RAVENS REPORT CARD: Lions 27 Ravens 12
Detroit Lions wideout CalvinJohnson is good - good enough to be an NFL video game cover boy. As we sawFriday night, he’s also good enough to torch Ravens cornerbacks, who for thesecond straight weeks struggled in coverage.
A week ago the Falcons reliedon three-step drops and quick slants for easy connections in front of saggingRavens defenders.
This week Johnson simply ranpast, through and over Ravens corners Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith whileaveraging 22 yards on five catches and a touchdown in less than a half of play.
Lacking much of a pass rush,the Ravens allowed quarterback Mathew Stafford to sit comfortably in the pocketas he piled up 12 completions on 17 attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns –a 145 QB Rating – in less than thirty minutes of game time.
Offensively, the Ravensstarters showed better rhythm, again working out of a no-huddle attack thatgave quarterback Joe Flacco time to survey the defensive fronts of Detroit andadjust on the fly. That was goodnews for fans, who had been clamoring for coordinator Cam Cameron to cede the on-fielddecision-making reigns to his quarterback.
The starting offense receivedbetter play from the interior line and moved the ball much more consistentlythis week, despite stalling in the red zone. However, the second team offense struggled to showmuch in the second half.
While the Ravens were a moredisciplined squad, the Lions flashed more individual talent, overall. It’s reflected in the individual unitgrades.
Flacco played very well,throwing with good touch and accuracy on deep balls. His receivers did notalways help him, and as a result his passer rating of 78 is a bit deceiving. Getting to the line quickly, he wasable to draw the Lions offside on a couple of occasions using a long, hardcount. He threw one ill-advisedpass into the stomach of a leaping Ciff Avril, who dropped the interception.
Tyrod Taylor struggledmightily placing his throws where his receivers had any chance of catching theball. While he is impressive running the ball – he compiled a team-high 70rushing yards on the night – he threw off target repeatedly, and his shortstature led to two balls being batted down at the line.
Curtis Painter came in withjust 4:35 left on the game clock and immediately looked more like an NFLquarterback, crisply connecting downfield on six of his first eight throws inthe two-minute offense. But then,working mostly with players who won’t make the final roster, he finished-outjust 3 of 13, including an interception on a ball over the middle, intended forrookie Tommy Streeter.
RUNNING BACKS B
One thing was clear from thisgame - the Ravens have running backs that can catch the ball out of thebackfield. As a group, the backs snared 14 out of 18 balls thrown to them for117 yards – half of the Ravens’ receiving total in the game. Damian Berry and Bobby Rainey lookedparticularly effective as receivers. However, on the ground, much was left tobe desired as the group amassed just 27 yards on their 16 carries.
Rookie third-round pickBernard Pierce saw his first game action and impressed with a nice catch andrun over the middle that was reversed on a penalty. He was caught a couple times running east-west,however. Rainey looked powerfuland elusive with the ball in his hands, including a fierce stiff arm at the endof a catch and run. Berry put up anice bid to push Rainey for the third RB spot.
Anthony Allen fell furtherbehind in his bid to remain on the squad. He ran for -2 on three carries, dropped a pass and whiffed on a blockfor a sack.
Vonta Leach sat for the firstcouple series as the Ravens went with a three-receiver set, and then came inand made a nice catch and run for 15 yards near his own end zone.
WIDE RECEIVERS C
With Torrey Smith sidelined,LaQuan Williams got the start in that three-reciever starting set. While he rannice routes and got separation, he needs to focus on finishing plays; he caughtonly two of six balls thrown his way, including a dropped would-be touchdowndown the right sideline.
Jacoby Jones also dropped aball to force a punting situation. However, Cameron may have found a receiverwho can run one of his pet plays, the reverse, which Jones ran for 35 yards.
Tandon Doss finally sawaction and made one nice grab over the middle.
TIGHT ENDS D
Billy Bajema demonstratedthat he can be an effective blocker playing on the inside. However, he was not able to come upwith either of the throws directed to him. Davon Drew appeared briefly, with one catch. Mark Balasavage was not able to comedown with a ball Taylor threw behind him. Bruce Figgins, an undrafted rookie out of Georgia, may have been thebest looking pass catcher of the group, grabbing two catches.
Kelechi Osemele continues toimpress on the right side, eating up pass rushers. He was flagged for a questionable roughing penalty as hesteered the pass rusher into the ground and then pounced on him to keep himdown. He is an impressivelyaggressive blocker. There aretimes his footwork in pass protection needs work. Michael Oher was steady on the left side, although he didget flagged for holding to stall a first-quarter drive inside the ten and forcea field goal.
In reserve, Bryant McKinnieand Ramon Harewood both showed good technique and adequate protection. Jah Reid was a late scratch as hecontinues to be bothered by a calf injury.
