Hall of Fame Game vs. Chicago: Immediate Reaction
Ongoing notes during the Hall of Fame Game to open the 2018 season. Discuss your thoughts on what you saw compared to my notes on our message board.
Ray Lewis was the last of the Hall of Fame inductees to take the field pre-game. If you thought he would enter with his trademark dance, you would be right. Of course he did.
According to Jeff Zrebiec:
Defensive players who didn’t dress: Jimmy Smith, Tony Jefferson, Eric Weddle, Jaylen Hill, Terrell Suggs, Bam Bradley, Brandon Williams, Tyus Bowser, C.J. Mosely, Kai Naacua.
Offensive players who didn’t dress: Joe Flacco, Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown, Mark Andrews, Greg Senat, Quincy Ayanbedejo, James Hurst, Marshal Yanda.
New rules involving the kickoff and leading with the helmet will be interesting.
Kaare (pronounced ‘Corey’) Vedvik kicks off, not Justin Tucker. We’ve heard about the Norwegian’s booming leg and he blasts the opening kick out of the endzone.
Chase Daniel gets the start at QB for the Bears and is sporting Jim Harbaugh’s #4 from his days in Chicago. Chase Daniel doing Chase Daniel things. Down in the redzone threw a pass off his lineman’s helmet, popped in the air, and was picked off by Ravens safety, Chuck Clark as Johnny-on-the-spot.
First look at the offense and it’s Robert Griffin III getting the start. Other notables are Nick Boyle in over Hayden Hurst. Patrick Ricard is infact playing both ways tonight. Fullback in the I-formation and at defensive end. Before we even get a look at the other guys, Breshad Perriman drops an easy ball into the hands of the defender. Perriman needs to put on a show to make this team, I think. He is off to the worst start he could possibly have.
Back on defense it’s Albert McClellan making the calls in the absence of C.J. Mosley. Patrick Onwuasor alongside him. Onwuasor draws the first helmet to helmet flag and ensuing discussion on the new rule begins.
Bears take an early 7-0 lead. McClellan has not looked good on two drives now. Seen what looked like some miscommunication on a play. Now a missed assignment on his part. McClellan is a heralded special teamer on this team. Can play middle linebacker in a pinch. But that was not a good look for a bubble player.
Tonight’s starting O-line for the Ravens is:
LT – Randin Crecelius
LG – Alex Lewis
C – Matt Skura
RG – Jermaine Elumanor
RT – Orlando Brown Jr.
Timid play early on. Nick Boyle with an easy drop to start the next drive. His, Perriman’s drop, defense looks a step slower than the Bears offense. Have to clean it up. Have to wake up.
Perriman makes a catch on the same exact ball he dropped on the last drive.
Down in the redzone Maxx Williams gets the Ravens on the board with a 5 yard TD reception from Griffin. Both guys need good showings to make their way onto this team in about a month’s time. Vedvik for the PAT, good. 7-7 game with 4:00 left in the first.
Bubble player, Kamalei Correa, and rookie linebacker, Kenny Young, get on the field. Promptly Correa nabs an interception to set up the Ravens in the redzone. The Ravens defense is picking up where they left off when they led the league in takeaways in 2017.
A sack of Griffin sets up a chip shot FG. Vedvik good. 10-7 Ravens.
The first quarter ends with a Tim White punt return. Also had a kickoff return. Nothing of note from the highly touted sleeper.
Starting the second quarter, the left side of the O-line looks like a sieve with Griffin taking another sack where he stood no chance. Justin Evans and Maurquice Shakir are the culprits. Longshots to make the team anyway. Might want to be cautious with Lamar Jackson when his time comes.
Vedvik is punting for Sam Koch as well. Nice 48 yarder with minimal return on his first attempt.
Run/pass options, the new wrinkle in this Ravens offense, looks like go to on 3rd down and short where the defense has to guess. Griffin with one on 3rd and 2 keeps it and picks up the two yards to extend the drive.
Orlando Brown Jr. If he gets his hands on you, you are done. Plain and simple. Couple of pancakes there. We’ll see how he does against speed rushers, first string guys in the upcoming games I hope.
Vedvik on his second punt was perfect, pinning the returner to the sideline at the 11-yard line. Only gained four from there to give the Bears poor starting field position. Starting to see what all the hubbub is about with Vedvik. Koch and Tucker are safe, he’s auditioning for other teams. Ravens have an eye for this. Stephen Hauschka and Will Lutz are couple guys the Ravens have also had in house at some point who are having successful careers.
Mid-way through the second quarter. Getting to the point where the most exciting things are Michelle Tafoya interviewing the new inductees. Storytime if you will. Randy Moss strikes me a such a humble guy to be there, which is a 180 degree turn from how he played the game.
Oh what a tease, Al Michaels! Coming out of break, cut to Griffin taking a seat for the night, pause for a few seconds…Josh Woodrum enters the game. Pretty sure everyone sat up on the edge of their seat to get their first look at Lamar Jackson. Have to wait until the second half. Woodrum made a slight case to back up Flacco in the last preseason. The Ravens were not able to keep him on the practice squad at first. He was claimed. But the Ravens would later claim him back.
Ravens first overall selection, Hayden Hurst , makes his second catch of the night. This time with a defender draped over him. Hurst dropped only three ball in his college career and he brought his hands with him. Pretty important feature for a tight end. Two hands that work.
