Rookie Report – Week 5
The season has officially spiraled out of control, as Week 6 saw the Ravens put forth a massively disappointing effort resulting in a home loss to the Browns. Injuries are ravaging this team, but the Ravens simply haven’t played well enough thus far. The 2015 Ravens rookie class has had a rude introduction to life in the NFL, and mostly performed average at best this weekend.
Buck Allen worked as Justin Forsett’s second and only backup Sunday, and was fairly effective. He took eight carries for 58 yards, including an explosive 44-yard scamper in the third quarter that helped set up a touchdown. Forsett has an ankle injury to rehab, so Allen will likely find plenty of carries in the coming weeks. Allen needs to become a more trusted weapon in the passing game to add a more dynamic element to the position.
The two rookie tight ends played a combined 95 snaps without starter Crockett Gillmore in the fold. Nick Boyle surprisingly seems to be the favored target over Maxx Williams, with the former Delaware Blue Hen snagging three passes for 27 yards, including a pair of “drive-starter” 11-yard catches in the early third quarter.
Williams caught just one ball for no yards. We would have expected more from the second-round pick in a game where so few offensive weapons were available to Joe Flacco. Despite the negligible influence on the passing game, Williams still earned a +1.4 PFF grade due to his improved blocking. In fact, the improved run blocking of both tight ends caught my eye as one of the few positives from Sunday.
A good example took place on Allen’s aforementioned 44-yard run. Allen shows nice patience when no inside lane emerges. He bounces it off tackle and then quickly gets north and south.
The reason Allen is able to do this is because of Williams’ kick-out block. He adeptly gets into the linebacker Armonty Bryant, and once Williams gets his shoulder pads perpendicular to the line of scrimmage it’s over and his man is completely sealed off.
After a successful game against the Steelers last week, Za’Darius Smith earned a whopping 72 snaps this weekend. Unfortunately, he struggled mightily, earning a -5.4 PFF grade, the lowest on the team. He was bullied by the talented left side of the Browns offensive line, and failed to bring any meaningful pressure. Smith also inexcusably lined up offside in the fourth quarter—one of the penalties at which Harbaugh specifically expressed his displeasure.
Smith’s deficiencies in coverage were also exposed, like on this big catch and run by running back Duke Johnson. Here, Smith is tasked with covering the flat, with Kyle Arrington assigned the deep zone.
Smith gets caught flat footed and fails to get his width or depth quickly enough. The play action fake by McCown is half-hearted (trust me) so Smith can only be considered extremely tardy to the flat.
Now Duke Johnson is lightning fast, but Smith’s delay allows Johnson to get by him with ease and gain 33 yards (shortened to 14 yards after the challenge showed he stepped out of bounds).
Finally, coaches rewarded Carl Davis’ productive early-season play with the start at defensive tackle over Timmy Jernigan. Davis was average, however, recording just one tackle assist and a batted ball. He does well to get his hands up on pass plays, and he skillfully set up Brandon Williams’ sack, but failed to provide consistent interior penetration.
–Darren Waller had plenty of exposure with 18 snaps, but failed to make an impact on the game, tallying just a single yard on his only catch. He exited the game with a concussion.
– With the secondary again catching the injury bug, Tray Walker played eight snaps, mostly in overtime. He faced nearly all running plays as the Browns were pushing into closer field goal territory, but did get off a block and make a nice tackle on a completed pass.
With the season shaping up to be an extreme disappointment, the coaches will likely try to see what they have in several of these rookies in the coming weeks, starting this Sunday against the 49ers. If nothing else, it should make these rookie reports more interesting.