GOOD, BAD & UGLY: No need to press the panic button

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The Carolina Panthers failed to score a single offensive touchdown yet managed to post 34 points thanks to an opportunistic defense and a punt return unit that combined to reach the end zone four times.

Some might say that the 34-27 final score is not indicative of how bad the Panthers manhandled the Ravens. This may be a contrarian opinion but put me on the flip side of that coin.

This game, like most preseason games, was a mirage. What you saw, you didn’t get and judging from the outcry of Ravens fans whose expectation levels are artificially bloated (that comes with the defending champion label), the panic button is wearing out.

Deep breaths…

Clearly the Ravens made mistakes – mistakes that cost them the game. But which of those mistakes aren’t correctible?

The first team offense when Marshal Yanda was on the field fired on all cylinders. Take out Yanda and add in a Tandon Doss miscue and a bad decision by Joe Flacco, and suddenly you have arguably a 21 point swing.

The first team defense was impressive, particularly the front seven who dominated the line of scrimmage. They held the Panthers offense to 67 net yards in the first half with only 5 first downs, 2 sacks and several more QB pressures.

Don’t let your eyes be deceived by the 28 points courtesy of miscues.

THE GOOD: The first team offensive line dominated the Panthers on a surgically precise 9 play, 69 yard, 4:18 opening drive that included 5 completed passes and 4 successful runs culminating in a 1-yard waltz into the end zone by Ray Rice…Marshal Yanda’s return was nice to see particularly since it was anything but a token punching of the time clock. Welcome back Marshal. You’ve been missed…Ravens RB’s combined for 169 yards rushing…Third down efficiency was a very respectable 54% (7 for 13)…Brandon Stokley (3 catches, 43 yards), welcome home!…Tyrod Taylor’s escapability is spectacular…Justin Tucker’s 4 touchbacks helped a special teams unit that apparently needed it.

The Ravens defensive front was outstanding. They will be fun to watch once they can really wear down an offensive line with their deep rotations by the second half of games…Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love the all out hustle of John Simon who is like a younger, crazier version of Jarret Johnson…Great to see Lardarius Webb back gaining confidence…Brandon Williams proved again that a man that big can be a great athlete, easily sacking the elusive Cam Newton…Dean Pees defensive squad held the Panthers to 173 net yards and just 14 first downs – 4 by penalty.

THE BAD: Joe Flacco is locking in on his receivers and holding on to the ball too long, which clearly can be explained away by a lack of chemistry, rapport and trust with his receivers. That takes time. The Ravens signal caller will be mortified when he watches the tape of the pass intercepted by Luke Kuechly… Tyrod Taylor can make bad choices sitting in the pocket, cheated in part by his sight lines (or lack thereof). The pick 6 was a perfect example…Jah Reid was once considered a prospect with a ton of upside. Suddenly he’s looking like a suspect who could be on the outside looking in if not for his third round draft status…Dallas Clark had an inauspicious start to his career as a Raven with a drop on one target and he alligator-armed another.

Matt Elam has looked lost since the opener in Tampa. James Ihedigbo is a nice situational player but a first round pick needs to take that strong safety job and so far Elam isn’t…

THE UGLY: Tandon Doss’ failure to make the right pre-snap read, a fairly elementary one for a third year NFL player, cost the Ravens 6 points and arguably 12 since they were driving when he crossed up Joe Flacco…Kelechi Osemele was beaten soundly by the Panthers 2013 first-round pick Star Lotulelei. The Panthers’ DT had four tackles, 3 for losses, a sack and a QB hurry. KO looked lost and sluggish and hardly like the player we’ve seen in the past…Three turnovers led to 21 points … The punt cover team was rag-tag. Sam Koch averaged 52 yards on 2 punts yet his net average was 15 yards…

The officiating is atrocious and all of these powder puff rules championed by Roger Goodell to help him fend off lawsuits by retired players is ruining the game. Twenty-one penalties added up to 223 yards and if it continues, the NFL will lose a portion of what it treasures most – advertising dollars tied directly to TV ratings. The game has assumed risks and what happened to many retired players, while tragic can’t be undone by today’s rules.

THOMPSON CREEK PLAYER OF THE GAME: You have to give credit to an unheralded player who steps up and seizes an opportunity to prove that despite his undrafted status, he can play with the big boys if given a chance. His 4 catches for 59 yards including a 24-yard scoring strike from Joe Flacco and his willingness to support the run game with his blocking, earns Marlon Brown best player status for his efforts in last night’s contest.

Which 6 Wide Receivers make the Final 53-Man Squad? (select 6)
Total voters: 2017
Torrey Smith (17%)
Jacoby Jones (16%)
Tandon Doss (2%)
Aaron Mellette (13%)
Deonte Thompson (8%)
Marlon Brown (16%)
Tommy Streeter (0%)
Brandon Stokley (17%)
LaQuan Williams (11%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.

29 Raves on “GOOD, BAD & UGLY: No need to press the panic button

    • Tucker: M&T Sec 527 on said:

      That is certainly my hope (Poly Pride!). But he makes those contributions listed as a WR and at the expense of another WR.

          • Robert Fuse on said:

            Did you not watch the first preseason game? Just because someone isn’t playing doesn’t mean they aren’t good. I think the team is comfortable with him being on special teams because he’s so good at it.