INTERIOR LINE B
With Matt Birk back atcenter, this unit played much better. Birk did not drive anyone off the line ofscrimmage, but he and Bobbie Williams had no trouble with line calls in theirschemes. Williams looked a lotmore mobile this week and was effective getting down field in the short passinggame. Marshal Yanda stood out when pulling to his left, destroying CoreyWilliams to spring Ray Rice for his only decent run on the night.
In reserve, Gino Gradkowskishowed he is still very much a work in progress. He was repeatedly stood up andpushed into the backfield. JustinBoren also struggled a bit on the left side, giving up a sack.
Starter Cary Williams wasrepeatedly targeted and, playing tight coverage, struggled with footwork whenattempting to track Johnson. JimmySmith had similar troubles, and was slow to turn and find the ball in the air.
Lardarius Webb was betterrunning with receivers, but missed a tackle on Johnson to allow the bigreceiver to turn up field for a first down.
The second and third stringcorners sagged off receivers and allowed too many catches before closing tomake tackles. Of this group, rookieAsa Jackson looked the most ready to play, and made a nice open fieldtackle.
Ed Reed got the start and lookeda bit tender wrapping his right arm around Johnson after a catch as he broughtdown the receiver. Bernard Pollardshowed a nice inside blitz, but got away with a late hit on Stafford.
Sean Considine has yet toimpress filling in for Reed. He was late over the top to help Williams,contributing to a 57-yard completion and sagged off of receivers over themiddle. Rookie ChristianThompson looks more capable. After Detroit running back Joique Bell ran offright tackle for 20 yards to the Ravens’ 4, Thompson poked the ball loose. Remarkably, it was Omar Brown whorecovered, his fifth opportunistic takeaway in two preseason games.
Ray Lewis made a poor read onDetroit’s first offensive play to allow Kevin Smith to bolt ahead for eight.The noticeably lighter Lewis later made a nice break on the ball to knock downa pass.
Dannell Ellerbe stood out asthe biggest hitter among the linebackers with good closing speed and suretackling. Jameel McClain closed equally quickly on dump-off passes.
For the second week, RickyBrown did good things, including another tipped pass and a hard hit on the ballcarrier, meeting him in the hole.
Nigel Brown also impressed inboth coverage and in his closing speed getting to the ball.
DEFENSIVE LINE B
Ma’ake Kemoeautu showed whyhe has worked his way into the starting lineup alongside Haloti Ngata. Kemo constantly pushed the line backand blew past right guard Stephen Peterman for tackle in backfield.
Bryan Hall and Pernell McPheealso stood out for their ability to penetrate. Terrance Cody was textbook perfect in standing up blockersand sliding to the ball carrier.
Paul Kruger did a nice jobbalancing his workload of run stopping, pass rushing and pass coverage. Hejumped a route for a near interception. He was also flagged for a late hit onStafford after arriving just a beat late.
Courtney Upshaw isn’t thereyet. He shows a good upfield push as a pass rusher filling in for the injuredTerrell Suggs, but shows few moves and appears tentative at times carrying outhis assignment. He also made amental error lining up offside. He’s still behind Albert McClellan, who showed he is able to get to thequarterback a little coming off the edge.
Sergio Kindle left the gamewith a right shoulder stinger after diving for a tackle as the ball carrier wasrunning out of bounds.
SPECIAL TEAMS B
The special teams units wereup and down, as you would expect when different mixes of young players are run outonto the field.
In the kicking contestbetween incumbent Billy Cundiff and rookie Justin Tucker, Cundiff did nothingto lose the job. However, it was hard not to be impressed by Tucker nailing a50-yard field goal down the middle, or staying focused as the team ran thecorrect personnel onto the field as the clock ticked, and then calmly nailinganother from 45-out. Tucker alsoperfectly executed an onside kick, tipped by Deonte Thompson and recovered byOmar Brown.
In two games Brown hasrecovered five turnovers. If there is any doubt he has a nose for the ball, hewas also the guy who recovered a blocked Sam Koch punt after Nigel Carr whiffedon a block in the middle of the line. Koch impressively nailed a 59-yard punt downed inside the ten.
Asa Jackson and DeonteThompson both caught the coaching staff’s eye with impressive returns.Jackson’s 85-yard punt return for a touchdown was called back when Nigel Carrwas caught holding for his second severe special teams blunder. Thompson took a kick from seven yardsdeep in his own end zone and nearly broke it, barely stepping out at midfield.That return was nullified by a holding call against Sergio Kindle.
Bobby Rainey did a nice jobfielding a punt on the run to pick up yardage. Anthony Allen and Sean Considine both struggled to maketackles on the kick coverage units.