Watching the 2017 Ravens preseason reminds me a lot of Orioles doubleheaders in the 1970s.
Under Earl Weaver, those Orioles teams were built to win a high percentage of doubleheader games with a combination of top starting pitching, platooning, individual matchups (they finally stopped calling batter vs. pitcher statistics the “Earl Weaver Stats” in the 1990s), and “deep depth”.
The 2017 Ravens have a wealth of defensive depth which has made them potent in the first half of preseason games and overwhelming in the 2nd.
If only the games that count allowed for this roster size and required a spreading of snaps.
For the preseason, I find it helpful to record the offensive linemen by series. Again, 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 been practicing some team drills.
— Austin Howard was rusty and ponderously slow in his Ravens debut. He was bulled for a penetration by William Hayes to blow up West’s run for a loss of 4 (Q2, 11:57), was beaten cleanly to the outside by Hayes (Q2, 12:41), and had a thoroughly ineffective/unnecessary holding in L2 (Q2, 9:54). He also recovered one of the Ravens’ 3 fumbles, but that sill adds up as a bad outing for 23 snaps.
— Jarrod Pughsley played the entire game (79 snaps) despite the heat. This was odd for several reasons. First, Jermaine Eluemunor was back at practice this week and started last week. As a draft pick, this was a big depth-chart demotion for Jermaine if it was not solely related to his injury status. Anyway, Pughsley was rewarded by facing Ndamukong Suh, who overwhelmed him on the first drive of the game. He moved to center for the final 3 series of the game. The Ravens could have used recently-acquired guard Derrick Nelson to spell Pugs, but did not.
— Eluemunor played the last 3 series (the Gamebook lists him with 27 snaps, so he must have left at some point). I didn’t score his play fully, but noted 2 highlight blocks, a combination on 4th and 1 (Q3, 2:56), and a pull to lead Taliaferro’s 9-yard run (Q3, 0:17).
— As I often say, OL scoring is not anecdotal in nature. Starting linemen have more gradable trials in a season than baseball players have at bats. That said, Hurst looked good to me aside from the holding call (Q2, 5:50). He had 2 nice seals on runs to the left (Q1, 12:03 and Q1, 7:47). I plan to go back and look at his play more closely.
— Ryan Jensen had a mixed outing, but I have him scored for 2 highlight blocks as well some anecdotal difficulties in the run game and the false start. As with Hurst, I want to refrain from grading until I’ve reviewed every play. However, Baltimore area message boards must be going ballistic with the notion that Jensen and Hurst were probably the Ravens 2 best healthy linemen last night.
— The line took 3 holding and 3 false start penalties as a unit, but allowed just 3 QHs and no sacks.
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. The grade after the “/” is a total for the preseason to date. 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 (-2/-1): He had a hand in both interceptions. He failed to separate on the pass deep left (Q1, 1:11). Whether that was because he slowed when he looked back or simply didn’t have the speed to beat Xavier Howard, it doesn’t reflect well. The interception by Tankersley (Q2, 1:19) was thrown behind him, but he couldn’t get control of the football before it was pried loose. As was pointed out on the broadcast, Quincy is competing with players at other positions for a roster spot. Going forward, I’d like to see some better demonstration of speed and an ability to break off routes.
Allen, J. (+1/0): Buck took a step forward with 10 rushes for 40 yards, and 3 catches for 16, much of which came after contact. However, his most important play was a cut block on DE Martin-Ogulke which also obstructed LB Reilly on Mallett’s slow-developing TD pass to Larry Donnell (Q2, 2:58).
Beyer (-1/-1): He played only 2 snaps defensively after 17 in the opener. Both Payne (10 snaps) and Bam Bradley (27), 2 ILBs with whom he is completing, got more playing time.
Board (0/0): He found an open spot in the zone late in the game for a gain of 20 on his only target, but he played just 12 snaps on offense and 5 on special teams.
Bowser (0/+3): Looking back to the opener, it sure felt like he was on the field or more than 18 plays defensively. He played 14 versus the Dolphins without a true splash, but I liked his diving INT attempt that was swatted down by Moore (Q2, 1:32).
