It’s been a long time since I can recall entering the first preseason game so worried about the Ravens.
Most of that stomach acid is a function of the offensive line attrition suffered in camp to date. Let’s review.
For the preseason, I find it helpful to record the offensive linemen by series. I didn’t notice any mid-series changes, but these are the 5 offensive linemen for the first play of each series.
Some notes on the OL rotation:
— Yanda did not play although he has begun team drills in practice.
— Austin Howard has yet to practice and also sat out this game.
— Alex Lewis has missed at least 4 straight practices. I hope it’s not serious, but fear the worst.
— Stanley looked outstanding in 4 series.
— Jermaine Eluemunor had an extended trial at both LG and RG. He looked lost at times, but moved well enough to connect on some pulls.
— Ryan Jensen looked solid in pass protection in his first start at center. He did not allow any converted pressure up the middle, nor did he give any appreciable ground to compress the pocket. He appeared less sure of whom to block on some of the early run plays, but settled down for 3 consecutive excellent efforts beginning with West’s 18-yard run (Q1, 4:48) and culminating with the TD 2 plays later. The Ravens need another lineman, but this was a fine start at center.
— Stephane Nembot, who had been practicing with the 3rd OL unit played the entire 2nd half at RT. Without a snap-by-snap analysis, it’ dangerous to conclude, but he looked shaky and was flagged for holding (declined) near the goal line.
— De’Ondre Wesley allowed a flush that set up a sack and was beaten straight up for another versus the Washington twos. He also made an ill-advised cut block on a much smaller man (Q4, 13:25) where he could have maintained his feet.
— Roman’s blocking schemes are far more complex than I had anticipated. Case in point: (Q2, 6:44) had several crossed blocking attempts with C and RT blocking to the right while RG Skura blocked to the left. It appeared FB Ortiz was a cleanup guy.
— There are a number of 1-gap (same-side) pulls where, for instance, a Guard will pull only past the tackle or the Tackle will pull past the TE. There were also a fair number of the traditional past-the-center pulls. Eluemunor in particular was asked to execute a number of such plays.
— Whether by scheme or talent, there were fewer combination blocks than I am used to seeing for this many run plays. The absence of Yanda (who often has 2-4 highlight combination blocks in a game) probably played a role as well.
Individual Grades and Notes
As in past years, I have given a number of Ravens a grade from +3 to -3 reflecting how much my expectation of their impact on the 2017 Ravens changed based on their performance Thursday. I don’t rate starters, players who have no place on the team, or anyone for whom I don’t think I have any data for a judgment. The players here are new to the team, rookies, on the cusp of making the team, have new responsibilities in 2017, in positional battles, or have otherwise have something to prove this season.
Adeboyejo (+1): Among 5 targets (including a flag), he caught a 10-yard slant, a 14-yard pass between the numbers and right hash, and drew a 37-yard DPI down the right sideline which drew 4 separate flags on Tevin Homer. He’s a lot bigger (6’3”, 197 lbs) than Tim White, which may give him the advantage for a final WR roster spot.
Allen, J. (Buck) (0): He had 11 touches (8 rush, 3 pass) for 32 yards, most of which came after the Redskins starters departed. I can’t paint that positively and it reminds me of his inability to generate big plays last preseason.
Beyer (0): He played ILB in the 2nd half and made 1 tackle. Any hope to make the team has to come from being a top special teams tackler.
Board (0): He made an outstanding catch on the only ball thrown to him for a 36-yard gain (Q4, 2:00), but his chance to make the team looks bleak with solid play from both Adeboyejo and White.
Bowser (+3): He’s the first of several defenders (alphabetically) to get excited about. He made fine plays in 3 phases in a long outing:
— (Q1, 9:05) He filled well to make the tackle of Samaje Perine for a gain of 1.
— (Q1, 8:24) He generated pressure off a spin move versus LT Ty Nsekhe as McCoy threw incomplete.
— (Q1, 8:18) He dropped laterally to foil a WR screen left to Hazel, taking the receiver down for no gain with 2 blockers in front.
— (Q2, 14:17) He had tight coverage of Derek Carrier on an out route and took him down for a gain of 3 (1 +2 YAC) by the right sideline.
— (Q2, 0:28) His stunt beat RB Perine for a QH as McCoy threw the ball that would be intercepted by Hill.
