks this season," added Hensley.
Jackson Winning Nickel Battle
Asa Jackson came into training camp, trailing cornerback Chykie Brown in the battle for the No. 3 cornerback spot. The tide seemed to be changing after two weeks of practice, and now Clifton Brown is comfortable flat-out saying Jackson is winning the battle.
"Asa Jackson is winning the nickel cornerback battle," Brown wrote. "Not only can Jackson play outside, he can cover slot receivers. At this stage, he looks like the best option at nickel corner over Chykie Brown."
The third-year corner out of Cal Poly, helped his case with a second-quarter interception, reading Gabbert's eyes and making the leaping pick. He took a celebratory strut to the sideline.
Preston: Offensive Line Looks Like A Dream
For one night, Mike Preston is drinking the purple Kool-Aid.
For one night only, he says it's OK to dream about a vastly improved offensive line after an impressive opening with the starters. There are the disclaimers that the 49ers sat six defensive starters and the intensity lacked because it wasn't the regular season.
"[B]ut that's not what you look for in preseason game No. 1," Preston wrote. "On the offensive line, you look for communication and cohesion. And with the Ravens, you look to see whether their two best offensive linemen have healed from a year ago and whether two new starters could be effective.
"For one game, for at least one series, the answer was yes. And then you dream because that's all you can ask for at this point."
And then there was second-year lineman Rick Wagner, who has been under the microscope as the Ravens are betting on him to be their starting right tackle.
Most probably didn't notice him – a sound compliment for an offensive lineman – but Preston did. And he was impressed.
"He got good push on running plays and was quick off the ball to set up in pass protection. There were times he was overpowering, but he always stayed engaged, though played too upright at times," The Sun columnist wrote.
"And if he continues to get better and both [Kelechi] Osemele and [Marshal] Yanda stay healthy, then the Ravens could have a special offense."
Biggest Concern? Run Defense
Not everything was perfect in the Ravens' preseason opener.
If you ask Hensley, the area of focus needs to be on the run defense.
"The biggest concern from what was a more-than-solid performance for the Ravens was the run defense. The starting defense struggled to set the edges," Hensley wrote. "Cornerbacks failed to get off blocks, and linebacker Terrell Suggs got caught pursuing too far inside."
Hensley did give credit to the defense for making a red-zone stand when it counted. The BIG 335-pound Brandon Williams shed his blocker and made a tackle 1 yard behind the line of scrimmage on third down. It forced a field goal and saved a potential touchdown.
- @jeffzrebiecsun: Fans are seeing what reporters have seen throughout camp. Kamar Aiken has been making plays all over the field in camp, too. [Twitter]
- @sportswcoleman* *[1057TheFan's Jerry Coleman]: It's going to be VERY interesting watching #Ravens Jimmy Smith practicing vs #49ers next few days. Things are chippy already. [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: Always a pleasure playing at M&T in front of our fans....fine tuning this machine! Felt good to play someone else. Back to the grind [Twitter]
- @BPierce_30: Thank you for all the love and support tonight! #RavensNation [Twitter]
- @ZoBot_45 [Lorenzo Taliaferro]: I appreciate all the love on my timeline you guys are amazing [Twitter]
- @jamisonhensley: Something tells me #Ravens will be working on ball security drills. Two fumbles by running backs (Pierce recovered his, Forsett lost his). [Twitter]
- Will Rice have to fight for his job? That's what Sal Paolantonio asked the three-time Pro Bowler after his backups had an impressive outing. Rice looked good with his limited time of three carries for 17 yards, but so did Bernard Pierce (10 carries for 37 yards) and company. Rice handled the pointed question like a Pro … [ESPN]
- @aditinfl [NFL Network reporter]: The Ravens' mascots are here, on a night out from the Maryland zoo. Diapers courtesy Under Armour. [Instagram]
- @MayorSRB [Mayor Rawlings-Blake]: I'm so excited to watch our @Ravens play their first game of the year tonight. Go Ravens! [Twitter]
- @aceandsmitty [Steve Smith family]:First @ravens game! New season, new city, new team...excited for this new phase in our lives. #godaddy #stevesmithsr #wearehisbiggestfans [Instagram]