Preseason Game 3: Ravens vs. Lions 8/27/16
NFL teams face a continual battle to stay young due to cap constraints, contract optionality, future performance expectations, and injury concerns.
The Ravens should get 2016 contributions from 7 of their 11 draft picks (Stanley, Correa, Young, Moore, Dixon, Lewis, and Judon). One or more of Henry, Reynolds, and Canady may also make the team (each will find his way to IR if he doesn’t make it).
With the bountiful draft, the Ravens should be getting younger, but the service spread of the team from 2015 to 2016 tells a different story:
So the Ravens have added more veterans to go with the fine rookie class.
In some cases (Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith, Elvis Dumervil, Eric Weddle) the club has reasonable expectation of short-term contribution that will end well for the team. However, at cornerback (as an example) the club needs to consider divestiture of several veterans. Powers and Arrington provide less expected value than Young and Davis in 2016, so they should not provide difficult roster decisions in terms of the nickel. It would be disappointing however, if Powers made the team at the expense of a corner like Price or Canady, who probably won’t contribute much in 2016, but has length and has shown flashes in camp/preseason.
The defensive grades follow with offense coming tomorrow.
Individual Grades and Notes
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 2016 Ravens changed based on their performance. 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 2016, in positional battles, or have otherwise have something to prove this season. The first grade is for the game and the second is cumulative for the preseason.
Beyer, Brennan (0/0): According to the Gamebook, he only played 2 snaps on Saturday, but on one of them he held his ground with KLM to set up Judon for a tackle for no gain (Q3, 9:15).
Brooks, Terrence (-2/0): He played the entire game and made the least of the opportunity. He dropped a room-service interception (Q1, 8:53). That was bad, but I can at least take solace in the fact that was one of the few times I’ve seen him in good position with coverage over the top. I can’t find a way to sugar coat the 2 missed tackles (Q2, 14:13, and Q2, 7:08) which led to 31 extra yards.
Brown, Arthur (-1/-1): Stan White beat on Brooks for covering a running back (Q3, 1:28) on Orlovsky’s 29-yard completion (14 + 15 YAC) to Jones, but Brown was closest in coverage. Arthur contained the right edge on Onwuasor’s tackle for a loss of 4 (Q3, 0:23).
Byndom, Carrington (-1/-1): He missed the tackle on Tate (Q2, 0:51) which Levine fortunately cleaned up. I have him for 16 snaps played.
Canady (0/-2): DNP. The Ravens’ corner situation is dire. Because he’s a rookie and may not be available to start the season, he’ll probably go to IR and miss 2016. However, since street talent is difficult to obtain at CB, Canady would be a candidate to return using the team’s only short-term IR option.
Carter, Chris (-1/+2): He played both ILB and OLB on Saturday, but did not make my notes. He should have a job somewhere in the NFL, based on his versatility and special teams play. However, he’s at a crowded position with the Ravens and other players (Correa, McClellan) provide similar defensive flexibility.
Conner, Kavel (0/-1): He played ILB paired with Onwuasor, but did not make my notes.
Correa, Kamalei (-1/+2): He didn’t have a pass rush event in 18 total snaps as I have it scored and allowed Stafford to escape the pocket for an 11-yard run out of bounds on the end-of-half FG drive. He had one positive event setting the edge (Q2, 2:48).
Davis, Carl (-1/-1): Other than to note the fact he was blocked on Riddick’s 34-yard run, Davis did not make my notes in 18 snaps. His progress from 2015 has been a disappointment to date.
Davis, Will (+1/+4): He had another big game worthy of highlight review:
–(Q2, 0:13) He had good position (with Levine) covering Boldin 20 yards down the right sideline as Stafford threw incomplete.
–(Q3, 13:49) He raced off the slot to tackle Zenner for a gain of just 2. The play was well blocked and looked like it would otherwise have gone for a big gain.
–(Q3, 8:34) He worked off a block from Jones and got primary tackle credit on the WR screen right that included Judon’s big hit on Lee.
–(Q4, 4:42) He rushed delayed of the offensive left side (OLS) for a pressure as Rudock’s pass was knocked down by Wilson to force a punt.
–(Q4, 2:48) He deflected a ball intended for Quinshad Davis in the end zone. The Lions receiver was able to collect the tip, but out of bounds.