Boykin (-1/-1): DNP. His chance for a roster spot is dimming as the Ravens gave an extended trial at SCB to Trevin Wade.
Bradley (+1/+1): He put some nice plays on tape versus the Dolphins and is more willing to gamble on a gap than Correa. In 27 snaps, he made 2 nice tackles had 2 passes defensed (Q4, 5:58 and Q4, 0:04), only 1 of which was credited. He also missed a tackle. He’s thicker than Onwuasor at 5’11”, 237. If Correa had to be replaced internally, Bradley could very well be the guy.
Campanaro (+1/+1): He didn’t shine in returns (1 PR for 4 yards + 2 FCs), but put his speed to use on offense with 5 touches for 46 yards, including an end around for 11 yards and 4 short receptions for 35 yards on 4 targets.
Clark (0/0): Clark had another mixed game on the back end including a face mask on a play where he failed to bring down Perry. He had a quick tackle of WR Stringfellow to hold him to a gain of 5 with 0 YAC (Q3, 10:04). He led the Ravens in special teams snaps with 12 and I don’t believe his roster spot is in any jeopardy.
Correa (0/-1): Analysis of Correa may be worth a piece of its own at some point. He played 24 snaps and despite 2 nice plays, I noticed a preponderance of tentative movement. Last season, Zach Orr played fast and led the team in tackles in part by aggressively moving to fill a gap vs. the run, rather than pondering the best possible gap to shoot. Correa plays alongside a swarming, physical defense which will be most effective versus the run when he runs to take on a blocker near the line of scrimmage, allowing his teammates to make a play. He did this twice that I noted. He took on Jermaine Bushrod at the LoS (Q1, 14:55) which helped blow up Ajayi for a gain of just 1. He also filled the right C gap to blow up Damien Williams for no gain as Za’Darius Smith pursued to make the tackle from the back side.
On the other side of the ledger, Kamalei missed a tackle on Ajayi leading to a first down after contact (Q1, 14:31). Rather than bull or move quickly to either shoulder of RB Williams as he blitzed (Q1, 9:31), he stutter stepped as if to juke and lost an opportunity to pressure Cutler. Despite being unblocked, he didn’t close on RB Perry (Q1, 1:03) which resulted in a 4-yard gain.
Daniel (-1/-1): DNP on defense. He had 3 special teams snaps. I haven’t heard any injury news, but I certainly would have expected him to see action given his practice this week and a tight race for the last CB spots.
Davis (+1/+2): Carl played well and the roster picture on the DL was significantly complicated on Thursday night. In list form:
— (Q2, 2:52) He bulled LG Jesse Davis to help blow up Perry for no gain.
— (Q3, 11:07) He generated pressure on a short pass to the right.
— (Q4, 6:34) He penetrated unblocked to blow up RB Johnson for a loss of 3, and appeared to be injured slipping on the turf.
— (Q4, 0:04) He returned to deliver a QH on the game’s final play that went uncredited in the Gamebook.
That’s a lot of splash for 16 snaps on the defensive interior and it’s nice to see him impact the passing game. My grade is tempered only by the quality of opponents.
Donnell (+1/+1): The Ravens need red zone targets and Donnell looks like he may have the hands for the job.
Eluemunor (0/0): See above.
Henry (0/+2): Willie had 2 more impressive plays, one of which was negated by roughing the passer/taunting fouls (Q3, 10:24). He rolled over RT Eric Smith, almost disrupted the handoff, and blew up Perry’s run for just 1 yard (Q4, 14:40). Let’s hope he still has few enough demerits to avoid the doghouse, because he is a disruptive force.
Hill (+3/+5): Hill led the team in tackles with just 3 as the Ravens allowed just 51 offensive plays. In list form:
–(Q2, 4:35): He had a PD to deny 3rd and 4 (Q2, 4:35) on tight bracket coverage of WR Grant with Levine.
— (Q2, 2:00): He had a PD to deny 3rd and 4 (is there an echo in here?).
— (Q2, 1:40): He allowed a 2-yard completion and immediately pushed WR Lewis out of bounds.
— (Q3, 10:10): He had tight coverage of Stringfellow 35 yards down the left sideline, INC.
