GOOD, BAD & UGLY: Ravens 27, Falcons 23

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Preseason games are an odd beast. Take for example last night’s game between the Ravens and the Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium.

Clearly the Ravens first unit had you know what handed to them. And while we can and do evaluate individual performances, team assessments are rather difficult given the games within the game.

Players may be refining specific techniques in order to have a more productive regular season. Game plans are non-existent in that they haven’t been implemented in a way to attack an opponent’s weaknesses, as they are when the games count.

Play calling is basic on both sides of the ball because no team wants to give their first regular season opponent anything of value on film.

That aside, the Ravens have plenty of work ahead of them to get ready for opening night on September 5 against the Denver Broncos. Entering training camp their were two primary concerns that still remain unresolved:

  • What will the Ravens do at wide receiver opposite Torrey Smith?
  • With all the new faces on defense how and when will they gel as a unit?

THE GOOD: The first half in John Harbaugh’s words was one of the worst halves of football he’s ever seen. He’s right, particularly for a team as talented as the Ravens playing before their hometown crowd – a surprisingly raucous one for a preseason game.

Offensively perhaps the only “good” you can take away from that train wreck courtesy of Jim Caldwell’s unit is the explosiveness exhibited by Torrey Smith, taking a short in-route through traffic and past defenders for a 77-yard score. The play accounted for 59% of the team’s first half offense…Offensive tackle Ricky Wagner has put together back-to-back plus performances clearly holding his own at left tackle against the Falcons’ reserves…Aaron Mellette is now 2 for 2 – two preseason catches, 2 TD’s, this time on the opposite end of a 40-yard toss from Tyrod Taylor

Defensively Daryl Smith was outstanding shedding blockers while making plays near the line of scrimmage. Linebacker mate Arthur Brown showed why the Ravens moved up in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft to select the former Kansas State standout. His closing speed is excellent and his cover skills are as advertised…Arthur Jones continues to provide signs that he could be the team’s breakout defensive player in 2013…

Tackling has been rather substandard so far this preseason but that can’t be said about Asa Jackson. Jackson has exhibited great closing speed and sure tackling throughout training camp and the preseason. The Ravens should and will welcome him with open arms after his 8-game suspension. He also provides an excellent alternative in the return game. His 78-yard punt return for a TD proved to be the game’s winning score…John Simon was practically invisible last week in Tampa but last night he showed everyone why the Ravens draft war room was so excited to pick the former Big 10 DPOY. His 4th quarter sack was a clinic on how to execute a spin move to the quarterback…The much maligned, oft-injured David Reed looked very good as a kick returner averaging 31.3 yards on three returns.

THE BAD: Joe Flacco is a notoriously slow starter and last night was no exception. Perhaps the slow tempo and lazy, redundant cadence was just indicative of the preseason. The Falcons were timing the cadence with great success and that helped them dominate the Ravens offensive line…Speaking of which, AQ Shipley put an end to the “competition” with Gino Gradkowski…Tandon “Soft” Doss just isn’t the answer and the Ravens should never again ask for Joe Flacco’s opinion on another draft pick ;-)

Jacoby Jones wasn’t much better. He just doesn’t appear to be a reliable option in heavy traffic with those Roberto Duran hands. And Jacoby, when it’s 3rd and 5, don’t run a 4-yard comeback route…LaQuan Williams failed to capitalize on the momentum he established in Tampa…Ray Rice, you definitely have a reason to vent your displeasure over the wretched run blocking. But don’t stomp off the field like a 5-year-old. Take it up with “Running Game Coordinator” Juan Castillo one-on-one…

Jimmy Smith continues to struggle. His raw talent just doesn’t translate to consistent productivity on the field. His technique needs work. Why are we still talking about this?…In Smith’s defense, it looked like his safety Michael Huff bailed on him during the Matt Ryan to Julio Jones TD pass. Ryan had all day to throw and you just don’t stay in stride all over the field with a talent like Jones. Huff is supposed to be the Ravens new centerfielder. If so, he misjudged a few fly balls last night…

Adrian Hamilton is clearly more comfortable as a situational pass rusher than as an edge setting linebacker…Overall, Ravens linebackers failed to contain on backside runs off zone blocks. The rushing defense was eerily similar to that porous 2012 defense that the Ravens vowed to correct… Ok, ok, he’s coming off an injury but Haloti Ngata looked like he was simply putting in time last night.