— (Q3, 5:58) He held the right edge well vs. Manasseh Garner, which helped allow Wormley to take down Matt Jones for a loss of 1.
Urban’s effort was a little better, but there’s a lot to be happy about the Ravens’ 2nd-round draft pick.
Boykin (0): It looks to me Brandon is in a struggle with Jaylen Hill for the backup slot role and Hill has shown more on the outside. It’s a good problem to have excess corners and the Ravens can only hope they still do by final cuts.
Campanaro (0): Campy didn’t return any kicks or punts, but don’t let that fool you – both jobs are his to lose. As a receiver he did not adjust well to an underthrow from Mallett despite being unchallenged by coverage (Q1, 12:44). He was also unable to deflect or haul in a high throw that was nearly intercepted (Q2, 0:49). He separated quickly to the outside on a 10-yard catch and drew a 23-yard pass interference flag on Holsey when he had him beat down the right sideline. With the emergence of White and Abeboyejo, he still does not have a secure roster spot.
Clark (0): It’s unusual for the Ravens to cut a draft pick and Clark delivered a QH (Q3, 0:38) and made a nice open field tackle for no YAC (Q3, 11:42) which should help him solidify a core special teams role. In both round (6th) and size (6’, 210 lbs), he fits the mold of an Ozzie Newsome dime even if unable to find a starting spot on the back end.
Correa (-1): With the defense playing so well around him, it’s easy to miss the fact that Correa struggled to get off blocks or make an impact in any other phase. He had 1 tackle when he came unblocked off the offensive right side to take down Perine for a gain of 1 on a 4th down play. The officials did not measure, but the ball appeared short of a conversion from our position. Correa was otherwise pinballed around by linemen on run plays. If I had to pick a single biggest concern from Week P1, it would be the play of Correa.
Daniel (0): He was flagged for holding on a punt return, but was solid in coverage. In particular, he had good coverage of Carrier as McClellan delivered a QH (Q2, 6:57). With most of the outside CB spots mostly accounted for (Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey), Daniel, Sheldon Price, Jaylen Hill, and perhaps Trevin Wade are all competing based on what else they can do. I don’t think Robertson is a SCB candidate, so he’ll need Rosburg as an advocate for his play on special teams.
Davis (+1): Carl played well after his illegal use of hands (Q1, 1:32) negated a run for no gain. Subsequently, he beat RG Tyler Catalina for a pressure (Q2, 8:24), penetrated to blow up Matt Jones for a loss of 1 (Q2, 7:45), and blew by Catalina again for a QH (Q4, 6:45). It’s good to see him making plays again for the first time since early in his rookie year, particularly as a pass rusher.
Eluemunor (0): See above. Mixed effort, but his spot is secure with the losses the Ravens have suffered on the offensive line.
Henry (+2): Willie is another defensive player who was effective. Many elite pass rushers study karate or other martial arts as a way to improve hand fighting. Henry simply swings his arms like a pair of clubs to break free of linemen, a technique that appeared more successful when combined with his terrific first step. He steamrolled C Chase Roullier to blow up Jones for a gain of 1 and had 4 pressures as I scored it (Q2, 7:03 and Q3, 6:20 and Q4, 14:23 and Q4, 6:03), the last of which was negated by Boykin’s hold. The Ravens have generated limited interior pressure since the departure of McPhee, but no less than 4 young players (Urban, Davis, Kaufusi, and Henry) made solid pressure contributions versus the Redskins.
Hill (+2): He did a lot of things well and his play corroborates opportunities from practice where it seems as if he’s ahead of Boykin for the backup nickel role. He just missed a diving interception (Q1, 3:24), generated pressure off a SCB blitz (Q1, 2:30), penetrated for a run stuff negated by penalty (Q1, 1:32), and had tight coverage of Robert Davis down the right sideline (Q1, 0:35), all prior to his interception (Q2, 0:28). He delivered a big hit on Garner (Q4, 14:20) which separated the Redskins TE from the football, but was not credited with a PD. As a rookie, he has a built-in advantage over Boykin in terms of team control.
Hurst (0): See above. Both his pressure and sack allowed came in 18 plays at LT after a fine effort on the first 4 drives (21 plays) at RT. I noted 2 solid run blocks in his time at RT, including one that helped pave the way for West’s 18-yard run. He did not allow a pressure on the right side. It’s going to be interesting to see how the team deals with Hurst. He’s going to play a significant amount for the 2017 Ravens. That may be at guard if Austin Howard wins the starting RT job, as the starting RT, or as a backup when injuries inevitably occur.
