Has a team ever dominated the preseason the way the Ravens do?
It makes you wonder what in the world this team has going for it that allows the backups to dominate other teams backups.
The fact is that the Ravens have pretty solid depth relative to the rest of the league, so when they go against their ‘depth peers’, they succeed. It’s actually a very interesting phenomenon. Either way, put your money on the Ravens next week, we ain’t losing in the preseason anytime soon.
If only it actually mattered.
I thought the offense played a little bit better tonight, but the concern remains the same.
The Ravens showed they had an inability to finish drives last year and that’s been a theme of the two preseason games thus far.
The Ravens offense scored 2 touchdowns tonight (doubling up on the 1 they scored last week), but still relied on field goals to put points on the board.
A friend of mine over on the RSR Forum used to always say the Ravens way was “World Domination…3 points at a time”. While that’s funny and I appreciate it, it’s not a great way to win games in the regular season. They’ll need to convert on drives, so that fact brings the grade down a bit, despite playing better than last week.
The big buzz generated by Lamar’s snaps tonight seemed to be the voided 18-yard TD run on 3rd and 10. Here’s my take: Lamar Jackson is an instinctual playmaker. He always has been and always will be. I think if you start telling him to not make that play, you’re telling him not to be himself and that may not be the best thing for his mental approach to the game.
So, while I do appreciate he had guys open (Snead for example over the middle of the field, short of the sticks, for what it’s worth), I still understand why Lamar makes that play.
Alright, with that out of the way, Lamar had another game with some much improved accuracy. He only turned in a 60% completion rate, but the zip on the ball (1Q, 2:42, 3rd & 8, 17 yard completion to Willie Snead), his ability to throw on the run (1Q, 6:32, 2nd & 10, 9 yard completion to Kenneth Dixon) and his general accuracy looks much better.
Trace McSorley is absolutely infuriating to grade. He led a beautiful touchdown drive capped off with a perfect pass to Chris Moore, but then on his next drive throws an ugly pass to Miles Boykin that was picked off. Boykin ran a curl route and the ball should have been thrown to Boykin’s outside shoulder. It not only went inside, but it went to the inside shoulder of the DB, which means it was two ‘inside shoulders’ away from where it should be.
That said he still showed a little flash and I thought balanced it out.
Joe Callahan sure can chuck the ball. Maybe he carves out a practice squad spot?
Running back: A
The running backs got a little criticism last week for their lack of making guys miss. Well they took that bad grade, crumpled up the report card, and threw it at me tonight.
The best part about the performance from the running backs is all 5 guys at the top of the depth chart stood out.
Mark Ingram carried 4 times for 18 yards, but navigated the offensive line really well to find an open gap. In doing so, he kept the rock moving by producing 2 first downs on the first drive that resulted in a field goal.
Kenneth Dixon snagged a beauty of a pass from Jackson for 8 yards and added a nice 7-yard run.
Dixon went off gingerly and Gus Edwards stepped in with a beautiful 13 yard run on his first carry.
The big standout though? Justice Hill. My God, his feet are quicker than a hiccup (thank you for that line Sandra Bullock) and getting him in space is a great way to create some highlights. Hill had 10 carries for 49 yards including a score and showed off some great change of direction ability.
De’Lance ‘Burner’ Turner also turned in a nice 21 yard gain and finished with 29 yards on 5 carries.
Wide Receiver: B+
Have yourself a day Chris Moore! Moore started last week by catching both of his targets for 48 yards and drawing a DPI. This week he caught 4/4 targets for 54 yards and added a score. It’s safe to firmly put him in the ‘lock’ category.
Overall, it was a pretty solid day for the Ravens WR group, especially the fringe guys, but unfortunately we need to address the elephant in the room.
Yes friends, we need to talk about Miles Boykin and I don’t like it any more than you do. He wowed me last week with his ability to bounce back from a rough start. And then he had another rough start…but this time there was no bounce back. Boykin has a lot of time to put it all together, but I think we can relax on some of the hype until he can show consistency in games.
Looking at other rookies/sophomores on the bubble, it looks to be a battle between UDFA Antoine Wesley and 2018 4th round pick Jaleel Scott for the 6th WR spot. Both made some plays tonight.
Wesley hauled in a beautiful 38 yard pass (and added another for 6 yards) from Joe Callahan and Scott hauled in 2 for 23 yards.
The difference in this battle may come down to special teams. I had Scott marked down for 2 ST tackles and Wesley with 0. Take that information how you may. I think it’s Scott’s position through 2 weeks, but believe me when I say I don’t want to lose Wesley. He’s a big and long-limbed receiver who knows how to use his size, which he showcased perfectly tonight.
Offensive Line: B
Another group that took some heat from last week’s game was the offensive line group. Much like the running backs, it was a much better performance tonight especially for the 1’s.
I was hard on Jermaine Eluemunor, but I thought he bounced back at LG tonight and turned in some solid reps. Additionally, James Hurst also turned in a solid performance.
