Baltimore, a town known for crab cakes with a football team known for its defense, changed its identity in one, swift, dominating swoop.
Baltimore is now firmly on the offensive.
The Ravens’ new-look, no-huddle offense gave the Bengals a free clinic Monday night, racking up 430 yards in a 44-13 rout. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked like a man possessed as he finished 21-of-29 and chilled on the sideline for the final eight minutes with the game out of reach.
According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens were in the hurry-up on 36.2-percent (21-of-58) of their offensive plays. And Flacco described the Ravens’ offense as “100 percent no-huddle.”
Either way, the quick-strike attack is sure to pose a problem for the Eagles, a team that likes to rotate defensive linemen in and out to keep them fresh.
“A lot of people question, how are you going to defend with this rotation you got?,” Trent Cole said. “Trust me, we have an answer. I believe in my heart we have an answer. Some guys are going to have to stay out there longer, but we know those guys that are staying out there longer are going to get the job done.”
When asked specifically how they would rotate guys, Jason Babin replied, “There’s unique ways to substitute, we’ll leave it at that.”
Babin’s comment was telling since it came on the day coach Andy Reid barred reporters from attending practices. Previously, the Eagles had allowed the media to view the team at work Thursdays and Fridays. The new policy is in line with 27 other NFL teams, according to Reid.
“My No. 1 priority here is to win football games and to put the best product on the field,” Reid said.
What to watch for Sunday
1. Can they keep up? Jim Washburn’s defensive line prides itself on attacking the ball on every snap. They’re aggressive, relentless — and they stay fresh by rotating in a batch of 8-9 linemen. Problem is, against the Ravens’ no-huddle attack, it’s going to be very hard to keep subbing.
2. All eyes on Vick Mike Vick is 5-0 dating back to last season. Marty Mornhinweg made sure to point that out. However, Vick has taken a lot of hits and thrown a ton of picks in his last two seasons. He can look superb, like that throw to Maclin down the sideline — or atrocious, like that cross-body pick. Which Vick is going to show up? Will he play all four quarters?
3. Receiving the call Jeremy Maclin looks to be game-time call, with a bum hip. DeSean Jackson sat out Thursday with a sore hamstring. That doesn’t bode well for the Birds, who lack little depth at WR. With Riley Cooper out, that leaves Damaris Johnson, Jason Avant and Mardy Gilyard.