Everything was set for Lamar Jackson to make a splash in his first NFL game.
He played the 2nd half against some replacement-level talent and was matched with some of the Ravens’ rookies on offense (Hurst, Lasley, Scott) with whom he has been practicing for some time. As you saw, the Ravens didn’t get a big bang from their 1st-round selection.
Here are the offensive linemen by series, something that often tells a story about the team’s plans from the first game:
Notes on the OL rotation:
— Orlando Brown was good in 3+ quarters. We will chart his play separately, since he was the most significant player to receive extensive playing time. I noticed only 1 pressure in the offensive notes (a flush of Griffin on what ended up being a run for -1 (Q2, 8:03). However, over the years I have always noted more on a play-by-play review, so I don’t want to estimate scoring just yet.
— Eluemunor had an extended trial with Brown. He also deserves an individual review, but notes tell me his night wasn’t as good as Brown’s.
— The Ravens play from LT to C was the biggest reason the offense was paralyzed most of the night. Bozeman was the best of the players with extensive time (Bozeman, Shakir, Crecilius, Evans), but that’s not saying much.
— Matt Skura got starter treatment at center and was relieved after just 2 series. He was bulled by Jenkins for a pressure that was wiped out by an offsides call (Q1, 7:08). After his departure, Bozeman and Shakir alternated at C and LG for the bulk of the game. Shakir was bad and Bozeman had a debut which didn’t move the needle for me (see comments below).
— The Ravens had no NFL-caliber LT as Justin Evans and Randin Crecilius alternated at turnstile on the blind side. The injury to Greg Senat cost him valuable developmental time in a game where he should have had an extensive trial at LT.
— As a group, the Ravens QBs held the football too long leading to 8 sacks that would have been the story of the game had they lost.
Martindale Sticks with Base Nickel
The most notable element of the defense was the use of the nickel for virtually every snap. Preseason has larger goals than optimization of defensive success as teams try to sift through their personnel. However, the Ravens did not play a single dime (6-DB) snap, even when the Bears had some long-yardage passing situations.
That situation reached a comic level on the first drive when the Bears reached 3rd and 4 from their own 31 (Q1, 13:46). From the views provided on NBC, it appeared McClellan left the field (the ILB without the green dot helmet is normally the player replaced in the dime package) then rushed back to the middle of the field to keep his spot in the nickel. Daniel then threw to Bellamy past the arms of McClellan for a 25-yard gain. From the previous plays, I can’t determine which ILB had the green dot, although it should have been visible on either he on Onwuasor on the previous play.
McClellan is one of the smartest and football-savvy Ravens. Rosburg has frequently spoken effusively about his ability to cover kicks and understand his responsibilities on special teams. He’s played a variety of defensive roles for the Ravens including DE, OLB, and ILB (vs Bears). He seemed to understand his responsibility was to quickly get off the field for the dime in that situation. In the regular season, I’m sure he’d be right.
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 2018 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 2018, in positional battles, or have otherwise have something to prove this season.
Averett (+1): Anthony played much of the 2nd half and looked solid. He failed to find the football in the air on the 24-yard catch by Wims which set up the Bears’ FG (Q4, 15:00). Otherwise, he had tight coverage of Wims (Q4, 13:32) in the end zone and Ayers (Q4, 4:41) that denied completions. After he surrendered the big play to Wims, he made a touchdown-saving form tackle of Nall on the left edge that helped hold the Bears to a FG (Q4, 14:10).
Board (0): Chris was solid in a lengthy trial at ILB. He surrendered a 16-yard catch to Wims (Q4, 4:37), but he also helped contain Ayers on his reception which eventually was stretched right for the forced fumble by Elliott (Q3, 11:45).
Boyle (0): He dropped his first pass of the night in the open field, but also made a 12-yard catch between defenders on the Ravens’ TD drive (Q1, 5:48).
Bozeman (-1): He surrendered a portion of the pressure that forced Griffin from the pocket on a 1-yard sack (Q2, 8:03). He also had a nice pull (Q4, 7:33) to lead a 6-yard run. He was also flagged for being illegally downfield to negate a 10-yard pass.
Brown, Orlando (+1): Orlando solidified his hold on the starting RT spot with a night without glaring errors. He was asked to do some blocking in space and prior to scoring, I saw some things to like. We’ll review play-by-play in the next 24 hours to provide scoring for him only.
Canady (0): Maurice played exclusively on the outside after a solid second half at nickel in 2017. He looked rusty in coverage and was bailed out by Fowler’s end-zone drop (Q1, 12:37). He was also run over by Cunningham for a 3-yard conversion (Q1, 9:12).
Clark (+1): Clark has been one of the players who has looked good in OTAs and camp. Other than the nice collection of the tip-drill interception (Q1, 12:31), he didn’t make my notes.
