Let’s start this week’s edition of The Ruling On The Field by saying I do not want to see John Hussey’s crew again this season.
Browns fans are still irate about the Unsportsmanlike Conduct call on Terrelle Pryor Sr for flipping a ball at Lardarius Webb, which I understand was ticky-tacky. BUT. But according to Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1-c of the NFL Rulebook, taunting includes “throwing or shoving the ball.” In that particular instance, it’s hard to determine intent, but by following the rulebook I believe John Hussey’s crew got it correct.
My bigger issue with this crew was Corey Coleman‘s first touchdown… well his first* touchdown I should say.
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) September 18, 2016
Imagine, if you will, that the officials got this right. Suddenly it’s 4th and 10 for the Browns at the Baltimore 31, they take a 45+ yard field goal attempt, and the momentum isn’t nearly as dire, especially if Browns kicker Patrick Murray had the same success rate that he did later in the game on his 52-yard attempt (partially blocked).
And maybe this is too harsh on the officials. After all, they’re only allowed to call what they see, but this points to a bigger issue: lack of cameras on the field. We have a goal line cam and a sideline cam and clearly, the image in Tony Lombardi’s tweet above is available to the public…so why is it not available to the officials? If we want to improve this game, we need to make every angle possible available, as to not botch major game changing calls.
Now, down to business.
Ravens Stay Clean
I’m a little shell shocked, but for the second week in a row, the Ravens have limited their penalties to a handful. Last week against the Browns, the Ravens accrued four penalties for 29 yards. THAT’S IT.
Coming off a six-penalty/35 yard game in Week 1, the Ravens are currently the 7th least penalized team in the NFL, and get this:
NO DEFENSIVE PASS INTERFERENCE CALLS!!
Here’s the Ravens log to date:
Last week against Cleveland, the Ravens accounted for two Illegal Shifts, a Neutral Zone Infraction, and a Chop Block. Again, that’s three of four penalties on the offense last week, and overall eight of 10 penalties on the offense through two weeks, with only two against the defense.
That said, let’s throw a shameless Twitter plug out there:
The @Ravens have only 2 defensive penalties thru 2 wks (d-hold, NZI).
Last season, BAL registered NINE d-penalties thru 2 wks…
— Adam Bonaccorsi (@AdamBMore) September 22, 2016
Hopefully the Ravens can continue this trend against a Jaguars team that struggles in the flag game…
JAGS FLAGS WOES
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been the antithesis of the Ravens in terms of penalties this season. While Baltimore is staying relatively clean, the Jags have been penalty riddled through two weeks. In fact, their 22 accepted penalties is good for the 3rd most in the NFL, behind only Detroit and Oakland (who the Ravens will see in Week 4).
Here’s a quick glimpse at the Jaguars penalty log:
(worth noting that ‘Offensive Holding’ is called on the Return Team for free kicks – kickoffs, punts, etc – thus the penalties on Ramsey, Johnson & Skuta).
Offensive Tackle Luke Joeckel leads the way with three penalties on the offensive side of the ball, while Jared Odrick on the defensive side of the ball accounts for two penalties, with three total flags (one declined).
The amount of defensive penalties committed by the Jaguars – 11 of the 22 accepted penalties – should be alarming for Jacksonville, especially considering half of those calls resulted in 1st downs for the opposition.
This Week’s Officiating Crew
Gene Steratore & his crew have the duties in this week’s Ravens & Jaguars matchup.
The best news about this crew? It’s not Pete Morelli.
Yanno, the same Pete Morelli who called the facemask against Elvis Dumervil that resulted in the game-winning field goal in last season’s 22-20 Ravens loss to the very same Jags? Also, the same Pete Morelli who failed to flag the Jags offense for an Illegal Shift after the offensive line did not properly set prior to the snap that resulted in Doom’s facemask call?
Yea, not him.
Steratore hasn’t been horrible for the Ravens in the least. In his last three Ravens games, Steratore is averaging five penalties called against Baltimore, for 38.6 penalty yards per game, which is pretty much on par for the Ravens through two weeks of the 2016 season.
Jacksonville, on the other hand, has only seen Steratore’s crew once since midway through the 2012 season. In their most recent game with Gene Steratore at the helm (December 2015), the Jags committed six penalties for a lowly 21 penalty yards.
Ravens @ Jags- What To Expect
I think it’s fair to assume Baltimore will continue with minimal penalties, say somewhere in the 4-5 range once again, while Jacksonville could be in for a double digit penalty game.
While Jacksonville’s offense poses an ample threat, they’re only averaging 18.5 ppg through two weeks against average-at-best defenses in Green Bay and San Diego. Couple that with the potential loss of C Brandon Linder (knee) and LT Kelvin Beachum, and I believe the Ravens will have a field day going after Blake Bortles, likely drawing a few offensive holds along the way (also very likely the Ravens get caught with a roughing the passer call at some point).
As long as Baltimore can continue to keep pressuring the quarterback – specifically going after Luke Joeckel who could slide to LT – and not allowing time for routes to set up downfield, the secondary should continue to avoid downfield contact penalties as well.
On the other side of the ball, deep threats Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman should pressure the mangled Jaguars secondary into a grab or two, while the Ravens offensive line will continue to be stout against a Jacksonville defense that’s only registered four sacks through two games. With Jacksonville allowing an average of 32.5 ppg and being unable to draw any penalties from opponents along the way (eight drawn penalties, good for fewest in the NFL), the Ravens offense should prove to be potent and relatively clean.
All of this is great news for Baltimore, as long as everybody remembers DON’T GRAB THE FACEMASK ON THE FINAL PLAY OF THE GAME.