Jefferson (N/A): The Ravens brought him up close to the LoS only once that I noted and that was on a short-yardage play. He’s a cornerstone player, so my only comments will be about usage and there’s no sense in me grading him.
Jensen (+1): See above. The Ravens needed a solid performance from him to help solidify the line and they got it. I don’t think every question has been answered, but he did nothing that would imperil his starting role.
Judon (0): He’s moved to SAM and it’s going to be interesting to see how Pees rotates him with Bowser. He might be a good candidate to move inside, but injuries have a way of resolving such situations.
Kaufusi (+3): Like Urban, he played the run and pass well, including setting the edge, a pair of pressures, and a sack (Q4, 4:07). While I don’t think he played quite as well as Urban, his +3 rating is a function of returning from a rookie season lost to injury. The Ravens have DL depth to trade, but I don’t look at Kaufusi and Urban as competing 5-techs, but more as valuable rotation players who can both provide problems with their size and could play anywhere inside on passing downs. While they are edge rushers, think about the difficulty the Bengals have given the Ravens with Carlos Dunlap, Margus Hunt, and Michael Johnson. In division, Andy Dalton has been susceptible to pressure from larger pass rushers.
Levine (+2): He’s now 30 years old and the Ravens derive value from him simply on special teams and as a backup safety. However, for the umpteenth time, I am going to take his insertion in the dime package and immediate sack (Q1, 14:12) as an indication Pees will embrace it as a defensive option despite 5 years of 3% dime snaps. Anthony’s sack was an impressive leaping athletic move to beat RB Chris Thompson from a double-A gap look, not a schemed free run. That should make it all the more obvious there aren’t many linebackers who can provide what he does as a dime on passing downs.
Malleck (0): He was not targeted, so his grade is a function of his blocking. I noticed 2 decent downfield blocks (Q4, 12:50 and Q4, 12:08), but he and Eluemunor stood around flat footed while Mizzell tried to make a play on the botched shotgun snap (Q3, 1:59).
Mallett (-1): My expectations weren’t high, but he found a way to limbo under them even without a turnover. He’s reduced his emoting, but 58 yards on 18 drop backs with the time he had is downright bad. Most of his throws were high and he gave the Redskins at least 2 interception opportunities they failed to convert (Q1, 9:19 and Q2, 0:49).
Matthews (0): He was targeted just once (Q2, 9:26) but the ball didn’t arrive on time and was knocked away for a PD.
Mizzell (+2): I noticed some explosiveness at camp, but he displayed ability to run with a variety of styles on Thursday night. He was the team’s most effective RB despite a modest 3.4 YPC.
Moore (0): His only catch was an 11-yard gain (2 + 9 YAC, Q2, 10:40) where he forced a missed tackle.
Nembot (0): See above. Neither he nor Wesley looks ready to step in at tackle, even on an emergency basis.
Onwuasor (0): Love his effort, hate his size for ILB. Perhaps some team can find a role for him.
Ortiz (+1): Rickey made a handful of solid lead blocks, including chopping down a defender on West’s TD leap. He also had a first down plunge, and caught a ball for 2 yards. That’s not a lot, but as a UDFA, he’s 4 years of cheap labor with some talent. The chance of the Ravens keeping a pure FB went up significantly when injuries to Pitta and Gillmore required Boyle’s talents to be focused as a pure TE.
Porter (0): He hasn’t looked good at practice, so I’m not expecting him to win a crowded race for roster spot at CB. I did make a positive coverage note for him (Q3, 11:06).
Rainey (0): He played briefly in the 2nd half, but did not distinguish himself with 4 carries for 12 yards and no catches. He remains on the bubble.
Reynolds (+1): The punt return was a classic outkicked coverage (59-yard punt returned 45). Keenan’s field vision was good to follow the open seam, but he didn’t have the speed or elusiveness to finish.
Ricard (0): He was mischarged with Davis’ illegal use of hands flag when he wasn’t even on the field. Some team is going to want this guy, but I don’t think it can be the Ravens with their current DL depth. He won’t make it through waivers to the practice squad.