Correa (+3): He was far and away the team’s defensive MVP. What was more impressive is that he did so with plays made at ILB and OLB. Reviewing all notes:
— (Q1, 9:12): He subbed for Williams on 3rd and 1 at OLB and lost containment of the right edge as Cunningham converted with a 3-yard run.
— (Q1, 3:56): At ILB, he anticipated Daniel’s pass, stepped in front of TE Sims, and broke free for a 19-yard return.
— (Q1, 1:42): At OLB, he drew a holding flag on Sims that negated a 5-yard run and stalled the drive.
— (Q2, 12:31): Dropping to cover from OLB, he nearly had a 2nd interception as Daniel threw for Shaheen under pressure, but Kamalei knocked it down.
— (Q2, 6:41): He came on an A-gap blitz from ILB and bulled the fullback Burton. When Darious Williams forced Daniel up in the pocket, Correa cleaned up for a 7-yard sack.
— (Q2, 2:28): From OLB, he beat LT Sowell for a fast-developing 5-yard sack.
— (Q3, 12:58): At OLB, he held the left edge versus LT McCants, then pinched for the tackle on a 2-yard run.
— (Q3, 12:13): On 3rd and 8, he was flagged for leading with the helmet to negate a stop.
— (Q3, 3:03): He bent past the LT Greene for a fast strip sack of Bray that was recovered by Ricard.
— (Q4, 2:44): He brought unblocked pressure off the right edge and was followed up by Young to force Bray’s incompletion on the 2-point conversion which would have given the Bears the lead.
It’s the greatest single preseason game (by a player on offense or defense) that I have scored in 10 years of using this method. If it wasn’t the best preseason game in Ravens history (I’m thinking of Boulware 1997, Nate Bolling 8/11/03, and the Gregg/Missouri battle on 8/31/01) it was very close. The use of Correa in Martindale’s defense will now be one of the significant questions for the remainder of the preseason.
Crecilius (-1): See OL notes above. He’s listed as a guard on the roster, but played exclusively LT in this game and looked out of position.
Davis (0): As a 4th-year player, he’s on the bubble if a rookie defensive lineman looks good in the preseason. Davis looked solid for his part with a combination of pressure and clogging the run, but he did not make the defensive scoresheet in a night that lasted approximately 15 snaps.
Donnal (-1): The coaches have him lower on the depth chart than I expected. Despite the fact he’s a 4th-year swing G/T, he was not used to plug the gaping hole at LT. He did not enter until Orlando Brown left early in the 4th quarter. That does not bode well for him making the roster.
Edwards (+1): Of the UDFA RBs, he was the one who flashed. He exploited the hole provided by Eluemunor and Brown for a 16-yard run (Q3, 8:14). He also had a 23-yard (2 + 21 YAC) catch and run (Q1, 6:40). Those were the longest and 4th-longest plays of the night for the Ravens.
Elliott (+1): One of the things I want to see this season is whether Elliott can play effectively on the back end at the NFL level. Assuming he can do that, I’m convinced based on his college play, he’ll be fine at SS or dime. Initial results were positive with 1 exception:
— (Q1, 0:48): He was not credited with a PD, but appeared to disrupt the pass to Sims (Q1, 0:48) by the left sideline.
— (Q3,11:45): He stripped Ayers with his right hand for a fumble recovered by Kaufusi.
— (Q3, 0:30): Wims beat Darious Williams for a 17-yard play (4 + 13 YAC). After Wims slipped and there was contact between the Bears WR and Williams, Elliott threw his hands up, expecting an OPI flag while the play was still going on and did not immediately move to tackle Wims. I’m sure he got an earful for that play. It’s the sort which can earn him a spot in the doghouse quickly.
With Weddle in the final year of his contract in 2019, the Ravens need to identify the next FS and Elliott could be the guy if he can master back-end play.
Eluemunor (+1): He was the 2nd most effective Ravens lineman by eye and not play-by-play analysis. He surrendered a pressure by bull rush (Q2, 1:47) and was beaten inside for TFL (Q2, 8:45) in 3+ quarters. He solidified his place as one of the Ravens backup interior linemen.
Evans (-1): See above. He collided with Thompson on Irving’s 7-yard sack. He also got away with an IH foul on Irving (Q2, 14:19). He remains a candidate for the practice squad, but I don’t see room for him among the final 53.
Grant (0): Grant’s modest straight-line speed showed up on the punt return for -1 (Q4, 8:33). His college highlights were a function of open-field elusiveness. Despite a mixed bag from Tim White on returns, I don’t think the depth chart at punt returner has changed. Grant had a 10-yard catch and was open for another on a ball that was blocked at the LoS.
Griffin (+1): His game was solid, if unspectacular. If Jackson is unable to progress as a QB, the Ravens will have to seriously consider keeping Griffin.
