Did you all feel like I did last night?
You spend all day anticipating the game. The eight-hour work day feels like it was 12 hours.
You settle in with a beer and a bowl of chips.
And then you basically get punched in the gut.
Yes, the game got better, but man what a letdown.
Welcome to the “disappointment” edition of the 2018 Ravens grades column.
Offense – Overall: C-
The Flacco Report – D
Flacco is truly one of the most baffling quarterbacks to watch on a weekly basis. Throughout his entire career as a Raven he could go from leading the team to a win one week to throwing multiple interceptions and losing the next.
The Bills defense does not serve as a good test, but regardless, Flacco went out last week and moved with precision, made his reads (pre and post snap) and did his thing. Emphasis on reading pre snap. We saw an actual audible last week! This week, we saw a lot of laziness (no audible, no hard count, no pump fakes, notta), for a lack of a better word.
Missed opportunities described Flacco’s first half. He was saved by the big plays and a strong final drive of the half, but we saw too many misses:
— The interception on the second series was a clear over throw.
— 2nd last drive of the 1st half he missed Crabtree on 3rd-and-4.
— Next play he missed Snead breaking open on 4th and 4.
— Even on the scoring drive he should have hit a breaking open John Brown in the end zone on second down (yes Brown still could have caught it but it’s just a missed throw that should have been clean).
It may seem nitpicky, but it’s just those inconsistent throws that turn a small problem into a big problem for the Ravens offense.
Flacco deserves credit for leading some scoring drives and moving the ball. He was not helped out by his offensive line, but missed throws characterized his night more so than made throws.
Running back – C
Alex Collins caught our attention last year with his fierce running style and attitude that tells you he is never giving on a run. Those factors really stood out tonight. In the first half when the lull really started Collins was still running with his shoulder down trying to make something happen on every play. You have to respect the man for that.
Overall, as a unit, the offense just is not establishing the run. It’s hard to pin too much on Collins and Javarious Allen. They run hard, but you can’t run into a hole that doesn’t exist. The grade reflects a mixture of production, but the subjective analysis of their hard running and lack of help bumps the grade up a bit.
Wide Receiver and Tight End – B+
This is the best group of pass catchers Flacco has ever had as a Raven. There was a series in the 4th quarter where we had back to back to back completions to John Brown, Willie Snead and Michael Crabtree. That was nice to see and if Joe can get some blocking and throw the ball better I think these guys can be very solid.
John Brown highlighted the group with two beautiful passes and a final line of four catches for 92 yards and one score.
Mark Andrews has been a very nice surprise early in his rookie season. His awareness and route running on an 11 yard catch to end the first half caught fans attention. He put the exclamation point on by scoring his first touchdown (of hopefully many to come!) later that drive.
Seeing Andrews on the field and making plays is making the Hayden Hurst absence a little easier to swallow and we should all be excited to see Hurst rejoin the team once he’s healed up.
There’s something about this group that fans have to like and what we really need is to get the whole unit in sync.
Offensive Line – F
This is the unit I’ve become the most worried about overall on offense. The run blocking isn’t there. The pass blocking isn’t there (They can be credited for Flacco’s second INT). It’s becoming concerning and if they can’t keep Flacco stable in the pocket it’s going to be a long season.
James Hurst is not an offensive tackle in the National Football League.
Oh yeah and maybe if we want to run a little power to the right side (Lewis pulled 10 times to run power to the right side in week 1, as per Filmstudy) we should have Orlando Brown Jr. paving the way beside Marshal Yanda…just a thought.
Check back later this week for Filmstudy’s individual grades, but I don’t think it’s going to fare well for this unit.
Defense – Overall: D
What a colossal letdown from a defensive group that really look like they could be solid.
Four TD by Andy Dalton? It’s just embarrassing.
Defensive Line and Edge Rushers – F
Leading the group of disappointment is the interior line and edge rushers.
Brandon Williams contract seems to hurt more and more every game. The Ravens can’t stop the run and way too often you look and Williams is on the sideline. It’s becoming very frustrating and a combination of Patrick Ricard and Chris Wormley may actually be a better duo.
The Ravens went from 6 sacks last week to 0 this week. This was probably the most disappointing thing to see. There was very little creative blitzing from Don Martindale and the 4 man vanilla pass rush that stunk of Dean Pees did not get the job done.
The history of Andy Dalton is quite simple. Hit him and hit him early and you will have success. This group did not do that.
Linebackers – B-
I got a text at 10:37 from a buddy who is a Bears fan, it read “Who is number 40?” That man is Kenny Young and he should have single handily locked up the WILL linebacker spot no matter what C.J. Mosley’s status is moving forward. The kid is fast and attacks. Reminds me of what “play like a Raven” is all about.
As solid as Young was, the group didn’t protect the middle of the field well enough to make a major impact, but they were far from the biggest problem on the defense.
Defensive Backs – C-
I want to scream and yell about the defensive backs, but again a gameplan that stunk like Dean Pees I have to give a little collective thought and ask the question ‘were they put in a position to succeed’.
In the first half, no. Someone needs to explain why Tavon Young (5’9 185) was covering AJ Green (6’4, 210). It just isn’t going to work. Green feasted on these defensive backs until a few adjustments were made.
The second half improved the grade, but after a group with such high potential just left a lot to be desired last night.
Special Teams – B-
Two weeks, two fumbles for Janarion Grant. He could very well see his walking papers tomorrow with a possible Tim White promotion. Disappointing because he has some talent, but if you can’t secure the ball you have no shot at holding a job as a return specialist. Plain and simple.
Oh yeah Justin Tucker is a beast who easily handled a 55 yarder to boost the grade.
Coaching – D
Let’s start with John Harbaugh. It’s starting to become sad to watch Marvin Lewis own him every year, but it happened once again. The big concern with Harbaugh is that he continues to bring the team out to big games (any divisional game is a big game) unprepared. His claim to fame was being a players coach and rallying guys behind him and it’s hard to not feel like he has lost that a bit.
Marty Morhinweg is a hard guy to assess. Sometimes the scheme is really solid and we are seeing more of our wide receivers break open (see Flacco’s missed throws for example). However, what did me in last night was his play calling. Way too often we’re not running the ball. With 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter we were 3rd and 2 and threw the ball two times in a row only to turn the ball over. The run blocking stinks, but you have to give Collins a chance to be that explosive back who will fight for yards. Also, 9 carries for Collins is just criminally underutilizing a weapon.
Some of the concerns with Martindale are expressed above, but overall it just seemed like there was a great gameplan for the Bills (and yes I understand the difference in the level of competition), but tonight it was all reaction. The second half was no doubt better and adjustments were made. That boosted this grade, but overall there’s reason to be concerned with the defensive scheme … yet again.
Kenny Young and Alex Collins get the gameball for reminding me what “play like a Raven” means. Fast, attacking, tough and relentless.
John Brown gets an honorable mention for being the playmaker we sorely need.