Defensive Line: C-
The pressure was virtually non-existent as expected for a team that lost it’s best pass rusher in the off-season. It doesn’t look like the Ravens have a viable option to rush the passer just yet, unless the offense garners a big lead early and the defense knows the opposing team will be passing. Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody had no push whatsoever up the middle and the Bengals gashed the Ravens up the middle with a center that had practiced in full gear for two days in Jeff Faine. Haloti Ngata made a few nice plays here and there, and Pernell McPhee contributed a half-sack. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they haven’t gotten a feel of new defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ system just yet, but at the same time it looks like #55 will need to be present in order to cause some sense of worry with the opposition’s offensive coordinator game-planing against this group.
Obviously, Ray Lewis still has it. 14 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble just goes to show that the hard work he put in the off-season to get down to 235 pounds helped. He looked quicker attacking the ball carriers and appeared to contribute more in the pass game. Other than Ray, not much can be said. Albert McClellan and Paul Kruger didn’t pile up the stats and at times, setting the edge was a struggle. Courtney Upshaw contributed a half-sack, but still felt like he was more of a hand-in-the-dirt type of player, rather than a stand-up linebacker. He shows flashes of explosion, but it has been few and far between. Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain had fairly solid games and Ellerbe looks like he will get significantly more playing time when the Ravens face an opponent that likes to throw the ball and has athletes that can create opportunities in space.
Ed Reed made the play that buried the Bengals even further and in my opinion, changed the momentum of the game. Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb did a fairly solid job of tackling, and sticking to A.J. Green’s hip for a majority of the night and Brandon Tate was virtually nonexistent as the team’s number two. Bernard Pollard made some solid plays stopping the run and towards the line of scrimmage, as well as, contributing in the pass defense game more-so than he has in the past. Smack talking is one thing, backing it up by virtually eliminating one of the best young receivers in the NFL to a scoreless night and only 70 yards is a victory in my book. The only reasons I’m giving them a B+ and not an A is because they struggled stopping Andrew Hawkins in dealing with his athletic ability coming from the slot receiver position and the one play where Jimmy Smith bailed on his coverage against Green, that was a red flag.
Special Teams: A
Sam Koch was being his usual self, with one inside the 20 and a long punt of 50 yards. Justin Tucker made a solid NFL debut, going 3-for-3 with a field goal long of 46 yards and he converted on all five extra point attempts. As far as the kick coverage, it was better than previous years under former Eagles special teams coordinator, now Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Cincinnati didn’t ever amass serious field position from any of their returns. Overall, solid effort.
Do you think the grades are fair? I will address this, among other things on this week’s addition of WNST’s Weekend Warriors this Saturday from 9-11 a.m. If you want to give out your own grades on the Ravens, give us a mention and use the hashtag #RavensReportCard along with your grade for a position group. Follow me on Twitter @Jeff_Kryglik if you love all things Baltimore sports I will keep you entertained and informed regarding the Orioles, Ravens, Terps and Caps.