Davis has been the best Ravens CB this preseason. It’s possible he’ll have a regular role (most likely the nickel) when the season begins. If not, he’ll be the first man up at both SCB and on the outside.
Elam (N/A): His season may be over, which wipes out a positive camp and preseason. As many “pfffts” as this may elicit from Ravens fans, the team will have difficulty replacing his versatility in the secondary.
Henry (+1/+3): I have him scored for 2 pressures and 1 QH in 16 snaps. He remains in danger of a season on IR, but his chance to make the active roster improved with his play Saturday.
Judon (+1/+6): Matthew entered on the 2nd series and played rotationally until midway through the 4th quarter (45 snaps). His play is plastered all over my notes, so I’ll just give a “racing form” version of each:
–Loses edge to Decker on Abdullah’s RR11
–Backs up Reiff and knocks off RT’s helmet for pressure, flush
–Loses left edge to TE Wick, but recovers for tackle on RL6
–Misses tackle on Wick (bad angle) on PL14 (2 + 12 YAC)
–Beats Reiff on R edge to tackle Riddick RR1
–Provides front-side pressure vs. Reiff and again knocks off helmet as Levine sacks Stafford with free run
–Blocked outside by Reiff to lead Zenner RR11
–Beats Reiff outside for SF-6
–Beats Marquardt outside, comes across formation to clean up Zenner RL0
–Hustles to assist Davis with big hit on WR screen R for 1
–Twists past Marquardt for pressure
–Stood up by LT Lucas, but gets hand up for PD
That’s 9 of 12 positive notes in a game where his primary opposition was 2012 1st-round selection Riley Reiff. He had more success as a pass rusher and that may be his primary role for 2016, but that’s exactly how Terrell Suggs broke into the league as the DROY before he learned to play standing up.
Levine (+2/+4): The indispensable utility player took his 3rd role in 3 games, playing safety with Lewis and Webb taking the night off. He turned in a huge game in 5 full series (30 snaps). Pees did not make use of Levine in the dime with the thin secondary. He made my notes 4 times (all positive):
–(Q2, 4:54) He had a free run off the left edge to sack Stafford for a loss of 7. The result was improved when Reiff pulled Levine off his QB and was flagged for unnecessary roughness. It was an absurd flag, the infraction for which occurs at least once on the majority of loose fumbles. But hey, 15 yards is 15 yards.
–(Q2, 2:00) He stepped into the passing lane as the pressured Stafford threw for Boldin 15 yards downfield and collected the Ravens first official interception of the preseason (Levine’s game-winning pick-2 versus the Colts didn’t count). He returned the ball 20 yards via a winding, Reed-esque path to the Lions 15.
–(Q2, 0:51) He made a nice inbounds tackle of Tate to clean up for Byndom’s missed tackle as 18 seconds ran off the clock.
–(Q2, 0:13) Stafford threw deep right for Boldin, but Levine and Davis both had tight coverage as the ball sailed out of bounds.
I’d look at his roles in each of the last 2 weeks as emergency usage. Because of his success, there may come pressure to plug Levine in wherever a hole develops. I hope he is able to stay as the dime. His skill set is still best for that role and he’ll play the highest-leverage downs. Perhaps most importantly, the Ravens don’t have an obvious dime DB backup at this point since Elam’s injury and Pees might revert to the nickel if Levine is hurt or needed elsewhere.
Lewis, Kendrick (0/-1): DNP. Despite the lingering health issue, he didn’t lose ground this week with Brooks’ poor outing. There may be safeties released in the next 10 days who are better than the Ravens’ backups
Lewis-Moore, Kapron (-1/-1): He helped make a run play for Judon by holding his ground (Q4, 9:15), but he provided nothing in terms of pass rush in 25 snaps. At this point, he’s competing with Henry and Pierce for a spot, but he’s also a prime candidate for trade given he’ll be a UFA after this season.
McClellan, Albert (0/+3): Albert drew a holding flag on Wick to nullify Abdullah’s TD run. His only pass rush contribution was a late pressure negated by Wright’s illegal contact away from the ball (Q2, 6:18). He had a solid game, but his stock is fully valued.