Hmm. Tim White lets a punt bounce that maybe he could have fielded. Costs the Ravens 17 yards in field position. A special teams stickler like John Harbaugh will not be happy with that effort. He makes up for it with a grab in stride on 3rd and 11 to jump start the Ravens who will get a little work in the two-minute drill to end the first half.
Josh Woodrum runs for 18 yards. Lamar Jacksons response is probably, ‘hold my beer Gatorade’.
Halftime. 10-7 Ravens. Thoughts….
The kickoff rule looks weird having no one run up to the line. But the results are the same. Returns out to the 20-30, or touchbacks. They say it supposed to be safer. If it is safer, and the results, the actual kickoff remains for all intents and purposes unchanged, then keep it. Don’t go to the extremes of just not doing it.
The helmet rule took about six minutes of game time to become an issue. In fairness, Onwuasor’s helmet was lowered and did hit the Bears players helmet. But already I can see this being a problem just based on how the rule is written. You can’t lower your head to make a tackle, period. It’s already happened on other plays and went uncalled. But this will be a talking point during an otherwise quiet preseason.
Please, don’t get Jackson hurt in the upcoming half.
In 2017 the Ravens led the NFL in “12” personnel looks (two tight ends). 35% of the time they went two tights. Hayden Hurst looks like they should do more of the same combined with Boyle who will likey get the bulk of the snaps early in the season.
Third quarter opens with Ray Lewis’ turn to tell a story. Talks reminiscing about draft day with Jonathan Ogden last night. I don’t think they’ll be able to stop Lewis from talking. He went on through the entire opening drive of Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson time. Here we go. First play was a bootleg turned into a run for a few yards. Takes his first NFL hit and gets up. Three and out. Settle in, he’s playing the rest of the game.
Correa now flagged for the new rule. Yeah. Lead with the shoulder, but the head is on top the shoulder. I don’t know what you do. Correa clearly wasn’t trying to deliver a crushing blow. Just, making a tackle.
Ravens pick up their third turnover. Sixth round pick DeShon Elliott forces the fumble. Ravens take over.
Jackson with another scramble, this time picks up big yards for a first down. Tony Dungy in the booth talking about how teams will have to play zone because you can’t turn your back on a QB with this kind of ability. His first pass sails high and incomplete. But his second one is a nice throw on the run, on a rope to fellow rookie Jordan Lasley.
Ravens are the beneficiary of the helmet rule. An awful one it looks like as the defender led with the shoulder into the chest of Hayden Hurst but the head moves, because its attached to the neck which is attached to the shoulders. Hust comes right back on the next play and catches a TD. 17-7 Ravens. Commence Lamar Jackson overreaction to throwing a TD against undrafted free agents.
Kenny Young shoots the gap on a 4th and 1 to make a big run stop and give the Ravens the ball back. Nice play by the rookie.
The hype around Jackson just took a hit. Throws his first interception on a comeback route to his left. He threw a late ball and threw the ball off the mark. Defender did a great job to jump that route.
Noticing second year pass rusher, Tim Williams, is playing a little more here in the third quarter. Will like to see him take a step forward this year.
Kamalei Correa is playing deep into the third quarter. He was in there early in this game too. I think for a bubble player, the staff must want to give him every opportunity to show he belongs here. He’s winning the battle over McClellan it looks like.
Fouth quarter is underway and fourth round pick, cornerback Anthony Averett, has trouble getting his head around and finding the football allowing for a big gain and a 1st and goal for Chicago. They will settle for a FG, 17-10 Ravens.
After watching some of the kickoffs, the NFL might have actually got this one right. It looks safer by the eye test. There are blockers out there, but not the violent collisions we used to see. Blockers mean a returner can still bust one loose. Still having a kickoff is something I think all fans want to see.
Get the ice baths ready. Ravens QBs have been sacked eight times tonight. Ouch.
I know it’s not even the usual preseason game one yet. But with the game almost over, Ravens QBs have thrown for 4.74 yards per attempt. I hope that isn’t a precursor to the season to come, where Marty Mornhinweg’s passing offense has been historically inefficient here.
Wow. Bennett Jackson gets a flag on a completely clean hit. That’s five of these tonight I believe. Maybe one should have been called, and wasn’t even a dangerous hit. No one is out here in the Hall of Fame Game head hunting, or trying to end the careers of guys who are trying to stick on a practice squad, maybe. This is insane. Even Terry McAuley, NBC’s version of Mike Pereira, because we need more of those, said it shouldn’t have been a foul.
Player who helped their stock the most tonight is easily Kamalei Correa. Three sacks and an INT in the books. With 2:44 left in the game, he’s still out there playing. As I type that, the Bears score a TD and will go for two. No one needs OT in this game. The conversion is no good and the Ravens cling to a 17-16 lead.
One thing we didn’t see tonight on defense was any “freelancing”. Looks like a very vanilla defense run by Don Martindale tonight. Most starters didn’t dress. No need to expose anyone, including yourself.
Wow. The last 40 seconds of game clock has taken about three hours. Okay, only a slight exaggeration.
Final Score: Ravens 17 – Bears 16
No one got injured. That’s a win for everyone.
The Ravens open up at home in one week, August 9th at 7:30 against the Los Angeles Rams where we might see the starters in their first action. If only for a drive or two.