I’ve always been told that the anticipation of having something is always better and makes you feel more warm than actually physically getting the thing you desire.
And with the scenario of Thursday’s preseason opener for the Ravens against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Center, that turned out to be the case.
And in fact, the game turned out to be a very ugly result for the most part, so whoever made that expression about the anticipation of something can certainly laugh long and hard about this one.
The question marks that we all knew going into Thursday still remain an enigma going into Week 2 of preseason as the team gets ready for its Week 1 opener against Pittsburgh September 11th, as both the offensive line (6 sacks), the backup quarterback position (2 INTs from Tyrod Taylor), and the the receiving corps (no catches by a WR until 1:26 in the 2nd quarter) still need tinkering with by coach John Harbaugh.
Here is my report card of what I saw Thursday night versus the Eagles, and Rex Snider and I will “Rate the Ravens” on the air Friday afternoon tentatively at 3:30. Since it was a preseason game and eventually turned into a “snoozefest”, I will give ratings based in yawns. Hear Rex Snider’s analysis on “The Afternoon Drive” tomorrow!
Quarterback: 4/5 Yawns (with 5/5 being the worst)
The person we most cared about Thursday night at this position was obviously the starter, Joe Flacco. Flacco finished 3-for-6 with 60 yards passing, highlighted of course by Flacco’s first throw of the game to tight end Dennis Pitta for 27 yards. The ball appeared to be under-thrown behind defender Kurt Coleman, but Pitta went through and behind Coleman to make the play and come down with the catch. Both of Flacco’s other completions went to running back Ray Rice.
The other factor here at this position was the play of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who played from the second quarter on to the finale of the game minus a series where he left with an injury. Taylor finished 19-of-28 for 179 yards and two interceptions-one on his third pass of the game trying to hit fellow rookie Torrey Smith. The other came with 3:12 left in the third quarter at the Eagles’ 8-yard line as Taylor was attempting to find Tandon Doss near the goaline.
Taylor also had another interception in the fourth quarter-this one by Colt Anderson-but it was taken off the board because the referee ruled Anderson was out of bounds.
Overall, Taylor looked more and more comfortable as the game went on, and didn’t have a lot of help from his offensive line. However-much like in camp, he still can’t seem to be consistent with his throws and when he does connect with a receiver-fails to put the ball in stride.
Thursday night may have forced Ozzie Newsome to bring up Marc Bulger’s # on his cell phone and have it ready just in case. I still believe Taylor makes the roster or the practice squad, but to be the backup quarterback as a rookie might be too much pressure on a developing kid like Taylor.
Running Back: 3/5 Yawns
Running back Ray Rice didn’t see a lot of action-which was the idea. Impressive tonight was reserve Jalen Parmele, who on top of his skills in the kick return game-proved that he is worthy of a RB spot on the roster with his seven carry, 35-yard performance against Philadelphia. With the offensive line not helping his cause, Parmele often found a hole and made solid yards after contact. It will be interesting to see how Parmele and fellow RB Anthony Allen find themselves once the recently-signed Ricky Williams finds playing time in preseason.
Wide Receivers/TE: 3/5 Yawns
The key stat here is that no wide receiver caught a pass until 1:26 left in the second quarter-when Tyrod Taylor found Tandon Doss for a 7-yard gain. The receivers throughout the game really lacked physicality, but down the stretch, it was good to see former Maryland Terp LaQuan Williams making plays when it counted. If he continues to make more, maybe he can work his way up the depth chart. I think the lack of the big receiver in James Hardy hurt the passing game, and it will be interesting to see if Ed Dickson never gains a shot at the starting tight end position with Dennis Pitta’s progress.
Offensive Line: 4/5 Yawns
The “dud” of the night was tackle Oniel Cousins, who of course has been in a battle with rookie Jah Reid for the starting right tackle spot. He didn’t help his cause at all as he allowed Eagles DE Darryl Tapp to have a field day with his former VT teammate, Tyrod Taylor. The offensive line allowed six sacks on the night, five of them on Taylor, and while some-especially the lone sack of Joe Flacco-could be attributed to receivers not getting open, the offensive line has to do a better job of allowing the quarterback time to make a play.
Marshal Yanda struggled playing with new faces, and interior lineman Justin Boren and Bryan Mattison struggled with the Eagles pass rush all night long.
Defensive Line: 1/5 Yawns
The defensive line may have been the star unit of the game. They did a very good job getting pressure on the quarterback, as well as stopping up the running lanes. The Ravens only allowed 88 yards on the ground for a 2.8 avg. Paul Kruger led the team in tackles with 5 and had one of the team’s two sacks.
Linebackers: 3/5 Yawns
This unit appeared to sway back-and-forth all game long. The real victim Thursday of this unit was Jameel McClain, who was picked on numerous times early in easy mismatches. This included Michael Vick’s first pass of the game to Jason Avant for a 40-yard gain, as well as the eventual touchdown to Brent Celek later on in the drive that put the Eagles up 7-3 with 8:04 left in the first quarter. All three linebackers fighting to play next to Ray Lewis (McClain, Ellerbe, & Gooden) all finished with three tackles apiece, and if anyone separated themselves from the pack, it was Ellerbe. Sergio Kindle found himself with playing time, registering two tackles as well.
Secondary: 3/5 Yawns
The secondary in my opinion was ordinary versus Philadelphia, but still played well at times. They were suspect to some big plays from the likes of Riley Cooper (42 yards) and Chad Hall (32 yard catch), but seeing the newly-acquired Bernard Pollard make plays including his 39-yard interception return with 1:50 left in the second quarter ending an Eagles scoring threat. Lardarius Webb did have a 93-yard fumble-return for a touchdown changed to an incomplete pass that took points off the board.
Special Teams 1/5
This is where I wish I changed my scale for yawns. The Raven special teams were excellent Thursday night, but boy…moving the kickoff to the 35 is the most boring thing in the world. Every kickoff now is touch back. I hope they change that rule in a week. K Billy Cundiff was 2-for-3 on FGs, missing from 55 yards out.
Be sure to tune in to “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider Friday afternoon as we break down Friday’s game! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
Follow me on Twitter at @RyanChell87!