ACROSS ENEMY LINES: THE RAVENS & BALTIMORE

With the Eagles season upon us, we have a scheduled fill with foes both quite familiar and not. Outside of the team’s NFC East rivals – who they don’t start facing until week 4 – the Birds have a few match-ups against some very unfamiliar foes, like the Baltimore Ravens.

The Eagles have only faced the Ravens three times, splitting the games equally with a win, loss, and tie, with the most recent coming in 2008. You may remember that 36-7 dismantling at the hands of Baltimore, when Donovan played like shit and was benched at the half only to see Kevin Kolb (remember him??) come in and perform only marginally better. Let’s hope that this match-up with our feathered foes down 95 ends on a much better note.

In what we hope will be a regular column around these parts, we’re going to chat with a blogger from across enemy lines each week so we can get their take on both sides of the ball, as well as all of the fun stuff their town has to offer.

Brian Malan from Baltimore Beat Down joins us this week to chat about his birds, his city, and of course, where you can get the best crab cakes. I sense a cheesesteak-like debate brewing already.

SOP: How did the Ravens look in the first week, and what would you like to see the team build on going into today’s game? What are some mistakes you hope they can avoid?

BM: The Ravens looked dominant in week 1, plain and simple. All facets of the game came together to allow Baltimore to win by the largest margin (31 points) of the 2012 opening weekend. The conversation begins and ends with Joe Flacco for this week, as he was brilliant against a stout Bengals defense that had forced Flacco to throw more interceptions than touchdowns in the previous 8 meetings. Defense was strong in bending, but not breaking for the Bengals and holding a young, explosive offense to only 13 points.

I would like to see the team simply build on not being complacent with going up 7 or 10 points late in the game if that happens. That was Baltimore’s problem last year where they were satisfied with a 20-10 to start the 4th quarter, and nearly allowed teams to come back. We need to score fast, and keep scoring. Baltimore did that last Monday against Cincinnati, and it woke the world up that Baltimore is not messing around this year.

As for some of the mistakes to fix, our front 7 needs to improve in defending the run. Green-Elis for the Bengals had far too many 6,7,8 yard runs against a defense that is known to dominate the opponent’s rushing attack. With a RB as talented as Lesean McCoy, we will need to be disciplined with our gap assignments. McCoy is going to make some people miss, that is just a given with how talented he is, what we need to do is just not allow him to get to the second level on every run.

SOP: Which Raven do you expect to have the most impact against the Eagles and why? Which Eagle do the Ravens need to contain to leave with a win?

BM: I expect QB Joe Flacco to have the most impact simply because this is now his team. We go as far as he takes us. He has been the key difference in why this team has made the playoffs the last 4 seasons and why it was such a roller coaster before he got here. If Flacco is on his game, and he is spreading the ball around like he did against Cincinnati and has done his whole career quite frankly, the Eagles will have a tough time winning this one. Also have to show Ray Rice some respect, forget about him and you are in for a long day.

The Eagle we need to contain the most to leave with a win is definitely Mike Vick. After last week’s performance against the Browns, if we can pressure him again into throwing toward tight coverage, it will be a key factor in winning that game. I say Vick and not McCoy (who is clearly your best offensive weapon) because a guy like McCoy is just simply going to have success no matter how good of defense you play against him. Vick is someone that can be stopped with a good game plan, but also someone who can demolish you if you are not on top of what he is doing. I think Ed Reed and the very talent CB’s we have are going to play tight, press coverage and dare Vick to try and throw one of his laser passes into a small window.

SOP: Is there any music or specific albums you play to get yourself in the mood for the game? I suppose what you listen to afterwards is dictated by how the team does, right?

BM: The music I like to listen to before Ravens games are generally songs that are related to the Ravens and our stadium. There are certain songs from Eminem, The White Stripes, Nelly, U2, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and a few others that are all sort of Baltimore’s “theme songs” on Ravens gameday. Hearing those songs before a Ravens game just makes you think about football and why you love it so much. Other artists I like to listen to by personal preference before a game would be 2pac, B.I.G., Pink Floyd, The Who, and some others.

Generally after a game, it needs to be quiet and try to get yourself back to neutral. If you love this sport as much as I do, a three hour long Ravens game can take alot out of you. If there is anything in particular I will listen to after a Ravens game, it would be Crosby Stills and Nash, Beattles, Grand Funk and maybe some hip-hop.

SOP: Lastly, what’s good around Baltimore these days? Any good bands or clubs to suggest, places to eat, or things off the beaten path that folks need to check out when visiting the city?

BM: Oh man, Baltimore is an absolute buzz right now with the way the Orioles are playing and now that the beloved Ravens are back in action. The weekend night life has been great around areas such as Towson, Federal Hill, Canton, and Fells Point. Aren’t too many bands I know of around Baltimore right now, but you can always find a band playing at places such as Sonar, Fish Head Cantina, or the 8 x 10, all located in the downtown area.

If you are coming through Baltimore, as everyone always says, you have to find yourself a good crab cake. My top 2 suggestions would be G & M restaurant in Linthicum Heights or Obyicki’s in downtown Baltimore. Another place to stop for great food would be Chap’s Pit Beef right off the Pulaski Highway. If you are a red meat fan, this is the place to be.

As always, the Baltimore National Aquarium is a great place to visit. If you can make it over to Camden Yards and catch an Orioles game, that is always a good time. Cheap tickets and one of the best stadiums in all of professional sports. Other than than, just walking around the Inner Harbor can always be fun and just doing whatever you would like.

Go Ravens.


One Comment on “ACROSS ENEMY LINES: THE RAVENS & BALTIMORE”

  1. National Aquarium says:

    Thanks for mentioning us in your post!


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