Ravens fans got a boost just before game time when Marshal Yanda was announced last from the tunnel with the offensive starters.
That was most of the offensive good news for the night as the Ravens gained just 3.3 yards per offensive play and lost the battle with the Bills ones 7-3 in a penalty-laden first half.
The defensive depth came on to secure the victory with key turnovers and the Ravens have outscored opponents 38-5 in the 2nd half of the 3 preseason games.
Terrell Suggs had a big first half, including solid edge defense and 2 batted passes where he read the QB while disengaged with the tackle and knocked away plays headed for open space. Those plays became contagious as the Ravens generated 4 more PDs at the Line of Scrimmage (LoS), using the combination of height and pressure effectively. The Ravens have accumulated 20 QHs in 3 games, including an early knockout sack of Tyrod Taylor (Q1, 10:18).
From a scheme perspective, the most obvious battle for playing time occurred with series-by-series alternation at ILB, particularly Onwuasor and Correa. Each had time next to Mosley against the Bills ones, they each played with Bam Bradley, and they even played alongside each other.
Onwuasor finished 2nd on the team in defensive snaps (55), ahead of Correa (38) and Bradley (35). Onwuasor played much faster than the starter Correa in a mixed, but generally positive performance detailed below that included 3 tackles, a PD, a QH, and the game-sealing forced fumble and recovery.
Despite a game where the Ravens had 49 combined tackles, 7 QHs, and 12 PDs, Kamalei Correa was shut out on the defensive scoresheet. He did get a free run off the offensive left side for a pressure (Q1, 5:39).
Onwuasor’s additional snaps were, in part, a function of the fact he stayed in the game for obvious passing situations, while Correa was removed for Anthony Levine in the dime. Each preseason game, Levine has started as a sub package (dime) linebacker, moved to play traditional safety, then retired for the night. Dean Pees does not have a second safety taking any live-fire dime snaps, so he has been reverting to the nickel after Levine moves to the back end.
I expect Correa, Onwuasor, and Bradley will all see action in the finale on Thursday. While Onwuasor took a large relative step forward, both the starting position and the potential need to find a player outside the organization for depth (at least) is apparent.
For the preseason, I find it helpful to record the offensive linemen by series. Again, I didn’t notice any mid-series changes, but these are the 5 offensive linemen for the first play of each series.
Some notes on the OL rotation (snaps listed here are from the Gamebook and include penalties):
— Yanda saw his first action of the preseason. Based on Harbaugh’s long-standing history of sitting starters for the last preseason game, I would be shocked if he sees action Thursday.
— Austin Howard looked better in 34 snaps. His most significant deduction was a ticky-tack holding penalty.
— Matt Skura had an extended trial at guard and led all offensive players in snaps with 46 per the Gamebook.
— Jeremy Zuttah returned to play 8 series at center. I don’t want to opine on his play without snap-by-snap review, but he was not flagged in 38 snaps.
— Eluemunor played 44 snaps, 2nd most on the offense, in an odd split performance. I have 6 citations for him in my offensive notes without snap-by snap grading. Of those notes, 4 came on positive run blocks (2 pulls, 1 pancake, 1 seal) and 2 on pass blocking breakdowns (1 pressure and 1 QH on a blown handoff).
— Ryan Jensen had a difficult outing, including a false start and a shotgun snap for which Woodrum was unprepared. I’m sure he’ll start somewhere on the OL, but it’s less clear to me that it will be at center, particularly if Stanley or any other starter is unable to start the season healthy.
— The line took 3 more holding flags to go along with a false start penalty as a unit. I heard Harbaugh complain about the holding calls in the first half and I agree that I can’t detect the infraction by either Hurst or Howard from the broadcast video.
— While the starters were in for the first half, Mallett and Woodrum frequently had ample time and space (ATS) to throw and the line did not surrender a single sack or QH. Tackle play in the second half was extremely shaky, resulting in a sack among 4 total QHs.
