As in past years, I have given a number of Ravens a grade from +3 to -3 reflecting how much my expectation of their impact on the 2013 Ravens changed based on their performance Thursday. I don’t rate starters, players who have no place on the team, or anyone for whom I don’t think I have any data for a judgment. The players here are new to the team, rookies, on the cusp of making the team, have new responsibilities in 2013, in positional battles, or otherwise have something to prove this season.
Individual Grades and Notes
Anthony (+2): In the opener, he was visible for the wrong reasons, but he played well versus the Falcons. My notes on him, good and bad:
- (Q3, 11:13) He stopped Smith for 2-yard run with containment help from Arthur Jones.
- (Q3, 7:56) He registered a PD in coverage of James Rodgers 7 yards from the LoS between the numbers and left hash.
- (Q4, 6:40) The Ravens overloaded the OLS and Anthony came as a free runner to knock down Renfree. The pass was well short and outside of the receiver and Trawick missed a diving interception attempt.
- (Q4, 6:13) He was flagged for a 17-yard pass interference on Sales between the numbers and right hash.
- (Q4, 2:00) Anthony had good coverage on Cloherty between the numbers and right hash and got his hands on a ball thrown well behind the receiver.
- (Q4, 1:56) On the very next play, 4th and 5, Anthony hacked the ball loose from Cloherty approximately 4 yards past the sticks.
The next game would be the opportunity to give him some playing time against the 1s, possibly by alternating series with Chykie Brown.
Bajema (0): Billy had a single catch for 18 yards, 16 of which was YAC. He also missed 2 blocks (Q2, 13:25 and 5:04) in just a handful of snaps. Why does it seem like the Ravens’ last good blocking TE was Ben Coates?
Brown, Arthur (+1): Brown made his presence felt on consecutive plays in the second quarter. He penetrated unblocked to take down Rodgers for a loss of 4 (Q2, 7:33) and bolted past the block of Coffman to blow up a screen for Rodgers that went for a loss of 6 as Elam cleaned up. He got caught in the wash attempting to cover Smith on a 22-yard screen right (0 + 22 YAC).
Brown, Chykie (-1): Brown had another forgettable outing that included an illegal contact penalty to convert 2nd and 14 on the Falcons first drive (Q1, 13:39). What made that play worse was the fact the he lost Roddy White after committing the foul.
Bynes (0): He had 5 tackles, but was pancaked by Blalock (Q1, 5:41) on Jackson’s 11-yard run right.
Canty (+1): I won’t bother rating him further, but he slipped by Reynolds outside to record a QH (Q2, 13:38) and I do not have any noted errors in run defense.
Cody (+1): He held his ground and his feet much better than in the first game. The best example (Q2, 8:15) resulted in a takedown of Rodgers for a gain of 1.
Dumervil (NR): He had 3 pressures in less than 10 snaps as a pass rusher, all versus RT Lamar Holmes. Based on his usage to date, most of his rushes this season should come with the Ravens in the nickel, with a 4-man front, and against the RT. He was the most effective pass rusher in football rushing from the ORS last season with 20% pressures in over 100 such snaps. That effectiveness, coupled with Thursday’s results are the best reasons for optimism about his play this season.
Elam (+1): Elam had a solid night with 6 tackles in extended play. Coupled with Ihedigbo’s foolish penalty, I would guess Matt will start game 3.
Furstenburg (-1): It’s clear he won’t make this team as a blocker. He was unable to stay to the body of a Falcon whose number I did not record (Q3, 1:35) which allowed Berry to be taken down for a loss of 1. He stayed in to help provide ample time and space (ATS) on Taylor’s TD to Mellette.
Hamilton (+1): He had another active game as a defender with a pressure (Q4, 6:08) to force an incomplete and a number of fine run plays:
- (Q3, 12:29) He pursued across the formation to take down Smith for a gain of 1.
- (Q3, 6:04) He held the edge vs. Toilolo and took down James for a gain of 3.
- (Q4, 7:23) He held the right edge well and forced Russell outside where he was taken down for no gain by Omar Brown.
He also missed a tackle on James (Q3, 7:22) which resulted in a gain of 13.
Huff (-1): Despite 3 tackles, Huff didn’t make my notes. That’s not a good thing in a game where Jimmy Smith was burned as badly as he was.
Ihedigbo (-1): He was flagged for unnecessary roughness although White appeared to be the last retaliator. Those sort of penalties don’t sit well with Harbaugh.
Jackson (+2): Let’s talk about that punt return (Q4, 6:35) first. The announcers mentioned a wall of blockers on the play, but there were really just 2 effective blocks visible along with a mass of Falcons over-pursuing the play. Bryant made a solid block on WR Rodgers, but the most significant block was delivered by Mellette, who held off punter Bosher for several seconds as Jackson scooted by along the sidelines.
As a corner, Jackson appears smaller than his listed 5’10”, 190. He had good coverage on Johnson (Q4, 4:42) and again on the game’s final play (Q4, 0:04), both of which were incomplete. He otherwise kept receivers in front of him on 3 final-drive completions, the first 2 of which resulted in gains of 11 and 12 (Q4, 1:21 and Q4, 0:51), but in-bounds tackles that wasted 51 seconds. His last completion allowed was for 6 yards (Q4, 0:09) to Evans who got out of bounds. He got away playing soft on Johnson (Q4, 6:18) when Renfree overthrew him 20 yards downfield near the left hash.
Juszczyk (0): He ran the naked boot effectively with Taylor (Q3, 2:54) for a gain of 15 (0 + 15 YAC). Juszczyk is the antithesis of Vonta Leach whose style is based on building and conserving momentum until impact. Juice looked tentative as a lead blocker, particularly when he tiptoed to the LoS (Q3, 0:59) on Berry’s run left for a gain of 1.
