I was pleased to be joined by Bruce Raffel from Baltimore Beatdown, our Baltimore Ravens affiliate, to preview Sunday's game. Bruce talks about the lack of production from T.J. Houshmandzadeh, if the team is utilizing Ray Rice enough, the Ravens' secondary, and more.
Chris: "I thought it was a great move for the Ravens to sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but it's a bit surprising to see that he only has one catch through two games. What has been the reason for his lack of productivity up to this point?"
Bruce: "There is no excuse for his lack of production, as he was supposed to be more of a third down target. Hopefully this will change Sunday and beyond as he gets more comfortable with the offense and vice versa."
Chris: "Based on what you've seen over the first two weeks, should Ray Rice be receiving more touches?"
Bruce: "This was a big discussion point from last week, as Rice was doing well and inexplicably, the coaches seemed to abandon the run game and he rarely touched the ball towards the end of the game. We are still a run-first team, but for whatever reason, OC Cam Cameron wants to change that and his stubbornness has hurt the team's chances."
Chris: "Browns fans will be thrilled that Ed Reed won't be in the secondary to pick off a pass from Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace, but the Jets and the Bengals didn't seem to exactly pick apart the Ravens' supposed "soft spot" (the secondary). Wallace tried to throw the deep ball way too many times last week, and while he usually overthrew our receivers, they were surprisingly open most of the time. I know Mark Sanchez didn't test the Ravens' defense, but did Carson Palmer try to go deep? If so, how well did the Ravens defend on those plays?"
Bruce: "The Ravens secondary was thought to be a weak link but has played surprisingly well thru two games and there is no reason to expect that won't continue. The biggest difference to me is pressure on the QB. While our sack total is low, we still have hurried the passer well enough not to give him time to find the open guy and our deep coverage has been stellar. If/when Reed returns, the turnovers should increase, as we've dropped a few easy picks that could have changed the game last week."
Chris: "Baltimore has been known for having some pretty good drafts. Which player in this year's draft class, if any, has made an impact over the first two weeks?"
Bruce: "The Ravens first pick in the second round, Sergio Kindle, just signed a base rate contract and will not play in 2010. The other second round pick, Terrence "Mount" Cody, has played only sparingly if at all but should begin making an impact shortly. The biggest draft pick contributors have been our tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who block, catch and play special teams, along with WR David Reed, who also is a good special teams player. However, our biggest difference is, of course, the free agent signings, leading with WR Anquan Boldin, who the Browns will get a big dose of Sunday."
Chris: "I'm not sure if you saw any of the Chiefs vs. Browns game last week, but on every kickoff, the Chiefs kicked the ball high and short to the upback instead of Joshua Cribbs. Reports have surfaced that the Baltimore Ravens plan on kicking to Cribbs and trusting their coverage units. If you were the special teams coordinator, what would you do?"
Bruce: "Gosh, I certainly hope they don't stubbornly kick to Cribbs, as the Bengals got a great return on us to kick the lead-taking field goal. Besides, why kick to the best returner in the game? It seems like an obvious decision. By the way, Ravens 24-6."
Once again, I'd like to thank Bruce for taking the time to answer this questions.