The Baltimore Ravens played inconsistent football this preseason. There was a lot of good and a lot of bad. The defense has started to come together. After an impressive outing last night; the Ravens can feel confidence once again in their defense. The offense just could not seem to keep the light switch on.
The inconsistencies come offensively as any long time Ravens fan is surely used to. The Ravens must look for development of consistent strong play from the offense moving forward.
Coming into camp the Ravens had a lot of uncertainty at the wide receiver position. Tandon Doss at one time was the presumed favorite to earn the number 3 wide receiver role. Now after blown opportunities Doss may not even make the team.
The Ravens brought in veteran and former Raven Brandon Stokley. This is a big help for the offense. Young unheralded receivers like Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown have stepped up into the mix. The Ravens receivers are still largely unknown quantities.
The Ravens had adversity come early when star tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a hip injury that will sideline him for all of 2013. The Ravens signed two veteran tight ends in Visanthe Shiancoe and Dallas Clark. Shiancoe struggled in the first two games with 5 dropped passes. He played very well in the third preseason game against the Panthers.
The offense was vanilla and lethargic in the first two preseason games. They played patty cake football not wanting to show Denver anything for week 1.
In the third game they played better but struggled to maintain the elevated play. They started with a beautiful and explosively efficient first drive. Once Marshall Yanda left the game the offensive line crumbled and drives were killed by turnovers, sacks and penalties.
In hind sight it is not surprising that the Ravens struggled with consistent execution. The offense barely went through the motions the past two weeks.
Players were still finding a rhythm. It may have been the dress rehearsal for the season opener but the Ravens could not just turn on the light switch like that. It takes time for it to come together, especially when you play uninspired football the two weeks prior.
The Baltimore Ravens started the second half looking to redeem themselves for a frustrating first half of offensive football. The Ravens marched down the field on two scoring drives in a calming performance. Joe Flacco’s touchdown pass to rookie Marlon Brown was a thing of beauty. The defense remained stingy. Cam Newton was constantly under pressure and the Panthers could not find any success on running plays. There were problems but for the most part the starters gave fans a sigh of relief.
Marlon Brown emerged as a receiver to keep your eyes on. Even when backup Tyrod Taylor came into the game Brown continued to play well. Aaron Mellette played good as well. This is bad news for Raven receiver Tandon Doss. Before the preseason Doss was a favorite to win the third wide receiver job. After poor play including a costly miscommunication with quarterback Joe Flacco Doss may be on his way out in Baltimore.
Tyrod Taylor was neither spectacular nor horrible. He ran the ball very well but he did throw a bad interception over the middle. Taylor is as exciting of a backup quarterback as you will see in the NFL. Taylor was shaken up after slipping and sliding past defenders setting up a field goal but got leveled. He was tested for concussion symptoms.
After that we got a taste of what the fourth preseason game has in store. The young players trying to make the team played like their lives depended on it. In truth it may have been the most inspired play of the night. There were a few standouts to me. Albert Mclellan was very solid. John Simon struggled some in coverage but it is hard not to be excited about his burst off the line. Rookie safety Matt Elam showed growth.
The biggest disappointment of the night may have been special teams. In the 1st half the Ravens gave up 6 points to a Ted Ginn punt return. The kick return coverage was bad all night.
It was a roller coaster of the night. In the first half the Ravens offense showed a glimpse of how good they could be but failed to keep it up. The defense was very solid. The Ravens starters redeemed themselves coming out of the half. In the dress rehearsal to the regular season the Ravens proved to have a lot to work out. The Ravens need to find a rhythm but there are many things to be excited about in Baltimore.
Ravens Show Flashes Not Sustained Good Play in First Half. | Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens started the first half playing with a wonderful energy. After the defense had an impressive 3 and out the offense marched down the field for 6 points. This was just a flash of what could be in a half that was mostly a struggle for the Ravens. The offensive line was overpowered and there was subpar receiver play. Joe Flacco struggled throwing a couple of horrendous interceptions and was beaten up by the defense. In a half of subpar play there were flashes of spectacular play. The Ravens looked better in week 3 of the preseason but there is much work to do before the regular season.
Defensively the Ravens were good with only a few concerning plays. The run defense was impeccable and the Ravens were able to put pressure on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Newton was a magician on a few plays avoiding would be sacks. The score is not indicative of the defense’s performance as 10 of their 24 first half points were from Ravens turnovers. The defense was not the problem…at all.
Offensively the Ravens only managed 1 good drive that gave them their only touchdown of the half. The Baltimore offense struggled for several reasons. The offensive line was as atrocious as they could be. The wide receivers were not on the same page with Flacco as evidenced by Flacco’s first interception. Flacco threw it right to freakishly amazing linebacker Luke Kuechly because Doss was not in the right place. Flacco did not play great but remember he spent most of the half running for his life or on the ground.
There were flashes of hope. Brandon Stokley had a couple of huge 3rd down conversion receptions. Marlon Brown took advantage of reps with the first team. Ray Rice had some big running plays and there was one great drive. The offense looked better but was out played by the Panthers defense. The Ravens struggled to keep drives alive with poor play and penalties. There are so many kinks to work out for week 1 of the 2013 regular season for the Baltimore Ravens.
Though the Baltimore Ravens have seen anything but strong play from their starters, it is preseason football. I am in the business of analyzing what is seen on the field. Thus-far the Ravens have not shown their full potential and so I have been forced to call it as I see it. We must remember mistakes in the preseason are always fixable. Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, I expect to see the Ravens play at their best.
