The scoreboard read Ravens 31, Falcons 17 – FINAL. But in the end the victories consisted of only moral ones and those for the Ravens’ reserves.
The first quarter was a disaster on both sides of the ball. To put it in perspective the Ravens manageD to “rack up” 9 yards in 9 plays on 3 possessions during the first frame while Julio Jones alone had 6 catches for 109 yards and a score. Maybe the real Ravens first team did land in Arizona (see video below).
The reserve units managed to pull it together, sparked by Tyrod Taylor and then later by Curtis Painter who tossed more TD’s in about 2 quarters of game action than he’s probably done in all of training camp. Maybe he just likes domes.
That said, the preseason is about shaping a roster, addressing areas of weakness and finding productive replacements for departed players. And for the Ravens at the top of such lists are:
· Improving the offensive line
· Discovering a pass rush without Terrell Suggs
· Determining who will a No. 2 running back
· Selecting the best placekicker
The offensive line had me singing When the Levee Breaks to myself. Matt Ryan at times looked like he could have had a Rex Ryan snack followed by a flossing. Anthony Allen, apparently second on the depth chart heading into the game couldn’t have had a worse outing as a runner, blocker, pass catcher and special teams player. The bright spot from this punch list was Justin Tucker who continues to surgical dissect the uprights with precision.
But it wasn’t all bad. Here is 2012’s initial, The Good, Bad, Ugly and The Megan Fox…
THE GOOD: After a sluggish start Joe Flacco survived a couple of hard hits and managed to hit on 9 of 12 for 88 yards and a touchdown to Ed Dickson for a 122.9 QB Rating…Tyrod Taylor was effective with his feet (5 carries for 51 yards) although he was inconsistent throwing the football…Bobby “Purple” Rainey was a workhorse with a kick return, 6 punt returns, 13 carries for 36 yards and 3 catches for 28 more including a playmaker TD while on the receiving end of a screen pass…Deonte’ Thompson is building a case to make the team and for the moment he looks like the No. 5, even ahead of Tandon Doss. Given the team’s investment in Doss he’ll probably get more looks and Thompson’s real competitors for the No. 6 spot in the WR corps are Tommy Streeter and Logan Payne.
On the defensive side Brendon Ayanbadejo had a solid game filling in with the ones for Ray Lewis. He had four tackles, one of which was a big hit on Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers, plus a key interception deep in the red zone…Omar Brown was “Johnny on the Spot” with an interception and two fumble recoveries…After a slow start Corey Graham showed why the Ravens are excited about his addition to the squad…Albert McClellan took his success from the practice fields of Owings Mills to Atlanta (or was that Arizona) and continues to make plays. He had five tackles, a sack and a couple of QB pressures. His biggest mistake was failing to contain Matt Ryan in the pocket on one play when Ryan escaped and hit Julio Jones – again. Had he kept containment Paul Kruger would have registered a sack…K Justin Tucker continues his nearly flawless summer.
THE BAD: The play of the Ravens starting corners was subpar. Cary Williams was targeted often and Lardarius Webb seemed a step late…Gap integrity from the punt team was weak on the Falcons 45 yard punt return by Dominique Franks…Joe Flacco overshot a wide open Jacoby Jones on a well designed post pattern off a boot right…Ray Rice must be exhausted. He raised the M&T green flag seemingly 10 times per quarter last night during the Rave TV broadcast…Not sure what the Rave TV broadcasters were watching at times. Maybe they paid too much attention to the pizza box…The scab officiating crew seemed extremely intimidated early on, allowing obvious penalties to protect players to go unpunished and by referencing Atlanta as Arizona not once but twice.
THE UGLY: Anthony Allen has had a poor camp and last night that was on full display. He looked as though his shoes were tied together covering a punt that went for 45 yards; his head down belly-flop blocking attempt nearly had Tyrod Taylor killed; he dropped a pass for a first down and his running hardly resembles the hard downhill running we saw from him during his rookie season…The offensive line needs work – a LOT of work. Bobbie Williams looked lost at times as did Gino Gradkowski. Penetration up the middle forces a complete breakdown in protections schemes. It seemed that the team had answered some questions during training camp with the solid play of Gradkowski and Kelechi Osemele. Last night’s game did answer any more. Quite the opposite – more questions and doubt were raised…Costly injuries to Ryan McBean (broken ankle) and Ed Dickson (shoulder subluxation).
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: The 2012 inaugural MFA goes to a player who in training camp couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Maybe he just likes Arizona – I mean Atlanta. Curt “Kobain” Painter went 7 for 14 for 76 yards and 3 scores to post a 106 QB rating while leading the team to a collective sister kiss – a preseason victory.