Reserve QB Leads Way in 31-7 Win
The final score of a preseason game can be deceiving and is hardly a reflection of how the opposing first team units competed. The game didn’t see its first score until the 13:49 mark of the second quarter which put the Dolphins ahead 7-0. The 11-yard TD run by the great Senorise Perry paved the way for what would be Miami’s only points of the game.
The Dolphins scoring drive pushed their net yardage total for the game at that moment, to 81. They would manage only 39 net yards during the remaining 43:49 of the game. The conclusion that can be drawn is that the Ravens bench dominated Miami’s. And while that is a good thing, it also masks the abysmal performance of the Ravens first-team offense.
Let’s get to the Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox
Buck Allen looked decisive and shifted well inside the tackles, displaying good vision. He was a shoestring tackle away from a couple of sizeable gains…Mike Wallace looked fresh and ready to embrace a new season. He was great after the catch and just missed breaking off a long gain after an intermediate catch. We’ll give him a pass for his fumble, the result of his most significant contact of the season to date. Matt Skura’s hustle and alertness saved Wallace some embarrassment…Maxx Williams showed some giddy-up and determination after the catch. He caught a short pass off a waggle from Josh Woodrum at the line of scrimmage and punctuated the play with 40 yards of YAC…TE Larry Donnell arrived in Baltimore with the reputation for being an effective red zone target. He caught a 1-yard pass from Ryan Mallett and later was on the receiving end of a 2-point conversion from Woodrum.
Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce were very stout at the point of attack and both had their way with the Dolphins interior linemen. Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith both followed up impressive preseason debuts with another plus performance. Each efficiently sealed the edge in run support and both provided a push in pursuit of the passer…Brent Urban, somewhat of a forgotten man entering the season, continues to capture the attention of coaches with heady plays. He’s earning more playing time…Tim Williams showed why there’s been a buzz about him during camp. He’ll be a situational pass rusher this season. It’s time to give him some reps earlier in preseason games and not just against players who will be part of the 1,184 cuts on Bloody Saturday (September 2).
Jaylen Hill’s ascension continues and for a player of his size in the modern era, he plays very well in coverage outside the numbers and his technique is spot on. It is somewhat surprising that he isn’t getting more reps as a slot corner…Swiss Army Knife Anthony Levine continues to show versatility and competence, particularly on a deep sideline pass where he provided over-the-top support for Hill…Despite the holding penalty against Terrell Suggs (which I’m still waiting to see), props to Lardarius Webb for a perfectly timed blitz resulting in a would-be sack.
Special teams were outstanding and clearly overmatched those of the Dolphins. Justin Tucker was perfect on 3 attempts including a 52-yarder. He also recovered a fumble on a second quarter kickoff…Sam Koch crushed a 61-yard punt, netting 52 and Chris Matthews blocked a punt and recovered it at the Miami 4-yard line to set up the Ravens first touchdown.
Some impressive stats:
• The Ravens defense held the Dolphins to 9 first downs, 120 net yards with only SEVENTEEN coming after halftime.
• Ravens converted 52% of third down opportunities to the Dolphins’ 16%
• The Dolphins ran just 51 plays to the Ravens 75
• Time of possession was heavily tilted towards the Ravens, 36:27 to 23:33
Quincy Adeboyejo failed to hold on to an inaccurate pass from Mallett resulting in an interception. His route running was also a bit sloppy…Chris Moore has been a second-year disappointment and looks lost. If Michael Campanaro stays healthy, Keenan Reynolds flashes as a return specialist or Chris Matthews makes a play or two in the passing game, Moore’s job could be in jeopardy. His reps come late in games, a sign that he has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff…Speaking of which, Jermaine Eluemunor has apparently plucked the feathers of the Ravens offensive coaches. Jarrod Pughsley appears to have jumped the Ravens fifth-round pick on the depth chart…Lorenzo Taliaferro runs without purpose. His days are numbered…The Ravens were caught in the wrong defense or someone failed to maintain gap integrity during the Dolphins 11-yard TD run. That’s very bad red zone defense!…The offensive play design is just a notch above that of a two-handed touch pick up game on a city street.
Ryan Mallett was awful again. He threw two first half interceptions, one on a go route that was dead on arrival. His accuracy or lack thereof was featured on an easy slant pass to Adeboyejo. The short pass with a clear throwing lane was behind the receiver, forcing the UDFA wideout to slow down and pivot from right to left to secure the ball. While falling to the ground, Dolphins CB Cordrea Tankersley wrestled the ball away for the INT. Mallett looks indecisive and lacks poise. It’s as if he knows that he may have to start some games this season and the thought isn’t as comfortable as carrying a clipboard and wearing a ball cap. So far, this preseason Mallett is 22 of 40 for 171 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs and a 53.2 passer rating.
The patchwork offensive line had a very bad night. Too often they lost control of the line of scrimmage and lost their assignment battles. Consequently, it’s no surprise that the offensive front committed so many penalties. Proof lies in Terrance West’s putrid numbers (6 carries, -2 yards). Matt Skura had two penalties including a hold. Ryan Jensen, James Hurst (declined) and Austin Howard (who looks very out of shape) also joined in on the group hugging. Jensen needs to play with more composure. His temper will cost the Ravens at some point this season.
• Three fumbles
• 11 penalties for 81 yards before the halfway mark of the third quarter; 8 for 51 yards at halftime
• Wasted timeouts on offense suggest poor preparation during key game situations
• The Cow Pasture at Hard Rock Stadium
THE MEGAN FOX
It’s difficult to really gauge just how good a third-string quarterback is when facing defenders who will largely be unemployed or on some team’s practice squad. But you can only compete against those who line up opposite you. And Josh Woodrum has been very, very good. Last night he was 8 of 10 for 110 yards and a passer rating of 112.5. He also scored twice on the ground, running for 15 yards on 3 carries. One of his incompletions came on a go route to Chris Moore down the right sideline. Moore’s left arm was tangled with the defender’s and therefore he couldn’t complete the play. But the ball was perfectly placed and on time. So far during the preseason Woodrum is 12 of 14 for 195 yards, with 1 TD and a passer rating of 142.6.
Woodrum shines while Mallett struggles.
This competition reminds me a bit of that between Billy Cundiff and Justin Tucker back in 2012. Cundiff was the veteran who not long before, received a lucrative contract from the Ravens. No one expected a walk on like Tucker to unseat the 2010 All Pro. I rationalized then that the riskier move would be to let Tucker go. Cundiff’s career had peaks and valleys. Billy Cundiff-types are almost always available. But flawless walk-ons like Tucker, they don’t come around often.
Fortunately, the Ravens made the right choice and parted ways with Cundiff. John Harbaugh and Jerry Rosburg have never looked back.
Woodrum could be someone similar.
The Ravens know what they have in Ryan Mallett. Ryan Mallett caliber quarterbacks are always available. They’re a dime a dozen. The Ravens could probably cut him and pick him up again later if they selected Woodrum over Mallett.
We’ve seen preseason quarterback heroes in the past. Bryn Renner and Josh Johnson come to mind. But there’s something about Woodrum that seems special and at the very least, he’s worthy of time with the starters just to see what they’ve got. The video below is compelling enough for the Ravens to give him the opportunity.
You never know if you have the next Kurt Warner until you at least give him a fair shake.
And so far, this preseason, Josh Woodrum has earned it.