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Grading the Ravens' first half of the season

OK, so we've finished Week 9. Week 10 starts Thursday night. However, the Baltimore Ravens, because they had their bye in Week 5, are just now halfway through their season.

Quarterback: C
Fourth-year quarterback Joe Flacco has been good enough for the Ravens to win 75 percent of their games, but he's been maddeningly inconsistent. Also, Flacco has been good for one fumble a game. It's worked out so far, but he has to improve if the Ravens want to be a serious Super Bowl contender. On the positive side, Flacco is on pace for his first-career 4,000 yard season.

Running Backs: B-
The offense goes through Ray Rice. That was one of the reasons the Ravens lost to Jacksonville. Rice has been impressive in his fourth season. Ricky Williams is a hard runner, but occasionally fumbles. Fullback Vonta Leach is advertised. Leach is a beast and loves blocking linebackers to open up holes for Rice and Williams.

Wide Receivers: C
Anquan Boldin is a star. The Ravens continue to go to Boldin in crucial situations. What's been even more impressive is the way Boldin still gets open even though most of the guys surrounding him are unproven because Lee Evans has been hurt most of the season. Rookie Torrey Smith has struggled with drops this season. Both tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, have shown growth in their second seasons with the team.

Offensive Line: C-
I know. The Ravens offensive line was good for the most part Sunday night. The problem is they've been inconsistent, which could explain Flacco's inconsistencies. With left guard Ben Grubbs back, look for the line to be much improved.

Defensive Line: B+
Led by Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding, this unit has been harassing quarterbacks all season. Terrence Cody has been a factor at nose tackle. Even guys like Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee have been getting in on the act. There have been a couple games, though, that this unit didn't do much.

Linebackers: A-
Ray Lewis is playing as well as ever. Terrell Suggs is having a monster season and Jarrett Johnson has played well. The linebacker corps has dealt with injuries all season long. They also need to improve in coverage at times.

Secondary: B
What a difference a year makes. The secondary was the weakness in the defense last season. Suddenly, they're becoming a strength. Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb have played very well. Jimmy Smith, the team's first-round draft pick, is healthy and will make an impact before too long. The secondary fought through injuries to Smith, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura. I like what I see from the back end of the defense.

Special Teams: C+
Billy Cundiff is pinning teams at their own 20-yard line. He has missed four field goals, though. Also, when he doesn't put the ball out of the end zone, the Ravens' coverage units have been poor. Punter Sam Koch is a weapon. He's one of the best punters in the NFL. With the return of David Reed, the return game has gotten better from week-to-week.

Coaching: C+
John Harbaugh has grown as a head coach. He showed that when he gave his team the entire week off during the bye week. He also made a good move when he promoted Chuck Pagano to defensive coordinator after the departure of Greg Mattison. Cam Cameron has been questioned at times this season. He has shown the ability to adjust at halftime and from game-to-game. Pagano is as advertised. The first-year coordinator is aggressive and has made lives for opposing quarterbacks miserable. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg is beginning to identify issues in kick coverages.

What do you think? Are these fair grades?


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