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C.J. Mosley is up for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and more with Baltimore Beatdown

We talked to Baltimore Beatdown's Matthew Stevens ahead of Sunday' game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens.

Jason Miller

1) Your running game hasn't missed a step since Ray Rice was removed from the team. How is it that your ground attack is so productive, and can you teach the Bucs that trick?

Really, this is the offensive line at work there. When watching the Ravens do their thing on the ground, you see the offensive line pave the way with relative ease. In short yardage situations, you see the offensive line run for the first down and then some, making it far easier for the running back to just follow the herd for the first.

It also is no coincidence that the Ravens were looking to refine their zone blocking scheme and they brought in Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator this offseason. The more simplified scheme is allowing Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro to all make a single cut and either turn on the afterburners or lower their shoulder to get extra yards. All three of those backs are talented, but the scheme is ultimately the difference from last year and this year regardless of Ray Rice being on the team.

2) How has C.J. Mosley looked so far? What about the other rookies on your team?

C.J. Mosley really has looked every part of his first round status. Last week in a sloppy loss against the Colts, Mosley turned in his best performance to date and truly is in the running for DROY honors if he keeps it up.

The Ravens aren't a team that heavily relies on their rookies for production, so we haven't seen a ton of the other young guns around as much. Terrence Brooks appears to be getting more playing time over a struggling Darian Stewart. Lorenzo Taliaferro has done exceptionally well in his limited time on the field, gaining 167 yards on only 38 carries (mostly through weeks three and four) and looks like he might be able to be a feature back for the Ravens in the coming years. Timmy Jernigan has been a good rotational player for Haloti Ngata. From the 2014 class, the Ravens are seeing decent production out of 4 out of 9 players with one of them being on IR and the other being a backup quarterback. So you have to hand it to Ozzie Newsome for another top notch draft.

3) Are there any unknown players we should look out for in Sunday's game?

I think by now in the season, the players that will make a positive impact on the game have already distinguished themselves enough to be known. However, relative unknown players to keep and eye out for would be Mosley and Taliaferro. As I mentioned before, Mosley had his best game of the season last week and is likely looking to top it this week. Taliaferro on the other hand is currently third on the depth chart now that Bernard Pierce is healthy again, but the situation remains fluid each week, with the Ravens loving the combination of power and speed he brings. If he can get some meaningful snaps, look for the rookie to try and stand out from the crowded backfield.

4) How is Steve Smith still doing what he does?

Ha ha, ain't that the truth!? Steve Smith is one of those players that seemingly gets better every year regardless of his age and I think a lot of that has to do with him relying less on his physical tools and relying more on proper technique and some of his veteran savvy. Crisp routes and coming back to the ball has meant that the old guy is getting open fairly often and his relatively sure hands means that he is catching most of what comes his way, even in traffic. Then his speed, agility and attitude are what is allowing him to have one of the better YAC stats in the league. Not to mention that this Ravens team, while incredibly talented in the receiving corps, is still plagued by the drops. Meaning that a sure handed guy like Steve Smith has gained the immediate affection and trust of quarterback Joe Flacco.

5) Care to predict the game?

I am wildly off nearly every single game, so I hope I can finally come a little closer to the final score. I think the Ravens defense comes back strong this week and can hold the Bucs run game to little yardage while showing Mike Glennon some serious pressure, hopefully leading to some turnovers. Offensively, I think the Ravens try and run it down the Bucs' throat all game long. Keep the pace and the time of possession on their side (unlike what they did against the Colts) and get back to what has won them games... Flacco making high efficiency passes off play action and roll outs to keep drives going. However, this does have all the makings of the Ravens annual trap game where they get dominated by a team that they really shouldn't be beat by.

At the end of the game, I suspect the Ravens win. Ravens 31 - Bucs 14