The Ravens offense did not take the field until the 3:25 mark of the first quarter and then proceeded to stay on the field for all of 53 seconds, their total time of possession for the quarter.
Yet the first quarter ended with the Ravens on the lead end of a 14-7 game thanks to a fumble recovery for score by Courtney Upshaw and a 108-yard kick return by Deonte Thompson.
It was a strange and uneven game/performance, even for a fake game.
1. BIG MAC: Pernell McPhee continues to be a menacing force for the Ravens defense and his versatility is broadening. It will be interesting to see how Dean Pees uses his unique skill set to create mismatches when the regular season begins.
2. KICKIN’ IT: The kick coverage team and the kick return team were both plus on Saturday. After 8 kickoffs the Cowboys’ average start was their own 19-yard line. The return team averaged 46 yards on 5 returns including the 108-yard return for score from Deonte Thompson (62.7 yards on his 3 returns).
3. IN THE MIDDLE: CJ Mosley and Daryl Smith are developing into a formidable nucleus in the Ravens defense. Mosley does a nice job sifting through traffic to make plays. Smith had the stop of the day when he violently dropped Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar for a 2-yard loss.
4. ON THE EDGE: Terrell Suggs was much better against the Cowboys setting the edge on running plays. He was active rushing the passer but never really disrupted the quarterback. His opponent Tryon Smith isn’t exactly chopped liver although he did prevent a Suggs sack with a bear hug that would have made Yogi proud.
5. RUN IT: The Ravens running game continues to show promise. The offensive front is a coordinated effort and the backs once again attacked the line of scrimmage to the tune of 5.0 yards per carry on 29 attempts. Let’s give a thumbs up where it’s due. If you are going to blame offensive line coach Juan Castillo for last year’s rushing debacle, you have to give him at least partial credit for this year’s resurgence.
1. CLEAN UP TIME: Perhaps part of the problem lies in the lack of live tackling during training camp but the team tackling is shoddy and needs some major cleaning up.
2. MONROE “FLAT” TIRES: Eugene Monroe looked slow and off balance far too often. His footwork was sloppy and he seldom worked from a position of leverage when protecting the passer.
3. LATE TO THE PARTY: Throughout camp and during the first two preseason games Matt Elam has been a step or two late and has not been the playmaker the Ravens need and expect on the back end. Originally thought to be the safety who would spend more time up in the box, in Dallas safety sidekick Darian Stewart was actually more active and effective around the line of scrimmage.
4. MEDIVAC: The Ravens secondary has been depleted by injuries to Asa Jackson and Lardarius Webb. Although the chest injury Jimmy Smith sustained on Saturday night in Dallas isn’t believed to be serious, it was an unpleasant reminder of just how thin DB coach Steve Spagnuolo’s unit is. Smith has arguably been the team’s best player throughout camp.
5. OFFENSIVE DEFENSE: The Ravens starting defense could not generate a pass rush and that left the Cowboys quarterbacks standing in a comfort zone, capably picking apart the Ravens secondary. It seemed like the Ravens defensive front was forced to count to Mississippi-5 before they could take off. Dallas averaged 6.4 yards per offensive play and their four QB’s combined for a 100.4 passer rating. Dean Pees’ unit is a complete mess when defending screens.
- The broadcast was wretched. There were more screen blackouts than Ravens third down conversions (3 of 12).
- Ball security was an issue during the preseason opener (Pierce, Forsett fumbles) and it was again on Saturday in Dallas (Taliaferro, Forsett).
- Joe Flacco was inconsistent and struggled whenever his primary read was covered. Not exactly what you want to see when going up against last season’s worst defense, one that is even weaker this season.
- The extended length PAT’s are a joke. The league thought that the strategy might invite more two-point conversion attempts during the preseason. Even if coaches actually embraced the proposed change why would they reveal their hands during fake games?
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