Yanno what, folks?
I always heard that Eagles fans were a tough crowd. They throw batteries on the field, chuck snowballs at Santa, and actually kiss their mother with ‘that mouth.’
But at least I can say with all certainty that their team is not as cold-hearted. After all, their (failed) 2-point conversion attempt at the end of the game, in lieu of tying the it up with an extra point, was nothing shy of one big gift for the Ravens in the form of an undeserved win.
And with Christmas, a bout with the Steelers, and a potential playoff spot right around the corner? The timing could not have been any better! Thanks Eagles!
Wait… ADHD driven tangent… we’re supposed to be grading the Ravens…
Yea, they kinda stunk again, huh? And it wasn’t just one or two guys, one or two plays, one or two coaching decisions… it was another game where the Ravens, who should have turned this game into a 34-17 victory (or better) looked ill-prepared.
If you’re still confident? Let me go ahead and break your spirits with the grades.
Forget the ‘Elite Meter,’ I’m starting the ‘Flaccuracy Meter,’ to gauge Joe Flacco‘s ability to hit his targets. His reading is affected by things like passes behind receivers, coming up short on downfield throws, and interceptions to nobody in particular.
This week, despite Flacco’s touchdown pass to Kamar Aiken and his phenomenal strike to Steve Smith Sr. for a touchdown, his Flaccuracy was just awful. Joe completed just 16 of 30 (53.3 comp %), under-threw multiple receivers deep, and threw an easy and near game-changing interception to absolutely nobody in particular late in the fourth quarter (Joe claimed Smitty was his target but he was blanketed big time).
It’s December Joe. Also, you’re a Super Bowl MVP and a veteran quarterback in this league. WAKE. UP.
Offensive Line: C
After the first touchdown drive where Flacco had all day to throw, I had high hopes.
Shame on me.
The rest of the game was a combination of Flacco taking a sack on crucial downs (three sacks on the day), and throwing under extreme duress more often than not. In the running game, backs were dancing around defenders in the backfield all afternoon, and getting most yards well after first contact.
Of course it wasn’t all bad, and there’s a silver lining here: despite all of the pressure, the Ravens O-Line only committed a single penalty, which came against Vlad Ducasse (go figure, it negated a 19 yard carry by Kenneth Dixon). That one penalty has to be a season low on the line. Nice.
Running Backs: B
As always, I can only grade them on what they actually have a chance to do on the field.
This week, the Ravens actually ran the ball, but I still believe it should have been more, given the success the team had. Terrance West carried the unit with 13 carries for 77 yards including a 41-yard scamper to open the second half (wasted by pathetic play calling moving the Ravens out of field goal range), while adding a team high four catches for 45 yards. Kenneth Dixon had some issues running, amassing 36 yards on nine carries, but surprising as it may be, added nothing to the pass game.
I’d expect more from the duo, but ultimately, they need more opportunities in ideal scenarios, and less 3rd and 18 handoffs.
In addition, West and Kyle Juszczyk combined to catch seven of Flacco’s 16 completions. Which leads us to…
Wide Receivers: C+
When your leader in receptions is a running back with four, and your second leading receiver is your fullback with three?
Not a good sign for the productivity of the wide receivers on the day.
Steve Smith Sr. had two catches for 40 yards and a touchdown, Mike Wallace had two receptions for 60 yards including a 54-yard catch and run weaving through a crowd of Eagles, and Kamar Aiken added two of his own including an opening offensive drive touchdown.
That’s it. Nothing else to see here. Move along folks.
Tight Ends: D+
Remember against Miami when Pitta was a target monster? And people were all like ‘uh-oh! Flacco has his safety blanket back in Pitta!’
I miss that version of tight end play on this offense. Actually, I miss an actual successful offense. And real, logical coaching decisions…
Defensive Line: F
WHO. WAS. THIS. UNIT?
70-something rush yards per game at home? Nah, we’ll more than double that and give up 169 rushing yards AND we’ll throw in two rushing touchdowns (and a two-point conversion on the ground) to boot!
Ultimately, the d-line got toasted. Zero push against the Eagles O-Line all day, no pressure on Carson Wentz to speak of, and Ryan Matthews simply shredded them.
I’m hoping this was an anomaly, because typically this unit is much more stout. (fingers crossed, looking at the 25th on my calendar with concerns and chills).
Pass rush? What pass rush?
Once again, this unit goes cold in terms of ability to get into the backfield to make some noise. Elvis Dumervil did record the only sack of the game for Baltimore, and Terrell Suggs added three tackles for loss, but otherwise MIA on the day.
As for the inside linebackers, Zach Orr was tagged with two costly penalties (the first of which was nonsense, but he’s gotta keep his head on straight) on consecutive plays, while C.J. Mosley again struggled in coverage.
I know it’s early, but if you’re looking at the draft next year for Baltimore and NOT immediately thinking outside pass rush? You may want to take off the purple shades, put down the purple Kool Aid, and realize that either Suggs, Dumervil or BOTH will be gone come next season. Add some young blood and rework the magic!
Look! I gave a unit with Shareece Wright starting a decent grade!
Ultimately, the Eagles found that running the rock was much more effective than passing in this game, and Zack Ertz was essentially the only effective weapon, doing most of that against linebackers (and with the help of the zebras).
Tavon Young, despite getting busted for a DPI late in the game that almost cost the Ravens, played yet another solid game. As much as this team needs Jimmy Smith? I’d say they need Tavon Young just as much right now.
Also, another solid performance by Eric Weddle (I disagree with those pinning the Wentz rush TD on Weddle, as he froze Wentz looking for help to come over, but it never showed up), who had an interception negated by the aforementioned shady flag on Orr.
OTHER STUFF AND THINGS
Well, they did actually run the ball this game. And did so successfully. But the lack of preparation for this Eagles team was absolutely astounding. The Eagles ran, I believe, 703 more offensive plays than Baltimore. The defense of the Ravens got destroyed in the run game, and not a single adjustment was made mid-game. After Wentz’s first throw was picked off, the coaching staff put the reins on him, and every throw was right at or behind the line of scrimmage until very late in the game. Still, the Ravens couldn’t stop them, as Philly put together long drive after long drive with nothing but runs and screen passes.
But the big screw up? Of course, it was Marty Mornhinweg calling a pass play late in the 4th with the Ravens in the red zone and ready to seal this victory.
RUN. THE. BALL.
Nooooope. Instead Flacco steps back to pass in a clear cut run situation, and ultimately starts the unraveling process with an easy interception.
Why was that play called? Why wouldn’t you call a run?
The Ravens are averaging 8.4 penalties per game, and committed seven this game, so pretty dang close. And really, that number is high, as I’m not so sure about those questionable illegal contacts on Orr and Mosley.
TEAM GRADE: C
Ugly all around game that only fell into favor of Baltimore because of the Eagles’ anemic record leading their coach to attempt two to win their otherwise meaningless game. Baltimore simply cannot play like this against Pittsburgh next week, or Cincy in the final game of the regular season.
Ultimately, we should be focusing one thing only: the Ravens are winning close games this year that they wouldn’t have won in previous years. Take the W’s. Run with it. And let’s just keep hoping that this team will figure out how to fire on all cylinders sometime soon. Hopefully by, say Christmas?