THE UGLY: The entire first half! (See below)

THOMPSON CREEK PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tyrod Taylor for the second consecutive week played very well demonstrating poise and resiliency as the offensive leader. He kept his head downfield despite being under duress often in the pocket and he shook off an interception that really is on LaQuan Williams for making a bad decision while breaking off a route deep in Atlanta territory. His two fourth quarter scoring strikes paved the way for the comeback victory – a victory which on the heels of a woeful performance from the starters amounted to dropping a 35-foot putt for a triple bogey.

Who was the Ravens Player of the Game v. Falcons?
Tyrod Taylor (39%)
Asa Jackson (30%)
Daryl Smith (18%)
Torrey Smith (13%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.

38 Raves on “GOOD, BAD & UGLY: Ravens 27, Falcons 23

  1. Tgun#42 on said:

    Tony I could not agree more about Ngata. He was getting pushed back like he was on roller skates. He hasnot looked good to me for the last three years. He says he is healthy and that he can dominate since moving inside but I am not seeing it. I also thinks whoever lines up at Will next to Smith needs to realize they have to pound that two gap gaurd and not wait until they get the momentum and trust that the Mike baker will clean up the mess.

  2. D Rock on said:

    I know its early but Furstenburg looks good, he has hands and he has speed. That can be a deadly combo for a TE. Mellette is making the most of his opportunities and for a 7th rounder he is doing very well.

    I am a die hard fan so yes I look to the future as well as this season. Pitta will be back, Dickson should walk. I would love for us to have our 2 TE’s be Pitta and Furstenburg with Juice coming out of the backfield. No linebacking corps could match that nightmare. Then Torrey and Mellette if he develops on the outside and Deonte if he develops in the slot.

  3. DD on said:

    Aaron Mellette is good and can only get better. He has the body language of the “real deal”. Give him a chance and get him in with the ones ASAP. What have we got to lose? That’s what preseason is for. Doss, Thompson and Reed have not shown that they are the answer.

    • Mill on said:

      Aaron Mellette kinda reminds me of Marcus Colsten. He plays with that 7th round chip on the shoulder. The Ravens haven’t typically had success picking wr’s late in the draft, it could be argued they haven’t had success choosing WR’s at all. Maybe Mellette can change that.

  4. Raveon on said:

    Tony–You and the media can spin this any way you want, but the Ravens are a very bad football team. I actually thought the national media was wrong about 8-8 or 9-7 but they were probably being nice and giving a little respect to the SB champs. The Ravens 1st team did not belong on the field with the Falcons 1st team. And Ryan did not play the entire first half or the margin would have been larger. Atlanta looked like they have been practicing for 4 more weeks than the Ravens. Our starting O was missing 1 player, Yanda and that is it. Our offense was horrific in every aspect. You can say whatever you want, but having Yanda is not going to add that much. And he could hurt a again so we saw our starting O. We could not run or pass the ball. Joe looks BAD. And the receivers didn’t look bad because Joe could not get the ball to them anyway. I can’t imagine what would have happened if Atlanta threw any wrinkles into their offense. I was (was the operative word) very excited about the season. Denver will have a field day with us. Denver wins by 14. Only 14 because Peyton takes the foot off of the pedal because they have a comfortable lead and we get a soft TD late. My prediction–Harbaugh ends up on a rampage all season. It is going to be ugly. I hope the boo birds are not out too soon.

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Well I guess we’ll find out when the season starts won’t we?