Humphrey, Myles (0): In an increasingly crowded DE/OLB field, Humphrey will have a difficult time making the roster, but I thought he played well in run containment.
Hurst, Hayden (0): He drew a penalty for unnecessary roughness on a ball he could not haul in at the goal line, but he scored on the very next play (Q3, 9:12). As a blocker, he lost the left edge to Norris which caused Edwards to be blown up for no gain (Q3, 14:19). He showed good hands and led the Ravens with 4 targets and 3 receptions, but for just 14 yards total.
Jackson, Bennett (+2): He had a big night, primarily on the back end and may be a player other teams notice around cut time, if the Ravens safety depth holds up to preseason injuries. Racing form highlights:
— (Q3, 5:07) Tackled WR 83 quickly for a gain of 7 to set up 4th and 1.
— (Q4, 14:14): PD 8 yards between the hashes
— (Q4, 10:40): Rushed unblocked off the left edge for an 8-yard sack
— (Q4, 5:08): Flagged for UR on WR 83, called out as bad by announcers
I also have him noted for a solid containment effort on punt coverage.
Jackson, Lamar (-2): He was unimpressive in his first NFL action under difficult circumstances. In 13 drop backs, he completed just 4 passes for 33 yards and was sacked 3 times for -18, resulting in 1.2 yards per pass play. He made a handful of good throws from the pocket or while rolling, including the touchdown to Hurst and a 3rd-and-11 conversion to Lasley. I want to avoid predicting his pace of progression from a single game, but he has far to go.
Jean-Baptiste (-1): He surrendered 2 medium-length completions I noted. He was removed immediately after committing a post-play personal foul (Q3, 7:36). After a (presumed) tongue lashing, he returned to play to the end of the game and had coverage of the final 4th-and-15 incomplete for the Bears.
Jones (+1): Alvin had 2 positive run notes for shooting a gap (Q3, 9:04) and finishing on Kaufusi’s edge hold (Q3, 5:51). He also tackled Wims for a gain of just 4 (0 YAC). He is a good option for the Ravens as a 2-down thumper to compliment a dime at ILB2.
Kaufusi (+2): Bronson had a fine game and saw action at both DE and OLB. All notes in racing (shorthand) form:
— (Q2, 13:33): Sealed by WR 81 on 33 RR9
— (Q2, 12:31): Beat RT 69 cleanly outside for QH
— (Q3, 11:45): Stretched WR 14 outside right for FF 21, FR 92
— (Q3, 5:51): Held R edge from OLB, 58 tackle 35 RM2
It’s great to see him play well after 2 difficult seasons. From camp, I can say he looks huge and much more sculpted than his first 2 seasons. The Ravens have a lot of talent from which to choose at both DE and OLB, but if he continues to play like this, he’ll have a role.
LaCouture (0): Did not make my notes in 12 snaps (Gamebook total).
Lasley (0): He was wide open for a 14-yard conversion on 3rd and 11 (Q3, 10:33). It’s probably good for his career prospects to build a connection with Lamar Jackson, but I am eager to see what he can do with Flacco.
Levine (N/A): I don’t grade veterans like Levine, but it was nice to see the Ravens’ versatile safety back and starting on the back end.
Levrone (0): In a brief (6 snap) effort, he was targeted by Jackson on a dangerous pass that he could only manage to tip (Q4, 10:52).
Lewis (0): See notes with OL above.
Mayle (0): He took the scariest hit of the night, mid-thigh (Q3, 2:55) on a reception for a gain of 1. A little lower and he might have sustained a serious knee injury.
Nacua (0): He didn’t play in a game where there would have been plenty of opportunity at safety. He was on the sideline and dressed, but like many of the starters, he was not wearing pads.
Onwuasor (-1): It was a tough night for Patrick despite a relatively brief outing (20 snaps). To summarize in racing form:
— (Q1, 10:31) Flagged for HTH as 2nd man after 41 had wrapped up for 0 YAC
— (Q1, 10:11) Gave too much space to WR 13 on PL7
— (Q1, 8:25) Among 3 Ravens cleared out by WR 13 on FB 46 4-yard TD catch
Perriman (-1): The drop converted into the interception won’t help his chances (Q1, 11:18). The Ravens may have picked up his roster bonus in part to showcase him this preseason or simply as depth with upside. He’s got 4 more games to improve his stock and every Ravens fan should be hoping he does and not reveling in his failures.
Porter (0): He entered in the 4th quarter and played 14 snaps. He surrendered the hot-read completion to Wims that converted 4th and 6 on the Bears touchdown drive (Q4, 3:12).
