Report Card Titans 25 Ravens 10

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QUARTERBACK  1/2

Anthony Wright can at times appear to be a very competent QB, particularly when he has time to throw as was the case early in the second half.  He developed a nice little rhythm on the team’s first couple of second half possessions.  But the rhythm was broken down by consecutive drops from Daniel Wilcox and Clarence Moore. 

And then it happens.

While making a throw into coverage that had no business being thrown, the Titans’ Brad Kassell turned it into 6 points the other way.  Wright was fortunate that it didn’t happen again a few plays prior to the Ravens second touchdown of the season.  An ill advised pass to Jamal Lewis was nearly picked off and by Keith Bullock and taken the other way for another 6. 

Wright is slow into his drops at times as evidenced by the linemen tripping him.  Immediately after the Ravens produced a turnover, with first and 10 at their own 45, Wright tripped over Mulitalo for a loss of 8 only to be followed up with a sack for another loss of 8.  1:24 after the turnover, the Ravens punted.

Wright also missed an open Clarence Moore in the end zone on a post.  Moore had inside position when Wright’s pass sailed high and right.  It could have been 13-7 but the Ravens were forced to settle for 3.

RUNNING BACK

Thirteen carries for 14 yards says all that you need to know.  Thirteen of these yards came on a 3rd and 26 draw to Jamal Lewis.  Lewis looks very rusty and hesitant.  One of the Ravens staples in the running game is to have their backs cut behind zone blocking.  Lewis on a number of occasions failed to do that – something he’s done very, very well in the past.  On a third down screen pass, Lewis showed very little patience waiting for blocks and seemed to have running room to the inside of the field but instead chose to run outside where he was knocked out of bounds well short of a needed first down.  Jamal also coughed up the football at his own 25 to set the stage for the Titans’ first score and to capture the game’s momentum — something they never relinquished.

Chester Taylor should see more time in the future.  Although neither of these backs does much in the way of pass protection.  Jamal should take a page from Chris Brown’s book and stay with his block when confronted by blitzing defenders. 

RECEIVERS  1/2

You have to love Derrick Mason’s competitiveness but the theatrics after a 5 yard catch are hardly inspiring.  Great adjustment on the touchdown catch from Mason who demonstrated outstanding control in heavy traffic.  Maybe Receivers Coach David Shaw should force Clarence Moore to watch that play over and over and over and over.  Moore is less and he remains a project.  Projects should not be starters in the NFL and it’s a crime that Moore takes snaps away from Mark Clayton and Randy Hymes.

Daniel Wilcox dropped a momentum changing pass at the Ravens 45 in the third quarter on first and 10 from the 31.  Todd Heap…remember him?  Apparently the Ravens didn’t in the first half.  Dinkins and Clayton chipped in with a couple of key first downs to keep the team’s false hopes alive.

OFFENSIVE LINE

This unit seems to have experienced an accelerated aging process.  Ogden’s footwork, once his bread and butter has slowed down considerably.  He was beaten badly by Albert Haynesworth on the game’s first play from scrimmage.  Brown’s footwork, never his bread and butter, moves like his shoes are tied together.  The guys on the inside aren’t any better.  Mulitalo looks lost and clumsy against athletes in the open when he can’t make initial contact and get his hands on players. Flynn is slow to react and his snaps out of the shotgun are hardly consistent.  Vincent held his own decently but has a tendency to reach for the second level before the initial block is secure.

Even with three step drops, Wright was hit. On third and long this team has very little chance to succeed. In fact in yesterday’s contest, the Ravens were 0 for 10 when third down conversions required 7 yards or more.  They did however convert a 4th and 7.  This has almost everything to do with the pass protection (or lack thereof) provided by this group. 

Offensive line coach Chris Foerster has his work cut out for him during the next two weeks.  He comes to Baltimore from Miami where the Dolphins were tied for second in the league with sacks allowed at 52.  Last year the Ravens allowed 35 sacks, with only 11 teams allowing fewer.  This season so far, the Ravens are on track to allow 72 (9 through two games).  Only two other teams are worse.