Ochi, Victor (0/-2): Victor made himself small to get under the right shoulder of the lumbering RT Marquardt for his first sack (Q4, 3:20). That’s exactly the sort of move that will help him find a job somewhere in the NFL. Unfortunately, he’s at a crowded position and his chance to make the Ravens is flickering.
Onwuasor, Patrick (0/0): Patrick was in the backfield twice unblocked resulting in a run stop for a loss of 4 (Q3, 0:23) and a QH on Rudock (Q4, 2:41). It was his best game to date, but his roster chances are hurt by the versatility of McClellan, Carter, and Correa, all of whom could fill in at ILB if needed. It has been suggested Onwuasor could be used as a sub package LB (pseudo-dime), because he played safety at Arizona. He’s small for an ILB (6’0”, 217), so he might be the most logical backup to Levine as the dime, but his NFL coverage skills are untested. Because of his tweener size and the fact the role is specialized, he probably could be kept on the practice squad for such an emergency.
Orr, Zach (0/0): Zach made 3 tackles off the LoS, each of which had value. He also took down Stafford for a loss of 9 after he foolishly caught his own batted pass (Q2, 0:21). Brooks’ missed tackle (see above) on Riddick’s 34-yard run (Q2, 7:08) wasn’t his fault, but he wasn’t able to shed the block of the center on that play.
Pierce, Michael (0/+2): He beat a double team from Jeanpierre and Ikard to blow up Washington for a loss of 4 (Q3, 0:23), but did not receive any tackle credit. He also impressively backed up Dahl which should have blown up Washington’s run, but he escaped outside for a gain of 4 (Q4, 7:38). I’m beginning to believe he may get the last DL spot this season because he’s outplayed Carl Davis and provides backup as a pure nose. He’ll be snapped in a moment if he goes to the practice squad, so the Ravens may be incented to trade a DL.
Powers, Jerraud (0/-4): DNP. See introduction.
Price, Sheldon (+1/0): Price displayed an improved ability to look for the football and maintained good coverage for the most part. He stripped a slant pass for a PD (Q3, 13:56) and knocked away a 30-yard pass intended for Lee down the left sideline (Q4, 5:18). He allowed a soft 14-yard completion to near the left sideline (Q4, 15:00).
Smith, Za’Darius (0/+1): DNP. If you’re a Ravens fan, you have to love the pass rush options this team appears to have. It will be interesting to see how Pees deploys them on 3rd down in particular. I expect one of Judon and Za’Darius will line up inside to compress the pocket and create green dog opportunities as McPhee did.
Urban, Brent (+1/+4): I’ve heard a lot said about Urban being invisible in the pass rush. What game are those folks watching? Brent has used his height exceptionally well to compress the pocket through 3 games. His pressure with hand up forced Stafford to run for a gain of 4 to bring up 3rd and 16 (Q2, 2:26). He was double teamed by the C and LG, yet batted a pass back to Stafford that resulted in a loss of 9 (Q2, 0:21). Finally, he stunted past the center, deflected Orlovsky’s pass (uncredited in the Gamebook, but signaled by the official), and knocked him down for a PD/QH combination (Q4, 13:51).
Webb, Lardarius (0/0): DNP. I did not hear the reason he sat out, but the depth at safety which was to force a difficult roster decision now appears gone.
Wilson, Julian (+2/0): Wilson had another 26-snap trial at both corner and safety. He took down Orlovsky a yard short of a first down to end one drive (Q3, 7:56) and registered a PD to end another drive (Q4, 4:42).
Wright, Shareece (-1/-3): Shareece played poorly for a second consecutive game:
–(Q1, 1:15) He was beaten on a crossing route for a gain of 8 to convert 3rd and 6.
–(Q2, 6:18) He had an illegal contact penalty away from the pass that negated an incomplete pass.
–(Q2, 5:31) He missed a tackle on Tate to allow 7 extra yards on a 12-yard play.
Young, Tavon (+1/0): Tavon played 28 snaps in the nickel, all in the first half. The only time Stafford effectively picked on him was a 3rd-and-5 conversion to Anquan Boldin where Young was unable to bring him down short of the sticks. He otherwise looked solid in coverage and I don’t see any reason why he should not be the first option at nickel.