Teams build foundations during OTA’s, take playbooks to the field during training camp and then increase the tempo and physicality during “fake football” games.
It is then that things begin to change for some – when the threat of contact is introduced to the competitive environment.
As a result mistakes will be made and hopefully lessons learned – fertile grounds in the development process.
Here are 5 takeaways, both plus and minus, from last night’s preseason game between the Ravens and 49ers…
1. First-team Offense: Joe Flacco was precise in all phases operating behind an offensive front that controlled the line of scrimmage both in pass pro and in the running game.
2. Purposeful RB’s: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro all attacked the line of scrimmage while wasting little energy. Efficiency comes to mind.
3. Right Tackle: A big question mark heading into the offseason, Ricky Wagner has been solid throughout camp and was again against the 49ers. At this point, although it’s still early, if forced to choose between Michael Oher (assuming he was still a Raven) and Wagner up to this point in the preseason, my marker is placed firmly on the former Wisconsin Badger.
4. Justin Tucker: Simply the best kicker in the NFL and the feeling here is he’ll only get better.
5. Kubiak Factor: The pace and precision are all noticeable as is his involvement on the sidelines, something that will play a big role as the season unfolds.
1. Defensive Front: The 49ers manhandled the Ravens front 7 during the very first possession, the only one featuring Colin Kaepernick. It was hard to deny the flashbacks to the near Super Bowl XLVII collapse.
2. Pass Rush: Concerns about the team generating a pass rush without the benefit of blitzing linger.
3. Hurst: The UDFA from North Carolina looked slow and the thought of him filling in for Eugene Monroe is nightmarish. There’s a reason he was undrafted.
4. Chykie: He may as well have a bullseye on his pack and his “handsy” style of play will draw more flags than the League of Nations. Asa Jackson is simply a better player. Hopefully Ozzie Newsome is working the phones and inquiring about decent reserve corners.
5. Fumblitis: The Ravens running backs have to protect the football. This could be the result of the first real contact this summer but expect Tom Hammock to force his stable of backs to run through several strip drills during the days ahead.
• Judging from his first professional action CJ Mosley is the real deal.
• As promised by Gary Kubiak, the Ravens will run most offensive plays with their quarterback under center.
• Kyle Juszczyk is going to be a force this season. He was solid as a lead blocker and arguably has the best hands on the team.
• Kick coverage needs work.
• Tyrod Taylor is still just a college quarterback. He makes one read, locks in on it and when the play isn’t there he’s off to the races. He’s an excellent athlete, just not a NFL quarterback.