Last night’s preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Lions was long and boring. Adding to the misery for the local faithful was the rain, a loss, an accompanying loss by the Orioles to another Detroit team and the fact that fans paid full price thus adding insult to injury.
Speaking of which the Ravens emerged relatively unscathed from the injury bug with just a couple of sprained ankles (LaQuan Williams, Vonta Leach), a burner (Sergio Kindle) and a hip contusion (Ricky Brown).
Without further ado, let’s make this as a pain-free as possible…
THE GOOD: The Ravens seem comfortable operating out of the no huddle and if memory serves me correctly, the Joe Flacco lead offense has had next to no huddles so far this preseason after a drive has started. The tactic keeps defenses on the field and makes it difficult for opponents to make situational substitutions. It also helps to tame a pass rush and that looks like something the Ravens offensive line is going to need…Flacco looked solid overall except for a short pass out to the right intended for Billy Bajema that hit Lions’ DE Cliff Avril right in the chest. His numbers won’t show it (QB Rating of 78.1) but the night could have been much better had Jacoby Jones held on to an excellent back shoulder throw that would have gone for 20+ and a drop from LaQuan Williams that could have gone for an 18 yard scoring strike.
Overall Williams had a solid game, particularly on a toe tapping sideline pickup of 12. Anquan Boldin looked sharp in limited action. Damien Berry is making a case to stick on the 53 man roster. He had the best run on the night amongst all RB’s with a physical burst for 11. He also added 59 yards on 6 catches…The Ravens are clearly a faster team this season and on display last night was the speed of Jacoby Jones and Deonte Thompson. Jones went 35 yards on a reverse (aka the Cam Cameron Special) while Thompson gets by defenders and looks to be a threat in the return game.
Paul Kruger was active with a diving knock down of a Matt Stafford pass that could have been a third down conversion and he was solid at the point of attack in the running game. He was also one of the few plus contributors in a rather anemic Ravens’ pass rush…Nigel Carr was active and menacing – perhaps a bit too much at times. He had a costly roughing the passer penalty that kept a Lions’ drive alive and his holding penalty nullified an electrifying 85 yard punt return for a score by Asa Jackson…Omar Brown continues to be Johnny-on-the-spot with a fumble recovery and the recovery of an onsides kick.
Speaking of kicks, Billy Cundiff hit from 33 and 44 yards out while Justin Tucker kept the lead in this duel connecting on 45 and 50 yards and then added a beautifully executed onsides kick. The pair accounted for all of the Ravens scoring.
THE BAD: Jacoby Jones can obviously put himself in position to make plays. He needs to learn to finish them more consistently but something tells me, that’s just Jacoby. He’s just going to frustrate you from time to time as he did with his first quarter drop of a beautifully placed pass from Flacco…Anthony Allen provided more incentive for the Ravens to hand him a pink slip. He just looks lost…Sean Considine, c’mon man! You have over-the-top responsibility in Cover 2 and Calvin Johnson is on your side, Stafford is locked in on him from the snap and he delivers a high arching pass that nearly touched the rainclouds and you’re still late?…The pass rush was so lame that I wondered if Roger Goodell enforced a new rule to protect quarterbacks forcing defenders to count to 7 Mississippi before they rushed…On the flip side, it’s a good thing Flacco ran the no huddle offense. He might still be on the M&T carpet if not. The offensive front also failed in dramatic style to open up any holes in the running game…Emmanuel Cook’s tackling on Titus Young helped pave the way to a 24 yard scoring strike for the Lions…These replacement refs are ridiculously unqualified.
THE UGLY: Tyrod Taylor and Curtis Painter combined to connect on 18 of 42 passes for 151 yards and an interception for a QB rating of 42.9. Painter delivered balls recklessly and should have had another pick or two. Taylor couldn’t hit a bear in the ass with a snow shovel…The Ravens converted only 2 of 15 third down attempts…The defense gave up 6.1 yards per rush on 27 attempts and 507 total net yards. They couldn’t cover Calvin Johnson with a blanket. He had 5 catches for 111 yards and a score in less than a half day of work…Matt Stafford had a field day (and a pizza while waiting for receivers to get open) on his way to a 145.2 QB rating…What are John Harbaugh and Jerry Rosburg thinking when sending Lardarius Webb out to return a punt in a preseason game? Seriously?
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: Asa Jackson has shown during OTA’s, training camp and now in the preseason that he belongs on the Ravens 53 man roster. Together with Jones and Deonte Thompson, he helps provide speed that the Ravens have rarely assembled and for Jackson it was on display yesterday when he returned a punt for 85 yards for an apparent TD, later nullified by a Nigel Carr holding penalty. Despite is under-sized frame Jackson supported the run well, displayed great technique while knocking down a pass and even contributed a special teams tackle. The pickings were slim for the MFA but that doesn’t diminish Jackson’s contributions on a long, wet and boring Friday night.