Analyzing the offensive line is always tough without an in-depth re-watch, but the first unit at first glance was much improved, both in providing protection (with the exception of Za’Darius Smith embarrassing Ronnie Stanley for a pressure) and creating running lanes.
The grouping of Patrick Mekari-Bradley Bozeman-Ben Powers as the second unit interior offensive line is no match for other teams second and third units. This is going to be an interesting position battle for the last few roster spots on the 53.
Overall, much better night from the group.
Tight Ends: C+
Another tough conversation that needs to happen revolves around 2018 1st round pick Hayden Hurst. I think we were all hoping to see a little more out of him than a 1 catch on 3 targets for -1 yard stat line. I’m giving him some more time because I think the deployment of our TE’s is going to be awesome to watch this year, but it’s not a good look so far through 2 games.
Nick Boyle is a guy that has always been a little underrated as a pass catcher. There’s a reason he doesn’t have a receiving TD in his career, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a super reliable short yardage receiver. He hauled in all 3 of his targets for 20 yards and I think we’re going to see a lot of Boyle this year and I love it.
Another quiet week from the TE group that looks extremely deep. I would assume the team is looking to give the WR’s some targets knowing their top 3 is Hurst, Boyle and Mark Andrews. Average grade for the average turnout.
It’s funny, the Ravens set such high expectations because their defense is so solid that for some reason I felt they played bad tonight.
But then I go look at the numbers and I have no idea why I felt that way. The Packers had just 226 yards and 11 first downs, including going just 3/12 on 3rd down.
In fact, the Packers only had 2 drives go over 50 yards and both scored.
I guess my expectations may be too high.
Defensive Line: B
The first string defensive line played solid on the first few drives that they were all together. There were no long runs or open gaps. However, they weren’t getting a push into the backfield, so it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Matt Judon had a solid night on his 27th birthday including a beautiful sack on the Packers field goal drive that really shifted the momentum and held them to 3. He looks poised for a big contract year.
The rest of the Ravens pass rush was pretty calm tonight and that brings the grade down to an average B. Hopefully they can bounce back and get some more pressure off the edge.
The Ravens suffered a little scare when starting WILL Chris Board went down with what looks like a concussion. We’re wishing Chris a speedy recovery.
The linebackers had a very solid night, with many of the fringe players stepping up.
The biggest standout with UDFA Otaro Alaka coming out of Texas A&M. He is a true downhill LB and will be a nice fit to get some WILL LB reps if Chris Board misses some time. Of course, Kenny Young likely steps in as the starter for now, but Alaka is creeping up the depth chart.
Alvin Jones also had a nice night and connected on a sack.
Oh yeah, he didn’t play a lot, but Patrick Onwuasor is going to have a big year. Just throwing that out there.
One thing this team doesn’t need to worry about is finding LB’s.
Defensive Backs: A-
A lot of folks in the Twittersphere seemed a little upset with the DB group. There was certainly some longer chunk yardage plays that were made. However, it’s important to look at the coverage.
For example, on a 22 yard pass that went to Geromino Allison (God that’s a fun name to say), Earl Thomas stepped up into the box and blitzed with the rest of the DB’s dropping into a zone. Allison ran nicely into the spot vacated by Thomas. So, while yes, a big play, it’s more of the result of the play call than individual performance so I have a hard time burning the DBs for it.
Speaking of Thomas, he didn’t play a lot, but does he ever get to the ball fast. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this year.
I’m typing this article while finding out about Tavon Young missing the rest of the year with a neck injury. They say you can never have too many corners and I think this is a great example of that.
I would normally pump Cyrus Jones’ tires in this spot as a guy that could step up, but he was flat out exposed tonight in coverage. He’s a great punt return guy, but he needs to make a bigger impact as a DB to make the final roster. As a guy playing slot corner, it’s even more true with Young now out. However, look for Brandon Carr to fill some of those snaps.
Special Teams: B
Another game, another 50+ kick for Mr. AutomaTUCK, Justin Tucker. Tucker went 4/4 with makes from 52, 45, 41 and 38. He also made a beauty ‘tackle’ where he forced the runner out of bounds on a kick return.
On that note, the grade is brought down after another bad kickoff cover by the Ravens. The Packers returned the first kickoff of the game for 36 yards down to their 40 yard line. That’s not a trend we want to see in the regular season and they gave up a similar long return last week.
Sean Smith was signed this week after the Ravens got a 5th round pick for a UDFA K who never played a game for them. Smith then boomed 1 for 58 yards inside their 20 and then had a second punt land inside the Packers 20.
At this rate we should be able to get a 6th round pick for Smith by Wednesday? Just kidding, but LB’s and leg talent are definitely part of the Ravens strength.
Todays game ball is going to Justice Hill. He didn’t have a massive stat line, but he stood out the most to me as a runner who is going to make splash plays this year.
Honorable mention to Otaro Alaka and Chris Moore.