      In the meantime, why would I “spin”? These are my observations. Thanks for sharing yours.

      • KH on said:

        I hope your right Tony because despite 2-0 start to Pre-season, our 1st string looks very out of sync. Between the training camp and pre-season I hope they get it all together come Sept 5.

        • Dempsey on said:

          Remember this…

          2012 NFL Preseason, Ravens Vs. Falcons: Julio Jones Shines In 31-17 Loss To Baltimore

          Atlanta’s starters got off to a great start but the reserves couldn’t hold the lead in a 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

    • ERey on said:

      What exactly is Tony spinning? He article says the entire first half was ugly. But some players did play well which Tony pointed out. I can’t remember a preseason in both the Billick and Harbaugh eras where the 1st team played well. But the backups always play hard. Hence, the outstanding depth of the team. If there is a need to worry, I’ll wait until after the 4th game to decide that.

    • DarthSizzle55 on said:

      Joe always plays bad in the preseason. so does our D. b/c they are not changing snap counts reavealing their hand. and they experiment with what they do on the field. Last year we got our doors blown off by the Rams in preseason and we did all right.

    • Rumor Ray on said:

      I remember a season that we went 4-0 in the preseason with SOLID first quarters and went 6-10 in the Regular Season …. RELAX !!!!!!! This is PRESEASON and is a VANILLA Version of the team. Really should we show off best or risk injury on a game that does not count??? I guess those who believe that the team is this bad also feel the Bengals really BEAT the Ravens in that last game last year? Excuse me but that was like a Preseason game to us and we played it that way. This TEAM is faster and better then last season…. DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS !!!!! Jump off the bandwagon if you want now …. however just do not come back acting like you had faith the whole time.

      • Mill on said:

        You are spot on. Typical preseason overreaction. Guys are going to have bad games, you WANT them to have them NOW. Not in September. I know Harbs and crew would probably like a better effort but I am also sure that they are happy to have all of their teams flaws on tape so that they can try to fix them before the games count.

        Do you know how meaningless the preseason really is? The 0-16 Lions of 2008, were 4-0 during the preseason. If that doesn’t kill any notion that the preseason is a sure indicator of things to come than I don’t know what will.

      • Raveon on said:

        Rumor Ray–you are correct and we are on our way to being 4-0 again this year in the pre-season just like the year we went 6-10. In years when our first teams played well in the pre-season our team played well in those years. When the 1st team did not play well last pre-season they stayed in the game an extra series or 2 and eventually played well. This is not happening this year and it is a sign of bad things to come. Also I have seen signs of the old Joe again. I thought he was gone after his performance last year and with his new coach. Last night reminded me of Cam Cameron’s worst display of an offense. Lastly, and I know people will hate hearing this, but Ryan looked like a much better QB than Joe. I have always said Joe is much better and I would rather have Joe as our QB. After seeing Ryan last night, Ryan is the better QB.

        • melvin on said:

          you are completely missing the point. the preseason is , statistically speaking, a horribleindicator for how the regular season well play out.

          what do you mean Joe couldn’t hit targets? he was 7/9. his two misses were of the receivers hands…

          you’re right the first team has not played well. But an nfl season is 16 games long, not 3 quarters.

    • melvin on said:

      you are sorely mistaken if you think you can judge how ‘very bad’ this football team is after a couple of 1st team quarters in the preseason…

  5. Big C on said:

    You know Joe just has these games where he comes out flat and has no fire at all… Needs to bring that competitive trash talking to the games sometimes from the practice field. I think we all feel better seeing Tyrod getting better in year 3, looks like he’ll be a guy to get a chance to start elsewhere. I think Jah Reid may be the worst football player on our team. Mellette has earned a chance w the 1′s. Laquan let me down, he needs to make plays and he did the opposite. Damian Berry’s name should be Sanka because he’s extra-regular… should be in Canada really. Anthony Allen is servicable, Bobby Rainey is just a click or 2 too slow. Asa looked great, too bad he’s on all those drugs.