— It’s not apparent that the Ravens have a 4th tackle on the roster. As currently constituted, Wesley will probably be retained, but he has had a difficult preseason. I will be surprised if the Ravens do not have at least 1 move remaining to add offensive line depth.
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 2017 Ravens changed based on their performance. The grade after the “/” is a total for the preseason to date. 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 2017, in positional battles, or have otherwise have something to prove this season.
Adeboyejo (0/-1): Despite plenty of ATS opportunities, the Ravens WRs had just 11 targets, 7 receptions, and 61 yards. Mike Wallace had a particularly underwhelming night on some long passes, but only Griff Whalen (among WRs) made a play with the football after the catch. Adeboyejo collected a low slant pass for 7 yards and prevented a pass behind him from being intercepted. He has a solid chance to make the roster as a gunner and 6th WR, but he’s not doing anything to take the job or imperil playing time for the more established receivers.
Allen, J. (0/0) Buck turned in another unimpressive yards-per-touch effort with just 31 yards on 12 carries plus 1 reception. The Bills defense is good and the offensive line provided few level 2 opportunities for him, but at some point, he will need to demonstrate his ability to make a plays as a receiver or runner.
Beyer (-2/-3): He was not part of the ILB auditions and did not play a single defensive snap. He played 10 snaps of special teams, but he won’t make the roster doing just that. I expect he’ll have significant playing time Thursday at both ILB and OLB to audition for other teams.
Board (0/0): He played 3 snaps on special teams, but none on offense. He is clearly out of the Ravens roster discussion, but will probably have some snaps to showcase for the rest of the league on Thursday.
Bowser (+1/+4): Tyus looks like the most complete Sam the Ravens have now in a talented group of 5 OLBs. His play increased to 40 snaps versus the Bills after just 32 total snaps the first 2 games, and he continues to make splash plays:
— (Q2, 9:16) Amidst outstanding team pursuit, he made the tackle of McCoy for no gain on a pass play.
— (Q3, 10:24) He exploited a gap between Ricard and Kaufusi to pressure Peterman and for the second time this season dove in an attempt to collect a batted pass (Judon).
— (Q3, 2:44) He lost the right edge to TE Thomas which led the way for a 12-yard run right by Banyard.
— (Q3, 2:11) On the very next play, he worked off the block from Thomas to take down Banyard for a loss of 1.
— (Q3, 1:06) The Bills ran a naked boot right on which Bowser was not fooled. Rather than rush the QB immediately to force a short pass, he maintained his depth and prevented Yates from attempting a 10-yard pass by the right sideline. That allowed Ricard and Wormley to generate pressure. When Yates was forced to run, Bowser quickly closed and forced him out of bounds for a gain of just 3. This was impressive recognition and timing from a young player.
— Usage, particularly at OLB, will be interesting to watch for game 4. If Bowser is used sparingly, I think the chance is good he’ll start versus Cincinnati.
Boykin (-2/-2): DNP. His injury has not been disclosed to the best of my knowledge, but he’s gone from potential starting SCB to no better than 4th on that depth chart (Webb, Hill, Wade) since he arrived.
Bradley (0/+1): He dove for an ankle tackle in traffic (Q2, 6:20) of McCoy to hold him for a gain of 3. He penetrated to blow up Banyard for no gain (Q4, 5:14) on a play cleaned up by Tim Williams. Bradley is thicker than Onwuasor and plays faster than Correa. He’s also good special teams player. If the Ravens don’t make a move outside the organization, I expect he’ll make the team. At the worst, he should be one of the top practice-squad players.
Campanaro (+1/+2): Campy negotiated traffic well on 4 punt returns for 43 yards. He caught just 1 ball for 7 yards, but that came in just 10 offensive snaps. I would classify his roster spot as entirely safe now and he’s a candidate to sit out the finale.
Clark (+2/+2): Clark played 57 defensive snaps and another 17 on special teams to lead both units in playing time versus the Bills. His impressive night included 2 nice fills against the run (Q3, 11:01 and Q3, 6:43), pressure on a safety blitz (Q4, 1:16), good bracket coverage on 2 longer incomplete passes, and solid individual coverage of Clay (Q2, 10:20) who otherwise was the Bills most effective offensive player.
