While The Offense Sputters
The Ravens earned their third consecutive victory in balmy conditions (to which my sunburn can attest) Sunday in Jacksonville. Several rookies made key contributions on defense, while the offensive rookies struggled a bit.
Michael Pierce was again disruptive along the interior defensive line, eating up blockers and recording both a QH in the fourth quarter and an outstanding solo tackle early in the first quarter where he easily shed his man and showed lateral quickness to bring down T.J. Yeldon.
Another exciting rookie is Tavon Young, who displayed solid cover skills and tracked a tipped ball to secure a key interception during the turnover fest that was the fourth quarter. He did, however, have a sloppy holding penalty on a punt that went out of bounds.
Matt Judon played well in limited snaps, with two plays that really stood out. He pressed well on the edge to flush Chris Ivory for a modest gain. It would’ve been nice to see him maintain outside leverage for just a second longer to secure a negative yardage play, but a solid effort nonetheless. Then, with 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Judon used a rip move to draw a key holding call that pushed the Jaguars back, setting up the game winning interception on the next play.
Even Kamalei Correa logged a few defensive snaps and made a good play on the ball in the first quarter, but dropped what seemed like a sure pick-six, causing Coach Harbaugh to promise that he will have Correa on the JUGS machine this week.
Willie Henry was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive week, while Maurice Canady was again limited to special teams duty. He did make a nice unassisted tackle to drop punt returner Rashad Greene for no gain.
First round pick Ronnie Stanley had a difficult day. He had a drive to forget at the end of the second quarter where he was twice beaten by the speed rush of the rookie DE from Maryland, Yannick Ngakoue. On one of the two plays, Stanley barely got a hand on Ngakoue as he recorded a strip sack of Flacco with 39 seconds left in the second quarter (Flacco recovered).
Stanley was also flagged twice in the fourth quarter, once for a false start and once for holding on a play where he actually delivered a good initial punch on Dante Fowler Jr. but stayed engaged far too long as the DE turned the corner.
Despite Baltimore’s struggles to run the ball, Stanley’s run blocking was decent, but because a lot should be expected from the talented left tackle, there are a couple of nits to pick. First, the former Golden Domer needs to get closer to his man before cut blocking in space to more convincingly wash out backside defenders. A second example of potential growth shows up on the below run play, where Terrence West was stopped for a gain of just two yards. Here, Alex Lewis will get play-side of Malik Jackson and Stanley and Crockett Gillmore establish an effective double team on Ngakoue.
But Paul Posluszny makes this tackle untouched because Stanley fails to peel off from the double team and pick up the linebacker.
Quick thinking and second-level blocking of this sort are the next steps in Stanley’s maturation.
Left guard Alex Lewis had a decent game, receiving a PFF grade of 72.0, fifth best on offense. He did well to pick up a few d-linemen twists thrown his way. Other than getting overpowered and knocked off balance by talented DT Malik Jackson for a QH early in the second quarter, Lewis was solid, if unspectacular.
After taking a vicious hit on the return of Flacco’s first interception, Lewis is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol, so we’ll monitor his progress this week to see if the rotation along the offensive line will shift for Week 4.
Finally, fourth-round pick Chris Moore caught just one ball for two yards.