McClellan (0): He had an up-and-down game Thursday that included a missed tackle in the backfield on Vaughn’s 20-yard run (Q3, 9:00). However, his hustle play to strip (the forced fumble was credited to Ihedigbo) the football from Davis and subsequent recovery (Q2, 0:23) denied the Falcons a scoring opportunity.
McPhee (-1): He’s struggling to hold the edge as an OLB (example Q2, 11:26) and I don’t see him succeeding in terms of the coverage responsibilities there. He provided pressure that forced Davis to elevate his screen to Rodgers and that allowed Brown to blow up the play for a loss of 6. The team doesn’t require 6 guys who can play OLB and they currently have Upshaw, Dumervil, Suggs, Simon, Hamilton, and McClellan (if he were required to return there due to injury) who all seem like they could be effective. Conversely, players who can rush the passer from the inside are the NFL’s version of unicorns.
Mellette (+2): He caught a 40-yard TD from Tyrod Taylor (Q4, 13:37) and made 1 of 2 key blocks on Jackson’s punt return (see above).
Rainey (0): He didn’t make my notes this game.
Reid (-1): The entire starting offensive line had a bad game collectively. He was beaten outside for a sack by the stunting Worrilow (Q3, 14:23) and contributed to the Ravens’ total of 16 yards on 11 rushes while he was in.
Shipley (-3): He got his shot with the first team and he’d have probably rather wet his pants in public than turn in the performance he did. Nonetheless, he did some things well. He had 3 blocks in level 2 and delivered 2 pancakes. In 18 non-penalty snaps, he missed a screen block (Q1, 11:23), was beaten left by Babineaux for a shared penetration (Q1, 1:38) and was pancaked by Peters who set up a stunt by effectively crossing Reid’s face (Q2, 2:09). Scoring: 18 plays, 15 blocks, 2 misses, ½ penetration, 1 face mask, 1 false start, 2 points (.11 per play). There is no sugar coating a score like that, but he wasn’t bulled and showed good ability to pin and move to level 2. The penalties weren’t a result of getting beat, so they should be correctable. Gradkowski has earned the game-3 start, but I expect Shipley will still make the team.
Simon (+1): He beat Savoie with a slow-motion spin move inside for a 6-yard sack (Q4, 14:22). Simon chased Davis from the pocket left (Q3, 7:50) which resulted in an 8-yard run. He also set the edge more effectively than in the opener.
Smith, Daryl (+2): Smith had success as an OLB in coverage at Jacksonville, but has barely played since he was 29 (2011). Thursday he made several plays which could be taken as evidence that his coverage skills are still intact:
- (Q1, 15:00) He immediately took down Coffman after a 5-yard reception to the right.
- (Q1, 12:35) He and Suggs converged to close down the screen left to Douglas for a gain of 3.
- (Q2, 13:49) He stripped Ryan’s pass to Coffman for a PD 11 yards downfield between the numbers and the right hash.
The only negative note I recorded on Smith was him getting caught in the wash on Jackson’s 11-yard run right (Q1, 5:40)
Smith, Jimmy (-2): He was beaten regularly by Julio Jones, one of the NFLs most explosive receivers. Some of that came playing too soft as his opponent cut, which created large windows. It’s typical to discount second-half preseason performances as occurring against “future grocery clerks”. I think it’s equally important to acknowledge that Smith just faced as tough an opponent as he will at any time this season and was left on an island. Predictably, the results were not pretty.
Spears (-1): He did not play after a 5-snap opener. He’s 30 and hasn’t been truly effective against the run since 2010 per PFF. Of all the bargain free agents the Ravens signed, I’m most skeptical of the return on him.
Streeter (-1): Mellette and Reed are both ahead of him on the depth chart at this point. The Ravens threw just 18 times on Thursday and Streeter was one of several receivers who was not targeted.
Wagner, Rick (+2): He has looked very good in 2 games. As I scored it Thursday: 22 snaps, 21 blocks, 1 pressure, 19 points (.86 per play). He didn’t have a negative event or missed block until his last snap (Q4, 7:52) when he was bulled into Taylor’s face as the QB threw the short TD pass to Doss. He otherwise manhandled his opponents as a pass blocker. On the previous play (Q4, 8:20), he threw down the penetrating Huynh (leaving him to be covered by pulling RG McClain) and moved to level 2 to execute a pancake as Berry ran behind him for 2 yards. He could be made a developmental player with a mysterious injury, but I think it’s more likely the Ravens will carry Wagner, 2 centers and 5 other linemen (McKinnie, Osemele, Yanda, Oher, Reid) all of whom who have played some tackle at the NFL level). Because he is in his 4th season, I would guess Ramon Harewood is the man likely to be cut or traded.
Williams, Brandon (+1): He again flowed well to the ball and was credited with 4 tackles. Through 2 games, he has the look of a high-tackle-rate NT in the mold of Kelly Gregg as opposed to a pure 2-gap space eater.
Wiliams, LaQuan (-2): He extended a drive by running into the punter (Q4, 7:25). Each of the 3 times he was targeted, something went amiss:
- (Q3, 14:28) Standing at the sticks on 2nd down, he failed to break back on the ball and allowed a near interception by Franks.
- (Q3, 9:21) He mistimed his leap with the defender turned and was unable to haul in a pass by the left sideline. Franks helped dislodge the ball, but Williams had the opportunity for a fine play.
- (Q3, 0:21) He executed an unexpected double move which would have left him open over the top, but Taylor read the break (or knew the route called) and Franks stepped underneath for the interception.