What a crazy game. If I had no rooting interest, or didn’t write about one of the teams involved, I’d have a much better appreciation for the drama-filled football on display to cap off opening weekend. I would have also gone to bed but instead, I was up until 1 o’clock and not thrilled about the trajectory of the season. Anyway, here’s the first Stock Report of 2021. We’ll start with the Stock Up because, spoiler, there isn’t much.
The loss of Marcus Peters was evident when watching Chris Westry, Brandon Stephens and Tavon Young give up big play after big play, but Averett made up for it with sound coverage throughout the night before he showed the awareness to find the tipped ball and secure it for the interception in overtime.
We’ve heard Wink Martindale praise Averett throughout camp and call him a starting-caliber cornerback and the third best corner on the team. He showed that on Monday night, and I’m excited to see his development moving forward in his first year as a starter.
Anthony Averett made the Peters loss hurt just a little bit less last night. excited to watch him grow moving forward as a first time starter pic.twitter.com/rJzaafkzLs
— Taylor Lyons (@taylorjlyons) September 14, 2021
Williams took the opportunity handed to him and ran with it. His touchdown run where he ran virtually untouched from 35 yards out late in the first quarter was a thing of beauty, and he showed some receiving ability too.
The confusing thing regarding Williams was his usage in the second half. He had seven rushes in the first half to only two after halftime. Latavius Murray finished the game with more runs.
There were some things that will take some ironing out. The exchange at the mesh point was sloppy a couple of times; the throw down the sideline where Lamar Jackson is trying to lead him up field and miscommunication resulted in an ugly-looking incompletion; and he struggled a bit in pass protection. This is stuff that just takes chemistry and time. It’ll work itself out. He’s not on the level of Dobbins or Edwards, but Williams did enough to be optimistic he can fill in just fine.
In his first game in the NFL at center, Bozeman was the only member of the offensive line pulling his weight. Minimal pressure on drop backs came from the interior and Bozeman was key in opening up run lanes early on. In the middle of a shaky offensive line, Bozeman is the lone bright spot to be excited for coming out of this one.
The pass protection was a serious problem, and it started with the newly signed right tackle. Villanueva was flat out awful Monday night. His feet were slow and he had no answer for Maxx Crosby, Carl Nassib or whoever else the Raiders threw at him. I don’t think he won a one-on-one battle the entire game.
If he doesn’t pick up his play soon, right tackle instantly becomes the Ravens’ weakest position. Maybe there’s a reason Pittsburgh didn’t want him back.
Stanley wasn’t as bad as Villanueva, but he wasn’t much better. Combine the two, and you get a collapsed pocket on nearly every play making your quarterback extremely uncomfortable. There were several plays where both Stanley and Villanueva got beat easily (usually by Yannick Ngakoue and Crosby) and Jackson was forced to either leave the pocket, settle for the check down since progressions weren’t an option, or take a sack.
To be fair to Stanley, he’s coming off a bad leg injury and knocking off the rust is part of the process. Maybe it’ll take some time for him to become the player he was before the injury and trend up in our stock report. Yet it’s totally fair to expect more from your $100 million franchise left tackle.
Jackson dropped back to pass 38 times and was pressured 15 times, good for a 54.5 percent rate. That’s not a recipe for success with pass rushers like Chris Jones, Von Miller, TJ Watt and Myles Garrett coming up on the schedule. For comparison, Derek Carr was pressured on just 20.3 percent of his drop backs. Speaking of that…
Going into Monday Night, the pass rush was supposed to be the biggest mismatch in the Ravens favor. The Raiders offensive line — made up of backups, rookies and second year guys with little experience — collectively only had 64 starts between the five of them, and their right guard left with an injury early on as well. Madubuike and Campbell, among others, were supposed to feast on the interior while the outside rushers controlled the edge.
None of that happened. Outside of a few key stops, the interior defensive line was invisible and the edge rushers were too. Derek Carr had all day to throw and took advantage of it, picking apart the Ravens beat up secondary with Darren Waller.
The pass rush, more so than the offensive tackle play, feels like a position group that will work itself out quick and turn it around. The front seven is still made up of great players, they just didn’t collectively have a great game. They’re not the only position group that could be said for.