Correa (-1/-2): See above. Opportunity can come quickly via injury in the NFL, but Correa may have the most to play for on Thursday. His starting job appears in peril and it’s not clear how he’ll earn weekly activations without it.
Daniel (+1/0): He returned to play 41 snaps on defense along with 10 on special teams. Robertson split his time between corner and safety. Most of that grade comes from the heavy usage, but he had tight coverage on 3 times targeted on the final drive and all fell incomplete. He also forced a slide from Yates (Q4, 13:20) to deny a 3rd and 9 conversion on a 5-yard scramble.
Davis (+1/+3): Carl turned in another solid effort:
— (Q2, 5:47) He drew a holding call on Incognito to negate a 3-yard run.
— (Q2, 5:24) He elevated while engaged with G Miller for a PD at the LoS, one of 6 for the Ravens on the night.
— (Q4, 3:36) He penetrated to blow up Jones for a loss of 1 on a play cleaned up by Williams.
He played 24 snaps versus the Bills and has been a big part of the 2nd-half defensive dominance the Ravens have enjoyed through 3 games.
Donnell (0/+1): I noted a nice seal block (Q4, 12:34) and a cut block in level 2 (Q4, 10:52). He was targeted just once for a 2-yard completion. His chance to make the team rests on his perceived value as a red-zone threat and the health of other TEs.
Eluemunor (0/0): See above.
Henry (+1/+3): Willie had another solid game in 49 snaps. He made a tackle from his knees when it appeared he was tripped to take down Banyard for a gain of 3. He generated a pressure as the underneath man on a twist (Q2, 2:10) to force an incomplete. He delivered a QH on the final Bills drive when he beat what was initially a double team (Q4, 0:26). He was first to the WR Reilly, which allowed Onwuasor the opportunity to strip him for the game-sealing play. He also lined up offsides once which negated a failed run play. He and Davis have similarity of position (1 or 3 tech) and both have demonstrated ability to impact both the pass and run game. Henry has the advantage of 1 more season of team control, but has yet to play a regular-season snap.
Hill (+1/+6): He was again all over the field and the question as to whether he or Webb should start at SCB is legitimate.
— (Q2, 10:20): He was not credited with a PD vs. WR Holmes despite contact as the ball was lost.
— (Q2, 1:12): He blitzed unblocked off the slot through the right B gap for a QH on a pass that was completed for a gain of 11.
— (Q2, 0:44): He went for the tackle rather than attempt to dislodge the ball on a 4-yard completion that advanced the ball to the 1 and set up the Bills touchdown.
— (Q3, 6:07): The Ravens failed to get home with a 6-man rush on 3rd and 2, but Hill’s PD denied the conversion.
— (Q3, 4:21): When Yates rolled right from a clean pocket, Hill stepped in front of the pass intended for Brown on the right sideline for his 2nd preseason pick. He then set up the return as he crossed the field.
— (Q3, 1:38): He whiffed on a PD despite good position on a 12-yard pass between the numbers and right hash.
— (Q4, 12:37): Jaylen was in position for his 3rd interception of the preseason when Onwuasor stepped in front of him and dropped it.
He was again the Ravens defensive player of the game, but he can’t exceed my expectations by any more. I expect the Ravens may shut down both him and Webb for the preseason finale.
Humphrey (-1/-1): He has not practiced since the 6-snap outing versus Miami and almost certainly won’t play in the preseason finale. He won’t be the game-1 starter as might reasonably have been hoped, but I still expect he’ll be the first man up on the outside.
Hurst (0/+1): I reviewed Hurst’s solid game from last week, but have yet to look at this week for snap-by-snap grading. If the Ravens are able to field their best offensive line without him versus Cincinnati, it will mean other positional suitability questions have been answered (Howard), Stanley is healthy, and the Ravens have decided they want Zuttah at center and Jensen at LG. In the absence of any of those conditions, I think James will start somewhere on September 10th. Since I do not expect anyone, with the possible exception of Zuttah to play in the final PS game, those questions should be answered in practice.