— (Q3, 9:34): He forced QB Fales out of bounds after a gain of 4 to deny 3rd and 5.
— (Q3, 8:53): He again had tight coverage of Stringfellow between the numbers and left hash as Fales threw wide on 4th and 1.
— (Q3, 6:04): He penetrated the backfield and forced RB Johnson wide on a run left as he missed the tackle. However, the delay allowed Tim Williams to pursue to make the tackle for a gain of 2 to deny 3rd and 14.
He was the Ravens defensive player of the game and has moved to a roster lock as I see it. It was very interesting to me that Pees flip-flopped positions for Hill and Wade. Hill (34 snaps) played exclusively on the outside and Wade (26 snaps) exclusively in the slot when they were in together.
Humphrey (0, 0): The Gamebook lists him for 6 snaps on defense and 3 on special teams. I hope there is not an injury reason for the short night.
Hurst (NA/0): See above. His chance to impact the team improved this week, but I want to refrain from a grade until I do a play-by-play review. With Howard looking so rusty, it might make sense to move him inside and return Hurst to RT when Stanley returns.
Jensen (NA/+1): See above. Also refraining from a grade until I review by play.
Judon (0/0): He played 26 snaps as the SAM and played well against the Miami starters. He drew a holding call on RT Sam Young to negate the Dolphins longest play of the night (31 yards, Q1, 13:01). After Young moved to LT, Judon bulled him or a pressure and PD (Q2, 1:32). The Ravens depth on the DL and at OLB is a good problem to have.
Kaufusi (0/+3): He had a light workload (14 snaps) as the Ravens held the Dolphins offense to just 17 net yards on 18 plays in the 2nd half.
Levine (0/+2): He played the dime for a handful of snaps on the Dolphins first 3 possessions before taking a turn on the back end for 12-14 of his 17 snaps. He appeared to deliver a QH (Q1, 0:25) as Fales threw for a 13-yard completion, but it was not credited in the Gamebook. He had fine bracket coverage of Grant with Jaylen Hill by the left sideline (Q2, 4:35). If this were the first preseason game, he’d earn a positive score for this game, but I have already factored in all the belief I can that Dean Pees will follow up with the dime during the regular season.
Malleck (0/0): No notes this week.
Mallett (-1/-2): He essentially duplicated the bad game against the skins with 2 interceptions that could be partially blamed on Adeboyejo. He’s dropped back 41 times for 171 net yards in 2 games. Neither 4.2 YPP or an interception rate of almost 5% will cut it. He’s now had at least 3 other passes which were high INT risk, but went uncollected.
Matthews (0/0): He rushed unabated for his punt block as the Dolphins were confused, but opportunities often arise for such things on special teams. His best chance to make the team is probably to emerge as a red zone threat. Several receivers are moving backwards. He and others need Flacco back at practice to move forward.
Mizzell (0/+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 (-1/-1): I don’t have a problem with the 1-handed attempt down the right sideline, but he lost points for fumbling the ball on the end around, even out of bounds (Q3, 3:59).
Nembot (0/0): DNP.
Onwuasor (0/0): He had a QH (Q2, 4:35) and primary tackle credit on a play blown up by Ricard (Q3, 7:12) for a loss of 1. Correa still looks lost at ILB, but I think it’s more likely the Ravens address the need by trade or pickup at cut time if they think Kamalei isn’t ready. Onwuasor should still make the roster for special teams.
Ortiz (0/+1): Rickey converted a 4th down for the second straight game (Q3, 2:56). He had nice lead blocks on both Rainey’s 12-yard run (Q3, 5:15) and Taliaferro’s 9-yrd run (Q3, 0:17).
Payne (0/0): He forced the fumble recovered by Tucker (Q2, 8:00) then was first down on the following kickoff to make an open-field tackle at the 17 (Q2, 5:42). He’s another smallish ILB (5’11”, 226) who’s accumulating some good film.
Porter (0/0): No notes and still no chance to make the roster.
Rainey (0/0): It was nice to see him break off a 12-yard run. He’s someone who will probably get a call at midseason by some team as injuries mount.
