Baltimore Ravens: Questions Left Unanswered After Week 1
Finding fault in the Ravens 44-13 romp of the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night is a difficult task, but someone must keep the expectations grounded. To be sure, there are still several questions that the Ravens need to answer as the season continues.
From a surprisingly young offensive line to a defense that was just average last night, the Ravens still have a lot of areas that they need to improve to be real Super Bowl contenders.
Here are the questions that the Ravens are still facing after their dominant victory.
Will the Young Offensive Line Step Up?
For the most part, Joe Flacco was able to stand tall in the pocket throughout Monday night's game, but he still faced significant pressure on some downs.
The Ravens allowed three sacks, with two going to top-tier defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
If the Ravens are going to take the next step as an elite team, the offensive line needs to keep Flacco upright.
The Ravens are going to face top pass-rushers regularly this season. This week, the Ravens can look forward to facing Trent Cole and Jason Babin, and the schedule only gets harder from there.
As promising as the offensive line was, they need to continue to improve to make the Ravens a Super Bowl contender.
Will the Ravens Generate a Pass Rush from the Edge?
The Ravens generated surprising pressure on Andy Dalton last night, but it largely came from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Ngata looked to be in line for a career year, but the Ravens will still need to generate a rush from the edge to really threaten quarterbacks.
The best way for the Ravens to do that would be to get Terrell Suggs back healthy, but when he will be back remains to be seen.
Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan and Courtney Upshaw will be counted on to rush from the outside. The Ravens also showed a greater willingness to send cornerbacks on blitzes, which could help generate extra pressure.
Ultimately, though, the success of this defense will come down to whether or not the edge rushers can get it done.
Whether or not they really can is a question that remains unanswered.
Can the Ravens Stop an Elite Running Game?
The Ravens have historically locked up the Bengals running game, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis gave the Ravens some real trouble Monday night.
No play is more telling than when Green-Ellis willed his way to a touchdown in the redzone on a fourth and one. The Ravens usually lock down in these situations, but here, they let the Bengals right back into the game with a big touchdown.
Paul Kruger can shoulder a lot of the blame, as he got pushed around against the Bengals. He will need to toughen up for the Ravens to improve in this regard.
The Ravens definitely have the talent to stop the run, and they just need to make it happen.
Will the Ravens Be Finishers This Season?
Though Lee Evans' drop of the game-winning pass last season was especially difficult for Ravens fans, every year the past four years that has ended in disappointment.
The Ravens have been making excuses long enough. The talent is there to win a Super Bowl. They need to make it happen.
Now, there is a difference between the Ravens getting outplayed and the Ravens beating themselves. The past two seasons, the Ravens have beat themselves en route to an ejection from the playoffs.
This is a question that won't be answered until the end of the season, but this team looks like a mentally tougher, more disciplined team than last year's. Expect the Ravens to make the most of every chance they're given.
What those chances are and how this question will be answered will remain a mystery, though, until the Ravens' season ends.