We looked sloppy. But what else would you expect from a ball club who missed all of their OTAs and minicamps? Ravens fans, don’t forget that Philly didn’t play much better and had it not been for the lone Mike Vick TD we wouldn’t be as critical of our team.
That’s what it comes down to. We want touchdowns by our offense. We Baltimoreans have lived off of defense and field goals since 1996 and as much success as we have had by that method we get excited with our first true franchise quarterback, his wide array of weapons, and the hopes that we can see a high scoring offensive juggernaut that many other cities such as New England and Green Bay are home to.
So let’s examine the good things we saw – or at least those I saw, before we focus in on the bad.
First up our first team offense seemed to be as solid as you could hope for after limited reps and practice. Flacco went 3 for 6 with 60 yards, not bad for only a few snaps. Flacco hit Dennis Pitta right out of the gate for a big gain with Pitta making a Heap like catch as he jumped and reached down over the defensive back to snag the ball for a first down.
Ray Rice had some nice carries running behind his new best friend Vonta Leach and that aspect of the offense will only get better as the offensive line shuffle we saw on Thursday night and have heard about through all of camp pans itself out. But again with only playing a few downs you can’t be too critical or make that good of an assessment.
Although our defense did not play great our first through third stringers still held the Eagles to only 13 points.
That’s pretty damn good!
One bright spot was newly acquired Safety Bernard Pollard who had 2 pass defenses, an interception and a couple of tackles. Pollard was all over the field and looked great in coverage, staying tight on his man without being to physical or playing too cautiously. Our corners looked ok at best in my opinion, they seemed to play too "loose" as I would describe it, giving up to many plays rather than pushing on their match up and applying the pressure you need to when you play man coverage. Lardarius Webb had a nice, what looked to be, fumble recovery that he took all the way to the house and would have been a touchdown had it not been ruled as an incomplete pass.
My favorite player on the night would have to be Paul Kruger who constantly dominated the Eagles offensive line as he seemed to be in the backfield on every play. Kruger finished up with 4 tackles and a sack in a very dominating performance. Even though it’s early in preseason and many of these guys are either working through rust or still trying to find their groove at the pro level, I think Kruger showed some serious promise as to what he can bring to the table if given the chance in a regular season game.
Next up is Dennis Pitta, who as i mentioned earlier had a stellar grab to start the game off strong for the Ravens, sadly, that drive would end in a 53 yard Billy Cundiff field goal (which i think is pretty good to get from our kicker). Pitta finished with 4 grabs for 47 yards as he caught balls from 2 different QB’s. We have heard all through camp how impressive Ed Dickson has looked, but given Dickson’s recent injury Pitta is not wasting his chance to prove he to can be the number one tight end.
As for the bad I’ll keep it short because it is preseason and I don’t think we should bite down too hard on the negatives. It is because of small mistakes, like we saw tonight, why they play these games. Of course a win is nice but fixing the problems now so that they win in the regular season is even better.
First off the tackling needs to improve, and I’m sure it will. I’m not saying this in a condescending or nagging way I’m just stating the obvious. I have the utmost faith that it will be fixed by week 1. Chuck Pagano said in a pregame interview that he wants the Ravens to be the best tackling team in the NFL and I think we can believe him when he tells us that it will end up that way. I saw some nice hits tonight and great pressure, we had a number of guys breaking into the backfield and causing havoc for 2 very good scrambling quarterbacks in Mike Vick and Vince Young. Seeing these first, second and third stringers regularly get at the quarterback shows promise that the franchise worst 27 sacks we saw last year will be greatly improved this season once our guys get their timing and mechanics fluid in the tackling aspect.
I was listening to 105.7 The Fan on the way home after watching the game at The Olde Philadelphia Inn as Rob Long and Bob Haynie were discussing that you really can’t "grade" individuals or the team that hard based on all the hindrances caused by the lockout. However for the sake of trying to give my thoughts on the night I would give the Ravens a Solid C. I know i know "way to give really weigh in and give us an opinion" but let’s be honest here. We were not "wowed" on offense and the defense did not dominate the game. We saw some great plays on both sides of the ball and some not so great plays. I think there were too many penalties committed by the O and the D, but that is something else that time will fix.
So in closing I think a C fits, I think the Ravens gave us something to look forward to and I think they will build on the positives and correct the negatives in time for next week, and even then it won’t be perfect, but we will all be watching and cheering as they continue to work things out in time for the regular season opener against division rivals Pittsburgh.