RAVENS REPORT CARD IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR: Giants 13 Ravens 12

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Before a sleepy and dampened crowd that had very little to cheer about the Ravens lost a snoozer to the New York Giants by the score of 13-12.  The nationally televised game probably aided fans across the country by sending them into an early sleep. The visitors were more physical, more focused and more entertaining, although that isn’t saying a whole lot.  This game was a slight notch above watching paint dry.
 
The outing was disappointing for the Ravens who seemed very well prepared and ready to play only 6 days earlier.  The Ravens’ performance on Sunday night was much like their first practice following the victory over the Eagles – very flat and uninspired.
 
RAVENS OFFENSE: On the team’s first snap, rookie Ben Grubbs starting with the first unit for the very first time was flagged for a false start. On the next play Willis McGahee tried the left side and was thrown for a 5 yard loss.  The play looked lethargic and the lethargy is something the Ravens couldn’t seem to shake on offense the entire night.  The initial drive lasted less than 2 minutes and for 3 very shaky plays – the complete opposite of their start against the Eagles on Monday that saw Steve McNair lead a 93 yard touchdown drive.
 
To say the Ravens ground game never got untracked is an understatement. The complete lack of punch was alarming and it is cause for concern considering that the team spent so much to bring in Willis McGahee and several draft picks to improve the play of the offensive line.  Offensive lines do take time to gel but this line looked like Dippity Don’t last night.  McGahee ran it 6 times for 3 yards, 5 of those carries amounting to -4 yards. The total net yards of offense (211) is embarrassing.
 
Steve McNair was ineffective and forced the ball downfield to Demetrius Williams who was double covered on the play.  McNair’s digits for the night said it all – 5 for 8 for 29 yards, 12 of which came on a toss to Williams on a third and 19 play during the first series.  Do the math – that’s 4 other completions totaling 17 yards.  On the night McNair’s passer rating was 29.7.
 
Kyle Boller was a bit more effective than McNair but he was late with an extremely predictable throw to Clarence Moore in the end zone deep down the left sideline.  Moore drew double coverage on the play.  Troy Smith wasn’t quite as lost last night but he still looks very raw.  He did move his game in the right direction however.  Drew Olson came back down to Earth after a solid outing against the Eagles
 
The offensive line didn’t fire out last night and as a unit they seemed overmatched.  Jason Brown and Ben Grubbs had a few nice blocks to spring Mike Anderson on a couple of nice runs while Jared Gaither and Adam Terry did a decent job of holding down the edges in pass protection.  But as a unit, they need to come together as a whole.  The sum of the parts just isn’t getting it done on the ground.
 
Devard Darling outpaced Clarence Moore who had 1 catch for 4 yards.  On the crossing route, Moore failed to get the first down.  He needs to understand down and distance and given that this is his fourth season, one has to wonder if he ever will.
 
Overall the Ravens got inside the red zone only once courtesy of a Haloti Ngata recovery of a Manning fumble at the Giants’ 12 yard line.  Other than that the best the Ravens could do was get to the Giants 20.  One drive ended on the Giants 20 thanks to a very poorly executed quarterback sneak.  McNair struggled to latch on to the football during the exchange with Mike Flynn.
 
OFFENSIVE GRADE: D-
 
RAVENS DEFENSE: Last week the Ravens played an extremely solid defensive game against the Eagles.  This week, they appeared to be a bit overconfident and overzealous as Eli Manning seemed to complete passes at will while his men up front answered the Ravens exotic blitz packages.  Manning was 10 of 13 for 114 yards and a very Peyton-like 128.4 QB rating.  The Ravens were off-balanced early on jumping offsides at an alarming rate.  The defense had 5 first half penalties, two of which kept drives alive.
 
Jarret Johnson’s performance last week was questioned by some.  Last night he certainly answered contributing a sack, a forced fumble and a QB hurry.  The later should have resulted in a sack had he not be blatantly held by a Giants’ running back.  While officials flagged players often throughout the night, perhaps the most obvious penalty was ignored.
 
On the Giants very first play from scrimmage, Samari Rolle suffered an ankle sprain as second year receiver Mike Jennings caught a 17 yard pass on Rolle as the Giants escaped jail from their own 9 yard line.  Rolle has played well in camp but such solid play has yet to translate well to any action against Ravens’ opponents including the Ravens v. Redskins scrimmage.  Corey Ivy filled in for Rolle and it’s clear that Ivy is better suited for the nickel.  Next man up – it looks like Derrick Martin.
 