Jensen (-1/0): I believe it would be a mistake to move him from center, but the Ravens may do so. He should receive some credit for the fact the Ravens line allowed no sacks or QHs while he was at center vs. Buffalo.
Judon (+1/+1): Judon delivered the knockout sack of Tyrod Taylor (Q1, 10:18) as cleanup to initial pressure from Suggs. He won the right edge (Q2, 10:13) to take down McCoy for a loss of 1. He got lost by Clay on a rub route which resulted in a gain of 14 (Q2, 6:48). When the Ravens sent a 7-man rush, he had a leaping PD on a pass right intended for McCoy, which looked as if it might have gone for a big play and both he and Bowser nearly had an interception (Q3, 10:24). The relatively modest increase in expectation I have for Judon isn’t a function of his own play, but the rise of Bowser. Tyus offers a better coverage option, while Judon has had a fine preseason as a pass rusher. It’s reasonable to think Judon and Bowser will develop a rotation that could be by series, by down/distance, or by game situation which will keep both fresher.
Kaufusi (0/+3): He had another solid game in 26 snaps. He had a PD at the LoS (Q2, 1:42), and tackled McCoy for a loss of 2 on a pass play (Q2, 5:22). He was driven right several yards by Incognito to lead Tolbert’s 8-yard conversion of 3rd and 1 (Q2, 1:38) on the Bills TD drive.
Levine (0/+2): He again played a modest 12 snaps split between dime and the back end. He had the containment of McCoy (Q2, 5:22) which allowed Kaufusi to clean up for a loss of 2.
Malleck (0/0): No notes. He could be a practice squad candidate.
Mallett (0/-2): Ryan’s numbers improved, but are still unimpressive. Against the Bills he did not face any appreciable pressure and was not knocked down. However, his receivers didn’t get much separation and he threw for just 58 yards on 10 passes.
Matthews (0/0): He caught Mallett’s final pass for a gain of 15 in traffic on 3rd and 17 (Q2, 14:33).
Mizzell (+2/+4): Based on usage, the Ravens clearly prefer him to Taliaferro or Rainey. Since Mizzell is a rookie, that makes sense. He showed good ability to adjust to throws as he caught all 6 targets for 54 yards, including the Ravens only TD. I like the fact he gives the Ravens the option to split him wide and create matchup problems for a linebacker. Given Flacco’s propensity to check down, Mizzell, like Woodhead, can provide significant underneath value to compliment the speed at WR.
Moore (0/-1): He secured the ball twice for 16 yards, but didn’t make a play after the catch in either instance.
Nembot (0/0): DNP.
Onwuasor (+2/+2): See discussion of ILBs above. To summarize by play:
— (Q2, 2:39): He was unable to shut the passing lane for Holmes on a 9-yard pass right.
— (Q2, 0:56): He was unable to keep up with Clay and missed the tackle on a 10-yard gain (4 + 6 YAC) by the left sideline.
— (Q3, 1:38): He had a free run on a blitz for a QH on a pass that was completed for a gain of 12.
— (Q4, 12:37): He stepped in front of Reilly for a PD and dropped interception of a 4th and 4 pass that looked as if it would have been a pick-6. In a sense, it was a turnover on downs anyway, but the Ravens could have used a spark to seal the game earlier.
— (Q4, 1:11): After Henry arrived for first contact, Peanut stripped Reilly for the game-sealing fumble and made the recovery.
Ortiz (-1/0): He played 14 snaps to just 3 for Ricard, but if the Ravens are serious about keeping Ortiz, they need to see what he can do as a receiver. He’ll play in the finale and the fullback battle will be interesting to watch.
Payne (0/0): DNP. He is another who should see extensive action in the finale if healthy.
