By Abraham Gutierrez
Although the post-Ray Lewis era hasn’t gotten off to the start John Harbaugh envisioned coming out of training camp, underestimating the defending Super Bowl champs could prove to be a costly mistake for Joe Philbin this week.
Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, will be the site for a Sunday matinée between the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EST live on CBS4 (Miami).
The Difference a Year Makes
Following a 1-3 start, the inexperienced Dolphins were destined to miss the NFL playoffs, and their future in the ultra-competitive American Football Conference was a huge question mark.
In contrast, the Ravens 3-1 start would lead to the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy, solidifying Ray Lewis’ legacy, and establishing the team as one of the most balanced units the National Football League has ever seen.
A year later, the Fins are the ones making all the noise in the AFC, while the “Purple Pain” is still trying to figure out which side of the ball has suffered most through four games.
Ravens on Offense
After failing at the helm of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Caldwell found refuge in his first season as Baltimore’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
However just four games into the Ravens’ title defense, the two-time Super Bowl champ already has his work cutout.
Heading into their Week 5 showdown in Miami, Caldwell’s offense ranks 16th in the league in points scored (22.8), 28th in total yards (317.5), 13th in passing yards (253.5), and a whopping 28th in rushing yards (64.0) per game.
This week, Harbaugh pulled no punches when addressing his offense’s performance following a 20-23 loss to the Bills.
The Ravens sixth-year coach categorized the offensive line’s effort as “disappointing” and publicly ripped tight-end Ed Dickson for dropping passes in key situations.
“The stats kind of speak for themselves,” said Harbaugh. “He’s not the same player right now that he was (when he caught 54 passes in 2011).” He added, “If he has a confidence problem, that’s on him. Ed needs to catch the ball. If he’s thinking about anything besides that, he’s doing himself a disservice. You got that kind of talent and those kind of gifts, go play ball.”
Ravens on Defense
For starters, the void left by Lewis’ retirement and Ed Reed’s departure to Houston simply cannot be underestimated.
Having that said, the work that defensive coordinator Dean Pees has done, considering all the personnel changes and lack of experience, can’t be overlooked.
For almost two decades, defense has been the staple of the “Riptide Rush” and thus, it’s uncharted territory to see them outside the top-10 in any statistical category.
Nevertheless, with four weeks in the books, the Ravens “D” ranks 12th in the NFL in points allowed (21.8 ppg), 15th in total yards surrendered (345.8 ypg), 16th against opposing passing attacks (239.0 pypg) and 17th at defending the run (106.8 rypg).
“We’re not the same team we were two months ago,” Harbaugh added, “and we won’t be the same team two months from now.”
Ravens vs. Dolphins Head-to-Head
Sunday’s game will not only mark the 11th meeting between these franchises, but it’ll also serve as the rubber-match.
Although Baltimore and Miami come in with five wins apiece (5-5), the Ravens have won three straight and four of their last five meetings overall.
The last time they met dates back to November 7, 2010, when the Ravens hammered the Dolphins to the tune of 26-10.
Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 20 of his 27 pass attempts for 266 yards with two scores, while running back Ray Rice rushed 83 yards on 22 carries.
Ravens Key Offensive Players
- (QB) Joe Flacco: 97/169, 1091 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs, 69.4 QBR
- (RB) Bernard Pierce: 56 carries, 151 yards, 2 TDs
- (RB) Ray Rice: 30 carries, 89 yards, TD
- (WR) Marlon Brown: 14 catches, 150 yards, 3 TDs
- (WR) Torrey Smith: 21 catches, 435 yards, TD
- (FB) Vonta Leach: 7 catches, 37 yards, TD
Ravens Key Defensive Players
- (OLB) Terrell Suggs: 31 tackles, 16 solo, 15 assists, 4.0 sacks
- (DE) Arthur Jones: 14 tackles, 8 solo, 6 assists, 2.0 sacks
- (OLB) Elvis Dumervil: 11 tackles, 5 solo, 6 assists, 2.0 sacks
- (DT) Chris Canty: 7 tackles, 5 solo, 2 assists, 2.0 sacks
- (ILB) Daryl Smith: 37 tackles, 17 solo, 20 assists, 1½ sacks
- (DT) Haloti Ngata: 14 tackles, 6 solo, 8 assists, 1.0 sacks
For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.
Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com and its partners. His work can be found on Examiner.com. .