Reynolds (0/+1): He played 18 snaps yet was not targeted nor did he have an offensive touch. He made a fair catch on his only punt return.
Ricard (+1/+1): His play complicates the defensive line depth chart. We are not supposed to talk about formations/scheme we observe at practice, but the cat is out of the bag now. It was funny to see him wear a white jersey at FB with the offense where all the other offensive players wear purple for practice. He played 5 snaps with the offense, splitting time between FB and TE. He pancaked LB Trevor Reilly to lead Allen’s 14-yard run left (Q2, 10:31).
Whoever #91 on the Ravens is got out years of anger from being blamed by linebackers out in one night. pic.twitter.com/Y1VIO0g3do
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) August 18, 2017
On defense, he bulled, then shed LG Asiata to blow up then get the tackle assist on Johnson’s run left for a loss of 1 (Q3, 7:12). I don’t think Ricard is the only guy they could try in this role, but he’s getting the first shot.
Skura (-1/0): He regressed from solid game against the Skins, including 2 penalties. I believe his spot is still secure given the Ravens tenuous depth on the OL, but he, Jensen, and Zuttah essentially play the same swing interior role.
Smith, Z. (+2/ +3): He was a close 2nd to Hill for the Ravens defensive player of the game. In 31 snaps, he had 2 QHs, 1 pressure, drew a holding call on Sam Young, and made a tackle from the opposite side on a play blown up by Correa. He lost points for 2 run plays where he was at the point of attack. I thought he ran himself out of the TD run by Perry despite penetration by Pierce, but a lot of things went wrong on that play. The rush LB spot is heating up, but it’s always nice to have 3 and the luxury to get creative with scheme.
Taliaferro (0/-1): Even with some runs near the goal line, I can’t get excited about 6 carries for 15 yards. He remains on the bubble.
Urban (+1/+4): It wasn’t as loud as his last game, but Urban was again very good with 3 pressures and penetration to blow up a run play in 30 snaps.
Wade (+1/+2): He looked good in 26 snaps exclusively at SCB. I only made 1 note for good inside position vs. WR Drew Morgan 20 yards down the right sideline (Q2, 1:36).
Wesley (+1/-1): He had a better pass blocking game in week P2 and was not penalized. That’s a significant improvement. The Ravens may well keep him as their 9th lineman.
West (-1/-1): The fumble is a setback as are the 7 touches for 4 total yards. The RB about whom the Ravens should get excited hasn’t arrived yet and he might be scared to until the OL is solidified.
Whalen (0/0): He had another catch for 8 yards, but nothing that will help him make the roster.
White (-1/0): DNP. Lost for the season. This was a terrific crop of UDFAs. Even with the loss of White, I believe more than one will make the team and at least 1 is going to play a significant role.
Williams, M. (+2/0): He had a fine game and the thing I liked best was the broken/dragging tackles on the long gain (Q3, 8:49). He had 37 yards after the stiff arm on that play. He also broke 2 tackles on a previous 3rd down conversion (Q2, 1:09). Woodrum owes him dinner for helping to inflate his passing numbers.
Williams, T. (+2/+1): That’s what we were looking for! By list:
— (Q3, 9:34): He chased Fales left from the pocket and forced a run with a diving miss. Hill knocked him OOB short of conversion.
— (Q3, 6:04): He took down Johnson for a gain of just 2 with pursuit across the formation.
— (Q4, 6:45): He registered his first NFL sack when he swam past LT Jesse Davis to the inside the bounced off the chip from LG Isaac Asiata. This was the sort of ready-to-hunt pass rush move that was advertised.
— (Q4, 5:58): He blew past Davis outside for a QH on a screen left that Bradley knocked away.
He played just 16 total snaps, 11 as a pass rusher. We’ll need to see more versus more seasoned linemen, but I think I speak for all Ravens fans when I say we want to believe.
Woodrum (+1/+1): There are quite a few yards after the catch in his passing totals. He could be a practice squad guy, but the team will look outside if they replace Mallett.
Wormley (0/+1): He contributed a pressure on the game’s final play, but I can’t imagine he’s excited about playing 9 snaps.