Saturday night’s win against the Dallas Cowboys was not nearly as impressive of an outing for the offense compared to the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers, but it was still a positive performance nonetheless.
After a preseason debut in which the starting offense marched down the field in dominating fashion for a touchdown in Week 1, both the starters and backups showed more inconsistencies during their trip to Dallas.
There’s plenty to dissect, but also plenty to build upon as the Ravens have reached to midway point of the 2014 preseason.
1. Joe Flacco’s accuracy was spotty, but he looked comfortable on quick-hitting pass plays.
Outside of his beautiful touchdown pass down the sideline to Torrey Smith, most of Joe Flacco’s passes in the intermediate and deeper passing game were off target.
He often looked flustered and thrown off, either by lack of protection or coverage downfield.
Where Flacco did excel, though, was when it came to short, quick-release pass plays, something that was a question mark for him heading into the new offensive scheme.
Whether it was a quick pass to Kyle Juszczyk out of the backfield or a slant to Jacoby Jones, Flacco’s quick throws were mostly on target and out of his hand on time.
Those types of pass plays will be staples of Gary Kubiak’s offense, and through two games, it looks like Flacco is adjusting well to the new passing duties.
2. Where is Michael Campanaro?
We saw rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro in extended fashion on special teams – three punt returns, one kick return – but where was he on offense?
He hardly touched the field as a receiver, and when he did, it was during the fourth quarter. He failed to catch a pass in the first preseason game, and didn’t even receive a target in his most recent outing.
The lack of production isn’t a slight on Campanaro – he is hardly even touching the field on offense, let alone getting involved.
What’s more important is why his role in the offense has been limited so far.
Perhaps the coaching staff simply doesn’t think he is ready to contribute yet at wide receiver. Or maybe the coaches are limiting him since they know he is an assumed roster lock, so giving roster bubble players more opportunities may be more important.
Whatever the team has in store for Campanaro, it would be nice to see him get more involved on offense in the final two preseason games, as he is a talented enough receiver to contribute on offense during the 2014 regular season if needed.
3. We finally got to see a bit of John Urschel, who moved up the depth chart.
In the first preseason game, fifth-round pick John Urschel was buried on the offensive line depth chart, working with the third-team offense at right guard and hardly touching the field.
But thanks in part to a poor first game by fellow guard Ryan Jensen, Urschel was able to move himself up to the second-team offense for the game against Dallas.
Urschel didn’t display anything noteworthy per se, but he did have a good block on a Lorenzo Taliaferro goal line touchdown run.
Don’t expect any contribution from Urschel this season, but it was a good sign to see he was able to work his way up the depth chart already.
4. The offensive line wasn’t as good as the first game, but still showed positive signs.
Overall, the performance of the offensive line – particularly the starters – was fairly average against the Cowboys. After a strong performance from the starters in the first preseason game, the unit had some slip-ups in pass protection during their second dress rehearsal, allowing Flacco to be hurried on multiple occasions.
The run game was still successful with the starting line, though, and through two games, there isn’t any reason to think that the run game won’t be improved this season, thanks to both improved blocking and better running back play.
The second-team offensive line looked about the same as the week before, although the third-team linemen did not fair well at all.
Much of the fourth quarter was painful to watch from a blocking standpoint, and one player who didn’t do himself any favors was rookie Parker Graham, a former offensive tackle playing guard for the Ravens. Graham – as was the case for much of the rest of the third-team linemen – looked outmatched on several plays.
It’s nothing to fret about, however, since Jensen is the only one of the group that has any inherent chance of being on the final roster anyway.
5. It was another productive night for the backfield.
As was the case in the first game, the running game was diverse in ball carriers, with Taliaferro carrying the workload again. Both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce played well early in the game, particularly Pierce.
Rice only received two carries, but what’s blatantly obvious with him is his recent weight loss, which is a sign that we should see a quicker #27 this season.
Taliaferro was a one-speed runner as usual, but did show some decisive cuts.
While the running backs performed well again, can somebody put an end to the fumbling issue? Taliaferro and Justin Forsett each fumbled on Saturday night, while Pierce and Forsett each coughed the ball up against San Francisco.
Hold on to the damn ball!