DEFENSIVE LINE  1/2

Kelly Gregg played a very solid game and hustled all over the field.  Kemoeatu, Franklin, Johnson and Weaver also played well.  Suggs seemed to be more of a decoy and pressured McNair very little.  He often peeled back into coverage and McNair read that on one play connecting with Drew Bennett who was assigned to Suggs.  The play went for 35 yards.  Overall the D-Line was decent holding the Titans to 97 yards on 29 carries.  The only sack was credited to Rod Green who ran McNair out of bounds.  While the penetration was good, the unit does need to do a better job of actually getting to the quarterback.

LINEBACKERS

Adalius Thomas’ name was called very little and that could be an indication that the Titans went away from AD.  Tommy Polley was decent covering backs but was inconsistent in run support.  Ray Lewis really talked a big game prior to the season and even went so far to say that he would be the league MVP.  He won’t be – not at this rate.  While Lewis made 9 tackles on average they came after gains of nearly 9 yards.  Blockers still get to Ray and he doesn’t shed them or avoid them well.  In the open field against backs on screen plays, he was hardly a sure tackler.  On the big run from Chris Brown to set up the Titans’ first touchdown, Ray was completely taken out of the inside run.  Twice Ray made tackles for 2 yard gains with assistance.  That is hardly the production you look for from a self-proclaimed league MVP candidate.

SECONDARY  

Chris McAlister continues to make costly mistakes at critical times.  This time it came in the form of a holding penalty in the end zone.  Demps had outside containment at the goal line on the Titans first touchdown.  Demps bit hard on the play action and fullback Troy Fleming was left wide open for an easy score.  Deion Sanders is not as effective in the slot as he is on the outside.  Samari Rolle was solid in coverage and made a play to force a turnover when he hit Chris Brown. 

McNair took advantage of the secondary’s overzealousness at times, connecting on key passes for first downs to rookies Brandon Jones and Courtney Roby.  On the good side there was better communication amongst the defensive back field although Drew Bennett was wide open for a big gain but not seen by McNair and fullback Troy Fleming was left uncovered for an easy 14 yard gain.  Ed Reed was suspiciously quiet.

SPECIAL TEAMS  1/2

The Ravens average start was their own 19 yard line.  The Titans average start was their 43.  Such a wide swing is often attributed to turnovers and special teams play.  Matt Stover’s three kicks on average landed at the Titans 7 and the average return was 34 yards.  That can’t help.  The 58 yard kick off return by Roby took away any momentum the Ravens had begun to build.

B.J. Sams had 3 punt returns totaling 5 yards and his 4 kick returns produced 76, for a 19 yard average.  Although the game was clearly decided, they did fail to get in position on their last punt which resulted in a blocked punt and two points for the Titans.  They also had 12 men on the field at the time.  Although Zastudil averaged 42.1 yards, during the times they really needed him to nail one, he did anything but that.  His 31 yard punt from the Ravens 6 helped set up the Titans for a field goal at the end of the first half.  For good measure they also chipped in with an illegal formation – on a punt!

COACHING  (for offensive and defensive halftime adjustments)

Offensively the Ravens were obviously not prepared to play.  With no first half first downs, 0 for 6 on third down conversions, 23 net yards (10 by rush and 13 by pass…I wonder if that’s the balance Billick is looking for) on 20 plays.  The Titans battle plan was obviously to stop the run at all costs on first and second downs to force the Ravens into third and long.  It worked.  When the Ravens came out in the second half throwing on first and second downs, they moved the football well.  Yet they continued to try and establish the run to no avail – again forcing unsuccessful third and long situations.

The offense also had no sense of urgency and winning did not appear to be on their minds.  How else do you explain the deliberate way they entered and exited huddles down by 20 with 11:45 to go in the fourth quarter with only 1 time out (wasted earlier on offensive confusion  — imagine that… and poor substitution on defense.)  And then with 6:35 to go, down by 13 they decide not to onsides kick despite having only one timeout left.  And what was up with that flanker option play from the 10 yard line?  For that play to be effective, you need more field to work with.
 
Defensively the Ravens matched the Titans well in the second half although it appeared that the Titans offensive game plan early on set the tone for the game.  The Titans successfully converted 5 of 9 third downs in the first half, including a third and 9, 11 and 14.  They took advantage of the Ravens aggressiveness with screens and pump fakes to keep drives alive and produce 228 net first half yards.  The Ravens did adjust well at halftime and held the Titans to 62 second half net yards.

Final Thoughts 

Does anyone know Ross Verba’s phone number?  Is Adam Terry still in town?  Jason Brown?

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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