Ravens Beat Skins In “Real” Preseason Test. Five Observations.

Featured, Sports and Bets — August 24, 2014 at 10:56 am by

The third preseason game is the only preseason game with any real meaning.  The starters play for an extended period of time and the they seem to play with more enthusiasm and effort.  Last night was the Ravens’ “real game” test before the real hitting begins and the Black Birds seem ready to start the season.  Not everything was perfect, mind you, but overall I think the Ravens looked good.  Here are the five things that stood out the most from last night’s first half of “real” preseason football.

Joe Flacco Is Going To be Better This Year

Coaching is so important in the NFL.  Everybody’s got football talent, so outsmarting your opponent with a superior system or philosophy is paramount to success.  The Ravens have an offensive system and coach that they can be proud of with Gary Kubiak.  Joe Flacco, as the on the field captain of this system, has looked pretty sharp throughout the preseason, and yesterday he seemed to step it up a notch, especially in the second quarter.  Flacco was 16-23 for 180 yards and a TD in the first half.  He spread the ball around, got rid of the rock quickly on most plays, and he looked to be in total command on the field. The two-minute drill at the end of the half was especially impressive, it quickly became the Flacco/Smiths show.  Joe hit Torrey and Steve Sr. multiple times on the drive, working the ball down the field efficiently and smoothly.  The TD was an impressive diving catch by Steve Sr. and Joe obviously trusts the veteran completely already.  This is going to be Flacco’s biggest season as a pro.

 

Steve Smith Sr. Has Me Sold

I’ll admit, when the Ravens signed Smith, I wasn’t as excited as everybody else.  He’s old and this is a young man’s game.  But the rumblings out of camp have been all positive and last night Steve Smith had me at hello.  If his 30 yard reception where he spun away form a defender and broke two tackles wasn’t enough to get you fired up, then the diving touchdown catch on a fly pattern was.  Smith is still fast as hell and his aggressive, in your face, style is just what this offense needed.  Six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown?  Ice Up Son!

The Ravens Defense Played Their Best Game Of The Preseason

The front seven was particularly impressive.  Elvis Dumervil was almost unblockable.  Trent Williams, despite seemingly being twice his size, couldn’t stop Elvis from constantly being in the backfield on passing plays.  Williams got called for holding on Dumervil in the second quarter and he probably could have been whistled for the same offense at least two other times.  Doom finished his night with one sack, but he would have had more if Williams hadn’t constantly had a hold of Doom’s jersey..

Brandon Williams also looked impressive, totaling five tackles, two of which threw the Redskins for a loss.  Williams was another Raven who made his living in the Washington backfield last night.  It wasn’t perfect, the ‘Skins were able to run the ball effectively at him at times, especially in the first quarter, but Williams made up for it with those two big run stuffs.

Rookie Terrence Brooks also played big, picking off RGIII off of a tipped ball on a play that was nullified by a penalty, and then sacking the maligned D.C. quarterback on a play where RGIII was rolling right, sprinting towards the sideline.  Brooks fired after RGIII and dragged him down for the sack.  Brooks was so fast, it looked like RGIII was standing in the pocket, not rolling to his right.  It was nasty and showed Brooks’ tremendous speed.  Can you say, upside?

The secondary played surprisingly well, limiting the starting Washington offense to just 20 yards passing.  That may have had more to do with how well the front seven was in getting pressure on RGIII, but I’ll take this performance regardless.

The Offensive Line Is Still A Concern

The Ravens couldn’t run the football last night and that’s a concern.  Jeremy Zuttah did his best Gino Gradkowski impersonation of the preseason by getting blown up on multiple run plays.  RT Rick Wagner had his share of problems versus Ryan Kerrigan and speed rusher may give the second year lineman fits in the regular season.  Flacco was under plenty of duress and was sacked twice.  Bernard Pierce, who left the game with a possible concussion, ended his night with negative yards rushing.  The Redskins were extremely physical and at times were very dominating up front.  This is going to be a concern for the Ravens moving forward. I have a feeling it will get worse before it gets better, but they were still better last night than they were all of last year.

Even If Pierce Goes Down The Ravens Will Be OK At Running Back To Start the Year

I’m not hyped on Bernard Pierce like the rest of B-Town.  When Ray Rice comes back, he’ll be the starter.  He’s more talented and folks seem to forget how good he is a catching passes out of the backfield. Pierce is a nice change of pace back who will make a lot of money in that role, but he’s not a featured kind of guy.  He doesn’t break tackles consistently and he’s not crazy fast.  Even if he’s concussed and can’t go week one, the Justin Forsett/Lorenzo Taliaferro combo will be just fine. Forsett is elusive and quick and Taliaferro is a bruiser who has speed and can block in passing downs. (So can Forsett.)  The Ravens are deep at the position.

Plus, Kyle Juszczyk will catch at least 50-60 passes in this offense.  He is an absolute weapon.

Can’t wait for the real thing in two weeks. It should be a very interesting season.

pics: valleymorningstar, cbs, nfl

 

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