Ricard (+2): He has been playing DL more than FB at camp and had an extended trial (41 defensive snaps, 5 on offense) against the Bears at NT. He was impressive in his ability to get penetration versus the run and take on double teams regularly. He recovered the fumble on Correa’s strip sack (Q3, 3:03). His bull of the center Allen was one of the keys to the 4th-and-1 stop (Q3, 4:24). He was essentially shut down at NT after 19 snaps against the Bears last 10/15 (1 snap the remainder of 2017). If he can demonstrate the versatility to play both FB and NT, the Ravens may be able to carry 1 less DL on the 53-man roster.
Scott (-1): He was the target on interception thrown by Jackson (Q3, 4:10). That was his only target in 32 snaps.
Senat (0): Normally he’d have a negative score for expectation change after sitting out an exhibition game. However, this game further underscored the Ravens need for a LT who can pass block effectively and that should be an area of strength for Greg whose length and feet are assets.
Shakir (-2): See OL notes above. I have him for 3 pressures (1 a PD), a sack and a run stuff. I’m guessing no one feels the need for time references to go back and check his play. He was on the Ravens 53-man roster for the last 8 games of 2017, but was never activated. He is again a candidate to start the season on the practice squad in 2018.
Sieler (+1): He was one of the Ravens defenders that stood out despite just 13 snaps. He penetrated as Alvin Jones took down Nall for a loss of 1 (Q3, 9:04). He beat RT Coward for frontside pressure on Bennett’s sack (Q4, 10:40). He beat Allen inside for a crawling pressure (Q4, 2:15) as Bray was forced to ground a middle screen. As a group, the Ravens 5-tech players were all effective versus the Bears.
Siragusa (-2): He doesn’t appear completely healthy by any stretch. The fact that he didn’t enter until the second to last drive is a good indicator of how the coaches have him slotted for depth. He’s had snaps at center in camp and despite troubles there versus Chicago, he saw action only at RG.
Skura (0): See notes above.
Smith, Za’Darius (N/A): He had a fine night as a pass rusher and won’t be rated for the rest of the preseason, but it was obvious from this game that he provides more from OLB that he does as an inside rusher on passing downs. He was a man among boys in 19 snaps.
Thompson (0): He was 2nd of the UDFA RBs to play and did not flash with 5 carries for 9 yards and 3 receptions for 2. He’s a player who has the size to contribute as a runner, receiver and pass blocker.
Turner (0): He had some solid running late (14 yards on 3 carries) when the Bears were keying on it and had a reception for 8 yards.
White (0): He remains on the bubble after failing to field a punt (Q2, 2:00) that cost the team 18+ yards. He looked as good as any receiver with 2 catches on 3 targets for 20 yards. Griffin misfired behind him (Q2, 15:00) on a play where he was wide open 20 yards downfield.
Williams, Darious (0): He had a mixed bag of results in his effort to secure a role as a backup nickel. To summarize in racing form:
— (Q2, 6:45): Had initial pressure leading to 90 QH
— (Q2, 6:41): Pressure forced QB 4 up in pocket for 51 S-7
— (Q3, 0:30): Beaten by WR 83 (OPI?) after slip for PL17 (4 + 13 YAC)
— (Q4, 5:28): WR 83 was too big for 27 PM11 (5 + 6 YAC) to convert 3rd and 3
— (Q4, 3:42): Touched down WR 19 for PR4 (4 + 0 YAC)
— (Q4, 3:16): PD 27 vs 83 denies 3rd and 6
— (Q4, 2:49): WR 19 gains separation with goal line shove of 27, TD
Darious generated pressure twice while blitzing from the slot, but he displayed a weakness versus larger receivers in coverage. He’s going to need to elevate his ability to play through contact that is called in a pro-offense manner at the NFL level.
Williams, Maxx (+1): It was good to see him convert the TD, which came escaping the backfield as a FB (Q1, 4:04).
Williams, Tim (+2): He had a big night of pressure and displayed a variety of pass rush moves, but he converted that into just 1 QH, largely because Bray had a quick release and was effective throwing under pressure. He spun, ducked, used speed, and stunted to compromise the pocket and I’ll simply give you the quarter and time (Q, T) references to review along with a brief description of his move:
(Q3, 12:18, Swim), (Q3, 8:14, Stunt), (Q3, 5:11, Spin), (Q3, 0:30, Stunt), (Q4, 9:58, Duck), (Q4, 5:08, Got low to outside), (Q4, 3:12, Unblocked), (Q4, 2:06, Stunt for slow-developing QH)
This was a big step forward for Williams. His quickness, paired with more aggression from other players should be very disruptive.
Wormley (+2): He also took a big step forward with 6 pressures, a PD, and a key push on TE Thompson to help with the 4th-and-1 stop in an extended trial (49 snaps).
Young, Kenny (+1): Nice debut versus the run and pass. He cleaned up on the 4th-and-1 stop (Q3, 4:24) and had a late pressure (Q4, 2:44).
Defensive MVP: Correa
Offensive MVP: Brown and Edwards