The third preseason game is the dress rehearsal for the season opener. This is where the starters will expect to see a little more than a half of playing time and they open up the playbook. It is the time where the starting units gain the rhythm and confidence they will take into the offseason.
The Ravens have a history of less than spectacular beginnings of preseason play. They almost always play great in the third preseason game. Last year all be it against lowly Jacksonville the Ravens looked like world beaters in their 3rd preseason game. The Ravens also have a history of going into the season sharp. John Harbaugh has never lost a season opener with the Ravens.
The Ravens were playing vanilla boring football with their starters in the first two weeks. They do not want to give the Denver Broncos anything to go off of. I think this is a bad mindset. First remember that the gameplan is different for every week based on the talents of your opponent. Secondly how can you evaluate your players if calling a purposefully bad game? Expect the Ravens, especially on offense to throw their best plays at the Panthers. Baltimore knows it is the time to get into regular season shape.
The Baltimore Ravens starters have done some good things this preseason. It is important to know that it is my job to critique every little thing. If the Ravens are the team I think they are Thursday night will be a lot of fun.
In Few Chances Furstenburg and Mellette Shine | Chris Schisler
The biggest battles this preseason for the Baltimore Ravens is at receiver and tight end. This has been amplified by the unfortunate injury to star tight end Dennis Pitta. They brought in Visanthe Shiancoe (pronounce in any of 5 ways). After the first preseason game the Ravens were compelled to sign two veteran pass catchers in Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley. While the acquisitions of Stokley and Clark may help the answers may have been in front of the 2013 Ravens from the beginning. In few opportunities rookies Matt Furstenburg and Aaron Mellette have played very impressively. They in my opinion have earned a chance to show what they can do in the starting offense against the best competition.
Coming into camp there was a lot of talk about Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss. Thompson had a bad drop in week one of the preseason and went on to be injured. Doss has shown little ability to create separation and has dropped too many passes. Mellette all be it against backups has two touchdowns including a bomb from Tyrod Taylor against the Falcons. Furstenburg has caught both catchable passes thrown his way. He has shown the ability to run good routes, catch in traffic and be a decent blocker. All while Shiancoe has seen 5 drops in two games. While Thompson, Doss and Shiancoe had high expectations and have disappointed, Furstenburg and Mellette are grabbing the attention of the Ravens faithful.
Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson look to be the number one and two tight ends. This is merited as they are the only ones on the team that have proven they can produce. I see Dickson more as a big slot and flex tight end. I see a role for Furstenburg as a more conventional tight end. He reminds me of Todd Heap. He can go up and get the football and he runs good routes. There is really little to dislike in Furstenburg’s game. He provides more than the veteran Billy Bajema now and has a much brighter future. At the very least his potential should catapult him over Bajema on the depth chart.
Aaron Mellette and Furstenburg have not been looked at as candidates for starting jobs but their play has earned a chance, at least in my eyes. Mellette was a late round draft pick from Elon and Furstenburg was amazingly a undrafted rookie free agent. Mellette and Furstenburg are looked at projects, as players with potential. If Furstenburg had a quarterback at Maryland and if Mellette played at a bigger school they would have been drafted much higher and expected to come in right away and play. Their play warrants live reps with Joe Flacco and the starters in the third preseason game. Even if they will not win starting roles they have earned the chance; especially in a preseason where everyone in front of them has been utterly disappointing.
It is premature to say that they need to be given jobs as starters but they have earned more opportunity with sensational preseason play. We need to evaluate them against starters and playing amongst starters. If we don’t we will never really know how good they can be and what they can do for us right now. One thing is certain: In a preseason where there has been a magnitude of bad play for the Baltimore Ravens Mellette and Furstenburg have shined.
5 Quick Notes from Cleveland and Detroit’s Preseason Matchup | Chris Schisler
The Cleveland Browns looked very good to start their game against the Detroit Lions. The starting units played pretty much the whole first half. Here are some quick notes from the starters play.
1.) Brandon Weeden looked very sharp.
Brandon Weeden is coming into his second year and with a new offense. Weeden looks confident and comfortable in the new offense. The Browns quarterback displayed great footwork and timing. His accuracy was beautiful and consistent. He looked like a whole new quarterback. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop this year in Cleveland.
2.) Paul Kruger is overpaid
Former Raven Paul Kruger was given a shocking 5 year $40 million dollar contract by the Cleveland Browns early in free agency. Kruger with exception to one broken down play by Detroit was nowhere to be seen. Kruger could not fight off blocks and was useless on the edge for the Browns defense. Kruger was dramatically overrated in Baltimore and drastically overpaid in Cleveland.
3.) Reggie Bush is perfect fit with Lions
For a team that is passing happy Bush is a perfect compliment. Out of the backfield Bush should serve as a safety valve. The Lions like to attack vertically and Bush could help them pick up some cheap first downs.
4.) Jamal Sheard is all over the place
The Browns outside linebacker that was really impressive was Sheard. Sheard displayed more quickness than I expected and in a 3-4 is a nice mix of size, strength and speed on the outside. Sheard tackled well and was busy when Detroit tried to run the ball. I was impressed.
5.) Injuries all over the place for Cleveland
Thin on the offensive line already it is hard to evaluate Cleveland’s starting offense completely. Jason Pinkston left the game with a right ankle injury of undisclosed severity. Barkaveous Mingo will miss some time with a rib injury. They lost Dion Lewis their back up runningback to a fractured fibula.