With Week 1 officially in the books, we take a look back at the Ravens penalties thus far, the latest in new referees for the Ravens, and what to expect from the matchup Sunday against the Browns.
Week 1 Shows Promise
Despite a lackluster 13-7 Week One victory over the Buffalo Bills, I’m happy to say the Ravens played a relatively clean game!
The Ravens accumulated six total penalties, which was the average across the NFL in Week One, but take a look at the log itself:
Six penalties, totaling 35 yards. Not too shabby! And realistically, we can scratch the DoG right off the bat, as Joe tried to draw Buffalo offsides on a 4th & 1 early in the 1st quarter, but willingly took the delay as opposed to burning a timeout prior to an eventual punt.
Delay of Game aside, the Ravens offensive line appears to be the biggest culprits this week, but even that was chock full of anomalies. Rookie Ronnie Stanley was the first to jump for a False Start in the game – likely jitters, as he played a clean game the rest of the way. Immediately following Stanley’s infraction, Steve Smith Sr. did a pre-snap dance of his own. But tell me: how often does Smitty jump before the snap?
His last false start was September 20th…2012.
And how about Marshall Yanda? TWO penalties in the same game from a guy who had committed only THREE TOTAL penalties last season?
Even Jimmy Smith had himself yet another defensive holding penalty this week, which I’m sure is not exactly the start he wanted.
Ticky-tacky call against Jimmy there, but regardless Tyrod runs for the first down with ease, so we can chalk it up to a wash this time around.
Week 2 Officiating Crew
This week’s matchup between the Ravens and Browns will be officiated by none other than John Hussey.
If you said ‘who?’ you’re not alone.
Hussey is entering just his 2nd season as a referee in the NFL after 13 seasons in the league as a line judge. He was promoted prior to the 2015 season to replace longtime official Bill Leavy, and will be working his 17th regular season game as the head official on Sunday.
Despite limited time as a referee, the Browns have already had two games officiated by Hussey. For the Ravens, this will be their first exposure to the newb.
Based on last seasons games, John Hussey’s penalty log looks relatively in-line with most crews.
Taking a look at his lone matchup from the 2016 season, the Seattle Seahawks at the Miami Dolphins, the penalty log falls pretty closely in line with his averages as well.
The major takeaway here is the disparity of calls between the Offense (8), Defense (2), and Special Teams (3).
With an offensive-heavy penalty log, one has to wonder if that will carry over to Week 2 for the Ravens and Browns. The Ravens, who committed four of five penalties on offense, may unfortunately see this trend continue, especially with Hussey’s crew focusing on Offensive Line play where Yanda and Stanley were smacked with three combined penalties last week.
As for Cleveland…
As poorly as the Browns played against rookie QB Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles last week, they did manage to keep the field free of dirty laundry for the most part.
For the small sample size that it is, we can see there’s mostly jumping on the line for the Browns. Perhaps Joe can hard count a few more defensive jumps? Perhaps Dean Pees’ defensive can entice a few false starts from the Browns on the other side?
Flag Forecasting for Week 2
If Week One was any indication of what can expect in Week 2, I’d expect minimal penalties on both teams, with most calls coming on the offensive and defensive lines, as both teams show a propensity to jump, while Hussey’s crew has a tendency to focus on the line.
The good news?
Rarely do you see game-changing penalties on such calls (barring 3rd and short scenarios and extending drives).
My ONLY major concern in this game would be the speed of the Browns wideouts, and whether the Ravens secondary can keep up for a second consecutive game. As they’ve shown in the past, the Ravens are susceptible to downfield flags for Defensive Pass Interference and Defensive Holding, more than nearly any team in the NFL. Give Josh McCown a few freebie first downs, and he’ll make the Ravens pay.
With all of that said, if the Ravens can manage to play another clean game and let their play on the field be the focal point, they should walk away from this one with a 2-0 record to start the season.