Terrell Suggs looked solid particularly in run support.  Ray Lewis was pushed around a bit, particularly by Jeremy Shockey and Brandon Jacobs.  Haloti Ngata continues to impress as does Dwan Edwards.  Justin Bannan seemed to lose his head on Sunday night while being flagged three times.  Trevor Pryce made a cameo appearance and did very little.  Ed Reed drifted out of position on the Manning TD throw and Chris McAlister looked a bit uninspired.  Dawan Landry played well at the line of scrimmage in run support, particularly when taking on the load known as Brandon Jacobs.
 
Gary Stills was solid in his reserve role and Edgar Jones was a force during passing situations.  He was caught out of place a few times during running plays.  Jamaine Winborne played well and seems to be making the transition to safety quite nicely. He had 4 tackles a sack and a QB hurry. David Pittman was tested and seemed to answer when called upon. The reserves gave up 148 yards on the ground in the second half.  They need to stick to their assignments and tackle better.  The Giants averaged over 6.7 yards per carry on 22 second half rushes.
 
DEFENSIVE GRADE: C-
 
SPECIAL TEAMS: Matt Stover continued his string of consecutive field goals hitting from 33 and 47 yards out.  Newcomer Rhys Lloyd also chipped in with field goals from 40 and 38 yards out.  All of Lloyd’s kickoffs reached the goal line or deeper.  He had two touchbacks.  The kick coverage teams left room for improvement. The three kicks that were returned by the Giants produced 28 yards on average.  The Ravens averaged 32 yards on 4 kick returns thanks to Yamon Figurs 52 yards return in the fourth quarter.
 
Sam Koch was solid averaging 48.6 yards on 5 punts.  The coverage on punts was also effective as the Ravens net 42.6 yards on punts.  Punt returns were limited.  Figurs had one fair catch while Sams managed only 8 yards on 2 returns.  This was easily the best of the three units yesterday.
 
SPECIAL TEAMS GRADE: B+
 
COACHING: The team was flat and the coaches have to share in that responsibility.  The Giants were noticeably hungrier than the Ravens and in many ways, the Ravens lacked focus and they went through the motions.  Let’s call it for what it was – a team and a coaching staff (with the exception of Gansz & Co.) that simply just punched in the clock last night.
 
COACHING GRADE: C
 

PLAYERS ON THE BUBBLE: Devard Darling: He is beginning to create distance between himself and Clarence Moore particularly with his special teams contributions.  He remains however, (BUBBLICIOUS)…Clarence Moore: See Darling above. (BUBBILICIOUS)…B.J. Sams: Sams’ real competition for a roster spot might not be Yamon Figurs at all.  It could come from newcomer kick specialist Rhys Lloyd. (BUBBLE EVAPORATING)…Keydrick Vincent: He could survive (BUBBLICIOUS)…Brian Rimpf: Nothing has changed; (BUBBLE ABOUT TO BLOW)…Jamaine Winborne: Continues to play well.  His play could put another DB on the bubble.  Evan Oglesby, are you listening? (BUBBILICIOUS)… Edgar Jones: Just the opposite from Eagles game…solid when rushing the QB (1.5 sacks), weak game v. run; sacks hard to ignore (BUBBLE EVAPORATING)…Anthony Bryant, Keyonta Marshall & Atiyyah Ellison: Marshall the best of the bunch last night but still… (BUBBLE ABOUT TO BLOW)…Corey Ross, Musa Smith, P.J. Daniels: Can the Ravens afford to keep all three?  Daniels has to step up.  Ross is making the best of his opportunity and looks quicker than last year while playing with heart. (BUBBLICIOUS)…Rhys Lloyd: Can the Ravens depth support this luxury pick? (BUBBLICIOUS)
 
* BUBBLING DICTIONARY
 
BUBBILICIOUS ~ Stays on the bubble
BUBBLE ABOUT TO BLOW ~ Long shot to make team
BUBBLE EVAPORATING ~ Improving chances to make team
BUBBLE GOING, GOING, GONE ~ Player off bubble and on final 53 man roster

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