Skura (0): He had an opportunity for extensive playing time. My expectation is that Skura will make the team as a backup guard/center. He’s getting additional attention in practice which tell me the Ravens intend to keep him and after what could be 3 significant OL losses (Urschel—retirement, Siragusa—lost for season, and Lewis—missed 4 practices), it’s not apparent who else is a candidate to be the top interior backup.
Smith, Z. (+1): He had 2 pressures, drew a holding call, and held the edge on a run play. Welcome back, ZDS. Hope you have some great pictures from your vacation last fall.
Taliaferro (-1): He’s already in a deep hole in terms of the fullback competition. As a 4th-year player, his option value is nearly gone, so he has to outplay UDFA Ricky Ortiz significantly to win the job. That didn’t happen Thursday, including an embarrassing pancake (Q1, 5:10) he suffered at the hands of Zach Brown.
Urban (+3): Easily the player of the game for the Ravens. He played against the best Washington linemen and made them look bad in a performance that earned list review:
— (Q1, 14:12) He bulled former 1st-round pick Brandon Scherff for a pressure to assist Levine’s sack.
— (Q1, 11:11) He was in quickly for first contact on Rob Kelly who Pierce cleaned up for a loss of 4.
— (Q1, 9:05) He held the edge well, allowing Bowser to fill to take down Perine for a gain of 1.
— (Q1, 8:24) He generated pressure off a twist as McCoy threw incomplete.
— (Q1, 3:17) He delivered a cleanup sack of McCoy and forced a fumble off Pierce’s flush.
— (Q2, 13:39) He penetrated to set the right edge and forced a fumble by Perine for a loss of 4.
That is an unusual number of splash plays for a 17-minute period from an interior DL.
Vaughn (0): No expectation, no results under difficult circumstances. The 2nd set of offensive linemen were poor in pass protection.
Wade (+1): He displayed good ability to get his hands on the football including fighting through offensive pass interference (Q4, 4:57) to do so. His dropped interception (Q4, 14:23) turned a potential big positive play into just a small positive. He’s a smaller guy who could figure into the backup SCB discussion if he can play both inside and outside effectively. The Ravens are using both Hill and Boykin in such roles, so he’s in competition for SCB snaps.
Webb (N/A): He is the Ravens starting nickel barring injury. His versatility to play on the back end creates some intriguing additional options on passing downs, but SCB is where I expect he’ll stay. I’m going to drop him from next week’s scoring, since he’s not in competition for a role.
Wesley (-2): Not ready. See above.
West (0): He ran the ball effectively, but dropped a pass that could have been intercepted. He’ll probably be the starter vs. Cincinnati, but it’s looking more and more like he’ll never have a camp where he won’t have to fight for his role.
Whalen (0): He had a first down reception on his only target (Q3, 9:30).
White (+1): Tim is being given every chance to make the team. He returned both kickoffs and punts. He was inserted for a sweep on the Ravens’ 2nd offensive play (Q1, 13:24), and he made a nice adjustment on a 33-yard TD pass from Woodrum (Q3, 0:11) after beating CB Jeremiah McKinnon (who never did find the ball). White is 5’10”, 175, but he plays bigger and all 3 QBs have come to trust him to close on the football well when in man coverage. I expect him to make the team, but watching how PR and KR reps are doled out may give the strongest indication.
Williams, M. (-2): I’m not seeing anything to like. He’s too slow and doesn’t block well. If his hands were great, it still wouldn’t be enough.
Williams, T. (-1): He’s a pure pass rusher drafted specifically for his ability to win 1-on-1 battles versus OTs. I recorded Williams for 1 pressure (Q3, 4:54) which occurred on a stunt, but I was wholly unimpressed with him as a 1-on-1 pass rusher versus the Washington tackles. Since he didn’t enter until the 2nd half, that’s not a good thing. Tim did draw a holding call on TE Garner (Q3, 6:49), but he also lost the left edge on Perine’s 11-yard run (Q3, 13:01).
Woodrum (0): He was better than Vaughn, and stood in well on the TD pass to White. I just don’t believe the Ravens backup QB is currently on the roster if any questions about Flacco’s health linger to the regular season.
Wormley (+1): He contributed a slow-developing pressure and a TFL in the 2nd half. We often will leave an exhibition game sometime in Q3 to go home and begin our analysis, but we didn’t do so versus the Skins because the Ravens had a talented front 5 in for the entire 2nd half that included Tim Williams, Bowser, and 3 defensive linemen many other teams would love to have.