3 and Out: Ravens takeaways after win over Miami
First down – Getting Ray Rice the football should be priority No. 1 for the offense.
History says that if Rice gets his touches, the Ravens win. They are 19-2 all-time when Rice gets 20 or more carries. Sunday was the latest example, when Rice had 74 yards on 27 carries, and the Ravens topped the Dolphins, 26-23.
Rice didn’t break any big runs against Miami, but stay tuned. He is getting healthier every day, after suffering a hip flexor Week 2 against the Browns, and sitting out Week 3. Rice is running with more confidence, and the addition of left tackle Eugene Monroe should help the offensive line.
The best way to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday is to keep him off the field. Rice looks ready to roll. The Ravens need to keep feeding him.
Second down – Torrey Smith is a No. 1 receiver.
I’ve heard people arguing about Smith, asking whether he is a true No. 1 receiver, or just the best receiver the Ravens have.
Stop it. There’s no debate. Smith is a No. 1. He is on pace to top 1,700 receiving yards this season. He’s doing this despite being double-teamed frequently, despite opponents doing everything in their power to keep Smith from catching deep balls.
When defenses roll coverage toward you, and still can’t stop you, you are a No. 1 receiver. And with Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, and Ed Dickson starting to make plays, and Jacoby Jones returning soon, Smith is about to get more help. That means he may become even more dangerous. And he is still only 24 years old.
Third down – Terrell Suggs might be having his best season.
Suggs won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011, and he may never win it again. But forget the award. Suggs is having a monster year, both as a player, and as a leader.
Suggs dominated the fourth quarter against the Dolphins on Sunday with three sacks. But this is Suggs’ first season without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who were the unquestioned emotional leaders of the Ravens’ defense.
With Lewis and Reed gone, Suggs took it upon himself to set the standard for the Ravens’ defense this season. He arrived at training camp in the best shape of his career. He is still the fun-loving Suggs in the locker room, but when it’s time for business, Suggs is all business.
Suggs may not win another defensive player of the year award. But Suggs, who turns 31 years old on Friday, has never been better than he is now.
Extra point – Interesting how two former Jaguars are now starters for the Ravens – inside linebacker Daryl Smith, and left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is expected to start this Sunday. Who says the Jaguars don’t have talent?