Porter (0/0): I made several notes about him in 17 snaps, but he’s not in the race for a roster spot. He should see significant action in the finale.
Rainey (0/0): He played just 2 snaps (2 carries, 8 yards).
Reynolds (-1/0): He lost ground to Campanaro in this game with a fair catch and a 4-yard punt return. He had no targets in 6 snaps at WR.
Ricard (0/+1): He played just 3 snaps on offense, but increased to 23 on defense. He assisted on 1 tackle for a gain of 2 (Q4, 2:00) and helped chase Yates from the pocket for a 3-yard run (Q3, 1:06).
Skura (0/0): See above for usage.
Smith, Z. (+1/ +4): The Ravens have schematic decisions to make with regard to use of their front-5 depth. Smith may be the best choice to move inside as a creative pass rush option. He swiped past McCoy for a QH that was nearly intercepted by Mosley (Q1, 4:41). He bulled RT Mills to pressure an incomplete (Q2, 2:14). The ability to make a disruptive contribution as a pass rusher is the most important part of Smith’s value to the Ravens right now. That value may be realized on the field or via trade.
Taliaferro (-1/-2): He played just 3 snaps on the final Ravens offensive drive. I can’t construct a reasonable scenario where he makes the team at this point. He should get playing time in the finale which may help him find a job with another organization.
Urban (+1/+5): It’s going to be fun watching the Ravens turn this beast loose on the Bengals come September 10th. Dalton is a smaller and Urban’s height may give him trouble with passing lanes. By play:
— (Q1, 13:52) He bulled C Wood for a QH.
— (Q1, 10:18) He was held by Incognito, but the play went unflagged as Judon sacked Taylor for a loss of 6 and knocked him from the game.
— (Q1, 6:15) He cleaned up McCoy for a loss of 2 when he reversed from Suggs’ shuttered left side.
— (Q2, 12:37) He beat LG Incognito inside for pressure, but failed to wrap up. Peterman stumbled, lost the ball, then recovered it for a team sack.
Wade (-1/+1): He took a step back in terms of important usage with 23 defensive snaps. Price played earlier and exclusively on the outside for 40 snaps. Wade should see extensive action in the finale and will be a trade chip if the Ravens do not keep him.
Wesley (-1/-2): He’s on the bubble again for a roster spot. It’s possible the league-wide shortage of tackles will make it impractical to keep either Wesley or Nembot on the practice squad.
West (0/-1): He’s the starter as things now stand, but it’s not obvious why he’s the Ravens best option at RB.
Whalen (0/0): He was the only receiver to make a play when his individual effort after the catch converted 3rd and 9 (Q3, 9:23). He’s a practice squad candidate.
Williams, M. (-1/-1): DNP after a good game against the Dolphins.
Williams, T. (+1/+2): By list:
— (Q2, 1:03): He worked off the block from LT Dawkins to tackle Peterman for a gain of 1 that was negated by Henry’s offsides.
— (Q3, 1:42): He leaped for a PD at the LoS opposite RT Ola.
— (Q4, 5:14): He cleaned up on Bradley’s penetration to tackle Banyard for no gain.
— (Q4, 4:13): Tim lost the right edge to Ola on Jones’ 6-yard run right.
— (Q4, 3:36): Williams held the left edge and again cleaned up on penetration, this time from Davis, to take down Jones for a loss of 1.
— (Q4, 0:22): He outraced the LT around the pocket to deliver a QH on a 12-yard pass.
— (Q4, 0:17): He bulled RT Ola for pressure as Yates threw incomplete.
It’s nice to see him contributing versus the run and pass. Next I want to see it versus ones.
Woodrum (-1/+0): Most of the problems with the Ravens offense were OL and receivers, but he demonstrated insufficient arm strength to make outside throws.
Wormley (-1/0): I have him noted for just 1 chase from the pocket in 18 snaps. Given the Ravens depth on the DL, he may effectively red shirt his rookie year as Henry did in 2016. However, in the case of this Ravens team, that could change either due to injury or trade.