    • Rumor Ray on said:

      Big C, Asa takes Adderall and has a script for it. The issue is he did not have the script filed with the NFL thus the reason for his issue. Not a drug problem….. Taylor may get a couple looks however not as a starter in the NFL. He did do well for 2 preseason games however he is not a starting QB. (see Troy Smith as I smh) I still remember the fans calling for him to start when Flacco was a rookie because of his great Preseason Games??? Can we ever learn??? At WR, Mellette should be a solid 3rd and Doss, Reed and Williams all need to be cut.

    • cbay52 on said:

      I really feel good about Tyrod Talor as a solid backup this year. Hanie is on the way out though. I’m still a little upset about LaQuan doing well just to drop back into mediocrity again. I think he may be cast as a special teamer for life.

  6. Ravenwoman on said:

    I would like to know why players like Matt Furstenburg, Laquan Williams and Aaron Millette don’t get more playing time in the games. It seems to me that they are trying to force the issue with making Tandon Doss a number 2 or 3 receiver when in fact, he probably should be cut from the team. I also don’t see how David Reed is perceived to be that great. I am sure there are others who can be serviceable on special teams. I just have a funny feeling that the Ravens will cut Furstenburg, or lose him trying to hide him on the band squad. I really think he and Dennis Pitta are our future TEs with Dallas Clark being a one year stop gap. Shankoe hasn’t shown anything and should be let go. I hope I am wrong and the Ravens keep Furstenburg.

    • Elizabeth Guthrie on said:

      Really! Doss never did anything productive last year….and he’s still not doing anything THIS year…………ugh!

    • spy on said:

      Agree 100%,,,,,,,,Harbaugh better wake up and realize Doss is not very good,,,,,,,,Furstenburg has the third best hands on the team , play him more , much more along withMillette,,,,,,,,,these two guys could help and boy do we need help…………I get the feeling Ozzie is telling Harbs , don’t worry , I will get you a veteran in ten days like Dwight Evans or TG or Donte Stallworth,,,,,,,,,,better worry people,,,,,,,,,,’

  7. pvrcbabe on said:

    I don’t think the problem was with Joe. He has no one to throw to. They were clearly trying to establish the run, and the run blocking was horrific! Penalties also killed any momentum, as we have seen before. Also, shipley will not be the starting center, so we were missing 2 on the online that are pegged to start. Plain and simple they came out flat. This is not unusual for this team in the preseason as we have seen this the past three years. I remember one year they kept shuffling offensive line players around right up until the season opener. I am hoping that once we get Dallas Clark on the field he can show Joe another target. If he does, Shianco will not make this team. They also need to get Dickson healed so he is ready to start in Denver. He already knows the plays and has some report with Joe.

    • Mill on said:

      I am afraid Dickson is going to be out for quite some time. I remember Todd Heap had something similar back in 2007 and if I am not mistaken he missed the final 10 games. Dickson, although I like him, needed a lot of reps with Joe and he’s not getting them. I am not sure how valuable he will be when he finally does return.

      I also wonder if Joe has thought of getting some extra reps in with some of these guys on their own time. I know Brady has been known to meet up with his receivers and toss the ball around during the offseason. Heck even Sanchez has his little Jets west camp. It could be that we just don’t hear about it but Flacco maybe needs to consider doing it in the future. Especially since his supporting cast changes so often.

    • Elizabeth Guthrie on said:

      Oh, God, did I miss something? Did Clarke play? Hmmmmmm………..and (no offense) but the word is “rapport”………

  8. JerryB on said:

    Never put too much stock in these games. One of Flacco’s strengths is his accuracy, which his 5 year history will attest to. It’s an innate ability that can’t be taught or coached, or ALL QB’s would have it. Even in college his completion percentage was in the 60% range, so this is a NON-ISSUE!

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