I don’t think too many are surprised to see the Ravens having a good defense. However, if you had told me through 2 weeks they’d have allowed 10 points total and had 10 turnovers, I’d have asked you if you were on your day pass.
Yet here we are, 2-0 to start the season. Let’s take a look at how the positional groups graded out today, in the 24-10 victory over Cleveland.
Offense: Overall: B
The Flacco Report: B
Joe Flacco had a very impressive start to today’s contest. Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (or Greg Roman, depending on who you really think is designing this playbook) used a variety of motion in the backfield with the tight ends, utilizing both bootlegs and roll-outs.
Flacco looked very comfortable in this approach and was providing some bullet passes to move the sticks. The only blemish was an interception that was thrown deep and looked to be a miscommunication between Flacco and WR Mike Wallace.
Flacco finished 25/34 for 217 yards, with 2 TD and 1 INT. Overall, you have to be impressed with Flacco’s progression since last week, particularly his comfort in the pocket.
Running back: B-
The Ravens suffered a big blow in losing Danny Woodhead for 6-8 weeks with a re-aggravated hamstring. However, this opened a spot for Alex Collins. Now, look: no one wants to see a fumble. More importantly, a fumble that wasn’t necessary. Though, you have to appreciate the extra effort,once you get the first down – especially late in a game with a lead – you can just take the tackle. Hopefully Collins learns from his glaring mistake.
Still, Collins showed a burst that the Ravens are missing and the thought here is that he earned himself some more carries for next week.
Terrance West appears to be just a goal line back. Outside of his touchdown run, he struggled to find room.
Javorius “Buck” Allen was solid once again and showed good straight line speed. Unfortunately, he lacks the wiggle you want to see, as well as the true straight-line speed to become a #1 back, but he’s a good change of pace guy and showed his receiving skills with a TD reception from Flacco. His skill set will be important with Woodhead down.
Bold prediction moving forward: Collins becomes the Ravens’ #1 back.
Wide Receiver and Tight End: B+
First, let’s look at the bad. Breshad Perriman. Period. Full stop. Perriman is entering bust territory. He had 0 catches on 4 targets, including a wide open drop. On another play he wasn’t on the same page as Joe as he turned to the sideline, but Joe threw deep. This is likely a symptom of missing training camp yet again. He seems to not be able to read plays (look back to the Miami game last year when the ball hit him in the back because he didn’t turn) or catch the ball. Not encouraging.
Mike Wallace also had a down game with just 1 catch for 7 yards.
However, the positives outweighed the negatives. Benjamin Watson showed Ravens fans exactly why he was kept around, hauling in 8 catches for 91 yards. I even saw a member of the RSR Forum apologize for saying Watson should have been cut in the offseason.
Jeremy Maclin’s hands continue to impress Ravens fans as he brought in 4 of 5 targets and added a nicely contested touchdown bullet from Flacco.
Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams were extremely impressive in TE/H-Back roles. They’re not going to light the stat book on fire, but they’re going to allow for some creativity on offense and can help grind out first downs.
Offensive Line – C+
The offensive line faced a pretty strong front seven today and held up reasonably well.
In the run game, the line struggled to get a lot of push, but they did manage to open some holes that the running backs took advantage of. The Ravens averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. This was helped out by a big 37-yard run by Buck Allen on some nice blocks.
This line needs to find an answer for the loss of Yanda.
How can it only be an A- after 3 sacks, 9 pass deflections, 4 interceptions and a fumble recovery?
Simply put – blown coverages. These are going to kill the Ravens if they continue against good offenses. Andy Dalton last week and the combination of DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan failed to take advantage the first two weeks.
However, the Ravens defense deserves a lot of credit for the takeaways that have been ending these drives.
Defensive Line and Edge Rushers: B+
The Ravens defensive line did well against a strong cast on the Browns offensive line. However, given the skill level, the performance just seemed average. A rewatch is necessary, but the Browns had a few long runs and it’s hard to tell if te line or the linebackers were responsible.
The edge rushers were solid again today which bumped this grade up a bit. Terrell Suggs continues to build his case for the Hall of Fame, adding a strip sack and 4 QB hits to his season.
Tim Williams was noticeably quick off the line and beat All-World LT Joe Thomas at least twice, including a game-ending pressure that forced a Kizer incompletion on fourth down.
Tyus Bowser also added his first career sack on a strong performance.
Kamalei Correa had a disappointing performance, notching only 1 tackle throughout the game. He started strong and seemed more composed, but that seemed to go away as the game went on. There has been a noticeable downgrade from Zachary Orr.
Bowser looked very good in the SAM role and appears to already be better suited for the starting spot than Matt Judon. Bowser had a sack and also added an INT.
C.J. Mosely had a pretty lackluster day compared to a week ago. He had a lot of tackles, but a couple of the blown coverages appeared to be on his watch. Be sure to check out Filmstudy’s take as he will have more details.
Defensive Backs: A
This defensive back group is hard to break down. On one hand, you see beautiful plays from guys like Lardarius Webb and Brandon Carr, who combined for 2 INT and 6 pass deflections. On the other hand, a couple of the blown coverages seemed to come from all angles of the secondary, including Jimmy Smith.
For now, they get an A because the INT’s are making the mistakes pretty small in the big picture, but these need to be cleaned up.
Another note is that Marlon Humphrey almost notched his first career INT in some sticky coverage late in the 4th quarter. Humphrey has played limited defensive snaps, but is impressing early. Being eased into the role should help limit mistakes as he provides excellent depth.
The Jaguars will provide another interception-prone quarterback for this group to feast on.
Special Teams: C
Pretty quiet day from the special teams unit. It’s hard to criticize Justin Tucker too much, but he did miss a 58-yard attempt putting an end to his streak of consecutive 50+ attempts made. He connected on his other attempt from 28. 58-yarders are hardly routine so it’s not time to panic.
Sam Koch was solid and had a long of 63 yards on one massive boot.
Marty Mornhinweg’s play calling was much better. It worked to Joe’s favor. You could argue that it’s really Greg Roman’s playbook, but whoever it is I’m liking what they’re selling. Next week will present another strong defensive unit with a good line. It will be interesting to see the approach.
Dean Pees is a puzzling man. His need to go into a shell and rely on 3- and 4-man rushes just doesn’t make sense. Either way, it’s been said that the skill on this defensive unit is enough to overcome his limitations as a play caller and that proved true for a second week.
Week 4 is going to be a major concern when a high-powered Steelers offense is the opponent.
This had to be added for this week. Suggs was held so many times I threw my remote across the room.
The audacity to throw a flag on Jimmy Smith’s questionable hands to the face call was just almost comical.
I hope a letter gets written to head office for the officiating. A theory of fixing by way of officiating is not off base. It was pathetic from start to finish.
Brandon Carr’s 4 pass deflection and INT are enough to earn today’s game ball. He’s a very solid corner and is earning that contract. It’s exciting to have multiple solid corners for the first time in a long time.