  1. D rock on said:

    I think it’s possible they go 7 receivers. They cannot afford to lose Brown or Mellette to another team. Laquan is too good on special teams and Deonte could be really great. They could carry 1 less corner than normal, and this could be okay only because Elam and Huff have some ability to play corner in an injury event. Doss will be cut

  2. J Crow on said:

    Overall great recap but I can’t even begin to express just how strongly I disagree with Tony’s assessment of Elam throughout preseason. “Lost” is not even close to the word I would use if I had to pick one. “Raw” maybe. But he’s acquitted himself quite well from what I can see. I don’t have the stats in front of me but he has to be close to leading the D in total tackles, maybe second to D Smith.

    Of course we all know standard stats don’t tell the whole story, and I am basing this off watching the TV broadcasts and highlights and reading game recaps, not from actual film study. So I’d love to read a more detailed critique of Elam’s play, Tony. Or even just a breakdown of a play you feel is emblematic of his struggles. And if I’m wrong about this I’ll gladly admit it.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      J, I just think that he hasn’t built on his performance in Tampa which I thought was a great start. I’m a fan. His style reminds me of Bob Sanders and I think he can be that kind of player when he can stop thinking and let his instincts take over. Thinking slows a player down and believe that is what’s happening in general over the last couple of games.

      I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. Ed Reed when he was a rookie went through the same thing, so much so that some thought Will Demps, a UDFA the year Ed was drafted was better. That didn’t work out so well did it?

      Thanks for your support.

  3. J Crow on said:

    To be clear, I’ll gladly admit to myself being wrong. I obviously won’t be glad that Elam ‘s play has been less impressive than I’d originally thought.

  4. RichieG on said:

    Hey TL,
    I think you & I are the only 2 folks who think the officiating is pathetic and that the rule changes have dramatically lessened the “impact” (meaning the thrill and enjoyment A N D the physicality) of the game…and really care about it. BTW, I think instant replay has a lot to do with timid-CYA flags! I was strongly in favor of IR prior to it’s implementation, but now…be careful what you wish for.
    Hope I am wrong.
    PS: If RogerG REALLY cared about the health of these guys and put a REAL ped-policy in place, these guys would revert to the norm size-wise and then their big hits would be less dangerous.

    • Big C on said:

      That last part is the truth… The PED program is a joke and the players know how to beat the system. Besides the ones that pay top dollar for designer gear, they’re allowed to have 6x the testosterone levels off the rip anyway. Like that Luke Kuechly, he’s an early candidate for a failed drug test…

  5. Ebuhuel on said:

    it is possible that they will drop jacoby jones and both keep marlon brown and aron mellette. Remember the Ravens rule 80% production for 20% of the price. I think Ravens have a player who does about the same as Jacoby for way less money

  6. jws on said:


    • Robert Fuse on said:

      He never catches passes? What film have you been watching? Almost everything thrown his way that is CATCHABLE is caught. Did you not watch him in the first pre-season game? He is a playmaker. He can make clutch catches. He has been lost in the shuffle of wide receivers because no one is giving him time with the first team. You can only make the best of an opportunity when it is given. If you do research on him or even look on YouTube, you will see that he can catch. Look at old articles from a year or two ago and you will see people raving about him. People forget, because we fans seem to have a flavor of the week type of thing going on every time a wide receiver has a nice game. First LaQuan, then Mellette and now Brown. LaQuan did more than Brown in the first game and somehow he didn’t even get time with the first team. My theory is that since he is so good on special teams, the coaches would rather have him there rather than starting at wide receiver.

  7. JerryB on said:

    Always enjoy this “post”, Tony, but aside from getting a line on new talent, ALL preseason games are….UGLY! Thought it interesting that Flacco never targeted Torrey Smith, preferring to spread the ball around to 11 different receivers to learn who could play, which is really what preseason is all about. And, looks like they found a potential good one in Brown. Here’s hoping that Deonte’ Thompson’s injury isn’t too serious because he was good enough to make the team last year and could provide a great tandem with Torrey Smith to stretch the field…….

  8. JPinFL on said:

    I thought this game was a much better game than the game against Atlanta. Yes, there were a few glaring mistakes which gave Carolina almost all of their points. Seeing our defense dominate as they did, even with the tacky personal foul calls against Smith and Elam, it was a fantastic game by our defense. The offense showed us what they really are on the opening drive.

    I enjoyed watching Rainey play. I hope he makes the team. I believe he did something which put him in Harbaugh’s dog house last season, and he has been working hard to find his way out of it. Hopefully he does and is able to see some game time this year.

    Brown looked great – what else can be said about him? He didn’t cost the team any points, and he add a TD as well. He came in to the most important of preseason games, with a termendous amount of pressure, and played flawlessly.

  9. Ravcolt on said:

    Can’t blame the officials IMO, Tony. They are only attempting to enforce unenforceable rule changes which have killed the beauty of football. Every hit over the middle becomes a collective of holding one’s breath to see if it was ‘legal’, whose definition changes with the wind. Receivers should have a field day knowing they can only be touched. You can’t run back kickoffs, touch the quarterback, tackle high or low, level a receiver cleanly, hit with the ‘crown’ of you helmet (is there a designated portion on the helmet shown as the crown?), replays are the norm, etc. The NFL is unrecognizable compared to the 60′s – what a shame.

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