Rookie Report – Week 13
What a shame. Despite Javorius Allen putting on the best rookie performance of the Ravens’ entire season, Nick Boyle’s season-ending suspension yesterday cemented this year’s rookie class as an overall failure. Allen is the only rookie who has been active for every game this season, which is an utter disappointment. The Ravens dropped another winnable game in Miami Sunday, dropping them to 4-8.
Flat out, Buck Allen was a stud this weekend. His staggering 12 receptions put him second all-time in Ravens single-game history. Allen took those 12 catches for 107 yards and added 63 yards on the ground.
It’s nice for a young kid who does things the right way to get rewarded with such an impactful performance and a bit of national acknowledgement. Allen has improved his footwork—especially when there is a bit of penetration, he uses quick feet to escape defenders on his own side of the line of scrimmage. He also displayed maturity by wisely getting out of bounds on back-to-back catches in the first half two-minute drill.
Allen occasionally runs just a bit too high, and he is still working on his cutback timing. For instance, I thought that this off-tackle run on the Ravens first offensive play of the game could have been cut up sooner.
I’m probably just nitpicking because he’s so explosive and fun to watch when he eventually finds the open lane.
Allen is demonstrating that he is a complete player and a fantastic pass-catching back. Matt Schaub, as a backup quarterback, is understandably reliant on short dump-off passes to Allen. But moving forward, Joe Flacco has demonstrated that he too will involve the running back in the passing game, as Ray Rice maintained an impressive four-catch/game rate in his time with the Ravens. Allen can become a Rice-type weapon in the passing game.
The obvious capstone to his strong performance was Buck’s magical 41-yard touchdown catch where he had 39 yards of work to do upon catching the flare, making countless defenders miss up the right sideline. The downfield blocking on that play, by the way, was provided by fellow rookies Daniel Brown and Nick Boyle who both provided effective seals, if not devastating blocks.
Early in the game, the Dolphins did not appear to make a priority of covering Allen out of the backfield. But later, the threat of Allen as both a runner and pass catcher allowed the Ravens to dictate the action and soften zone coverage. In the fourth quarter, the Ravens ran a play similar to Allen’s touchdown where Kyle Juszczyk motioned into the backfield to set up is an offset-I formation. Juszczyk will block and Allen will flare quickly to the outside.
A quick play-fake combined with Allen turning his head back as a potential pass catcher results in the linebackers keying on Buck and abandoning their intermediate zones. There are acres of space in the middle of the field and Matt Schaub uses a clean throwing window to deliver a pass to Daniel Brown up the seam for his first NFL catch of 17 yards.
Speaking of Brown, I don’t care what the officials had to say, the undrafted rookie caught his first ever touchdown on an earlier 52-yard pitch and catch. Brown recorded a +1.1 PFF grade on 19 snaps, consistently gave great effort, and although he likely won’t make the roster next year when Baltimore’s receivers get a bit healthier, he plays like a Raven.
Boyle caught 3 passes for 15 yards, but had a poor day blocking, leading to a -2.0 PFF rating. Boyle has nevertheless been a bright spot amongst this questionable batch of rookies, and his four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs is a surprise and disappointment to fans and teammates who have come to love his hard-nosed, industrious playing style. With both Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams dealing with injuries, the tight end position is all of a sudden a depth liability.
- I thought Za’Darius Smith played better than I’ve seen recently, getting some penetration against the pass, and smartly diagnosing run plays on his 12 snaps. He did, however, blatantly fail to set the edge on a 17-yard run by Lamar Miller.
- Carl Davis was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Tray Walker was also inactive, continuing his difficult rookie campaign.