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Five Questions with Ravens Gab

I recently had the chance to talk to Matt Jergensen, the editor over at Ravens Gab, about the Ravens season outlook and the upcoming clash on Monday Night between the Ravens and Jets. I was able to ask him five questions about the Jets week one opponent and I did the same for him, which you can check out here.

I had a great time doing this with Matt and will try to do this at least a few more times during the season as it’s a great way to learn about the Jets opponents.

1. The Ravens are being pegged by many experts as one of the Super Bowl favorites. How high are the expectations for the Ravens this year from the fans and would you consider anything less a disappointment?
The expectations from the Front Office are pretty clear that this season is championship or bust. They realize that age and injuries may mean that this could be the last season for Ed Reed and Ray Lewis to wear the uniform and the moves they have made this off-season reflect that mentality.

I think fans and myself included are a bit more leary. I think a return trip to the playoffs is the goal but as anyone knows to get the Super Bowl takes some good fortune as well as solid football. This is the deepest and most complete team o

2. Joe Flacco had some ups and downs in his second season, but still did increase his stats all across the board last season. With the additions of Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmanzadeh and Donte Stallworth is this the year that Flacco establishes himself among the NFL’s elite signal callers?
It should be. He was thrown into the job as a rookie out of necessity and as you mentioned he’s had his growing pains along the way. But this is the first off-season that I can ever remember the offense being such a priority to provide him with viable options in the passing game. Flacco showed some real flashes of brilliance early in the season before Jared Allen made his ankle mincemeat back in Week Six. If he doesn’t take that next step this year there will be no excuses left as to why he didn’t achieve more.

3. With Ed Reed currently on the PUP list, Dominique Foxworth on injured reserve and both Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb coming off ACL injuries, how concerned are you about the secondary especially considering the NFL is as pass friendly as ever?
I’m not nearly as scared as I was a month ago. Tom Zbikowski filled in nicely for Reed at the end of last season and he looked fantastic this pre-season due to a new conditioning program. He had no problem pushing vet Ken Hamlin to the second squad. Fabian Washington has been cleared and appears to be moving well and should be full-tilt for Monday. Webb who could eventually be the best corner on this team won’t dress against the Jets but could be activated by Week Three. They should go slower with him. Chris Carr play well down the stretch and in the playoffs in 2009 and should anchor the other side with Washington. That leaves recent acquistion from Seattle, Josh Wilson as the nickel and I remember him from his day as a Maryland Terrapin. His speed will be an asset. Also look for Haruki Nakamura to see time in Dime coverage. He’s a third year man like Zbikowski who looks ready to contribute on more than just Special Team this season.

4. Who is one player on the Ravens that many NFL fans don’t know now but will by seasons end?
That’s a great question. The team has many high profile guys and even rookie Terrence Cody has gotten publicity due to his immense frame. I already mentioned Zbikowski as a man to watch by I’d say linebacker Jarret Johnson. He’s the blue collar guy that gets almost no publicity and last season was second on the team with 6 sacks. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league.

5. Finally, who do you see winning on Monday Night when the Ravens take on the Jets and why?
It’s a tough draw for the Ravens this Monday as they face old friend Rex Ryan and open a new Meadowlands Complex. But I really think Baltimore has an excellent chance to start the season 1-0. As you can figure the game plan will be to make Mark Sanchez beat you with his arm so they should stack the box and force him to throw. Santonio Holmes is out for this game and I couldn’t be happier. The guy flat out owns us. That leaves a receiving group that doesn’t scare me as much. Which as long as the Ravens stay away from costly turnovers┬ámakes me wonder where the scoring is coming from.

This is where the Raven offense must step up and fufill the pre-season hype. I expect them to spread the field, go no huddle, running draws and screens. Having watched Rex’s defenses over the years this is how you beat them. You have to be patient and when you get your shot you must win the one on one battles when you can go┬ádeep. I’ve got Baltimore winning 20-13.

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