One of the big criticisms of Dean Pees has been the lack of creativity and deception from the blitzes he orchestrates. In particular, the timing of the blitzing defenders has been an issue. In the past, they have declared their move too soon, enabling opposing quarterbacks to make an adjustment well before the snap.
Today, the timing of the blitzes was picture perfect. So much so that blitzing linebackers were able to account for four uncontested QB hurries. The defenders did a great job of anticipating the snap, and the offense had no ability to adjust in time…
While Haloti Ngata wasn’t one of the defenders reigning terror from a two-point stance, he did make a strong impression rushing from the right and left defensive end spots. Ngata was active with his hands and showed a good spin move to counter the blocks he faced. He got into the backfield a couple of times, and overall, looked very Ngata-like.
With Brandon Williams working mostly on the ball as the nose tackle, Ngata looked more in his element and free to roam. Gaining Williams’ ability to play the nose to give Ngata new life is one of the plus points in losing Art Jones.
CAMP BATTLES: WHO STOOD OUT IN THE RACES?
Chykie Brown: It was very much an up and down day for Brown. While he was beat on a deep sideline pattern by Torrey Smith earlier in the day, he made up for that play by tightening the screws on Steve Smith on another ‘nine’ route. Brown worked outside most of the day and was also able to break on the ball a few times. If the DBs were allowed to hit, he would have had a couple of tackles too.
Asa Jackson: Brown’s counterpart in the race, Jackson handled a lot of slot nickel duties. He looked good turning and running out of his backpedal. In addition to covering the slot receiver one-on-one, he also helped the linebackers defend tight ends over the middle.
Justin Forsett: It’s tough to determine the performance levels of the tailbacks without pads, but Forsett stands out for his change of direction alone. He does a great job of stopping and starting, setting the defender up with a move to the outside, only to dart back inside. With Ray Rice’s looming two-game suspension, he’ll get more opportunities to rotate with Bernard Pierce.
SCOUTING REPORT OF THE DAY: PERNELL MCPHEE
McPhee is an intriguing player on defense that got lost in the shuffle last season. Given his move last year to the OLB position, it’s interesting to see his transition from an on-the-line player to a standup linebacker. Today, he was very active working with the first, second, and third teams.
McPhee is known for his rush skills but he was mostly defending the run today. All in all, his performance was hit or miss. There were a couple of times he lost contain in his edge responsibility and running backs were able to cut back to his side. There was also a play in which McPhee was handled by rookie Crockett Gilmore on an off-tackle blocking play. Gilmore was able to drive McPhee backward to create a lane.
However, when McPhee plays aggressively and engages his man, he has the ability to use his strong hands to stack and shed the block violently. All in all, McPhee will need more chances to play from a three-point position to be at his most effective.
THE UNDRAFTED ROOKIE SPOTLIGHT PLAYER
Yesterday was a good day for rookie cornerback Tramain Jacobs from Texas A&M. He flashed good ball skills and anticipation. Today, he also made his presence felt on a deflection of a Joe Flacco pass attempt.
On the play, Marlon Brown was the target over the middle and Flacco’s throw was late, causing Brown to turn his body to adjust. Jacobs not only pounced on the ball, but he was able to show his physical ability to come over the top of Brown and separate him from the football.
The play was a good illustration of what can happen if the timing between Flacco and his receivers is off. It was also a good illustration of Jacobs having a nose for the football.
Other rookie, first-year, and second-year player notes:
- Brent Urban had his struggles today, as he was baited offsides by Flacco once and nearly jumped a second time. However, he does show a good burst coming off the ball and he was able to get penetration into the backfield during 11-on-11 drills.
- Jeremy Butler continued his steady play, snagging a couple of comeback routes.
- Size wise, receiver Kamar Aiken also stands out and looks like a big possession target.
- And lastly, second-year player David Mims looks like a Jared Gaither clone (physically at least). He is big, lean, and has the physique of a power forward. He looked good dropping back out of a three-point stance in pass blocking situations – not an easy feat for a guy as long as Mims.