After a very strong week one performance, surrendering zero QB pressures, Wagner received significant playing time in his second game. While the rest of the offensive line played sloppy, holding the team back, Wagner did anything but. Throughout the entire second half, Wagner was quick off of the line of scrimmage, completely shutting down the pass rush on the left side.
Before the draft, his overall quickness and flexibility were highly questioned, but Andy Moeller and Juan Castillo have done a great job accentuating his strengths and masking his deficiencies. If Wagner can put on some weight and drive better while run blocking, he could be a serious candidate for the Ravens’ left tackle of the future.
Proving that his week one dominance was not a fluke, Asa Jackson once again displayed the talent that makes him such an intriguing player. While the Falcons quarterbacks routinely threw in Jackson’s direction, he was consistently in good position to make plays on the ball. He has the quick feet and loose hips that make Lardarius Webb such a threat, and plays with a physicality that the Ravens look for. He showed a great knack for driving on receivers running short routes, delivering two of the biggest hits of the game, nearly knocking the ball loose on both plays. Still, Jackson comes with baggage, and the Ravens have to decide if he is worth the headache.
While Brown continues to battle Josh Bynes for the weak-side linebacker position, his play during both pre season games has been outstanding. In the nickel package, Brown has carried tight ends and slot receivers up the seam with ease, showing his natural coverage skills. Against the Falcons, however, Brown also had a significant opportunity to play in the base defense as well. And as expected, he was a complete force, taking on blocks and filling gaps to stuff the run. While Bynes struggled to make a play when unblocked, Brown was all over the field, making his presence felt. Within the coming weeks, expect Brown to jump Bynes on the depth chart, he’s that good.
While competition can be a good thing, Shipley has struggled terribly in both pre-season games, so this competition needs to end quickly. All game, Shipley was beaten off the snap, making life for Ray Rice very difficult. He seemed very frustrated with his inability to get any push off the line despite having great strength and lower body power. Shipley doesn’t have much physical talent, so he has to win with technique and positioning, but those were arguably the two biggest weaknesses on display last night . While Gradkowski had some minor mental mistakes, he is clearly the better option with more upside.
Although Huff has impressed throughout training camp, he played well below his standards against the Falcons. His missed a tackle on Steven Jackson, allowing a first down, was poor but his coverage was even worse. On the touchdown to Julio Jones, Huff left his deep half to drive the out-route, leaving Jimmy Smith on an island. This would normally be acceptable in other coverages, but Smith was playing Jones’ outside hip because he assumed Huff had inside help. So, when Huff left his zone, Jones had a wide-open area to attack. This wasn’t Huff’s only coverage blunder, however, as he took poor angles throughout the game. While Huff may go on to have a great season, this is certainly a performance to forget.
Doss has been really unimpressive in the first two pre season games, but especially struggled against the Falcons. When the ball goes his way, he has been very timid and doesn’t seem to have that Boldin-esque mentality. When the ball doesn’t go his way, lazy routes and lack of physicality at the line of scrimmage have become the norm for Doss. If Doss and Flacco haven’t developed a solid rapport by now, it might be time to move on to other options at slot receiver.