Likes, Dislikes, Questions: Ravens vs. Colts
The Ravens win yet another preseason game, this time over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football (sort of) 20-19. Here are some of the things I liked, disliked, and questions that I have going forward with one real preseason game left where the starters should play at least a half, and then the bubble players game to close things out.
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On the very first play of the game Joe Flacco goes deep. Not only was it great play call, but Flacco had good protection, stepped up in the pocket like a pro, put the deep ball on the money to John Brown, but in the end a great defensive play was made to knock it to the turf.
The Ravens went a little up tempo to start as well. After the deep incompletion they were back in the huddle in a hurry and ready to snap the ball within 20 seconds. Then a nine yard run by Buck Allen and were ready to snap it on 3rd and 1 within 10 seconds. Throughout the game the up-tempo-ness led to some well-timed hard counts that drew the defense offsides.
On the defenses opening drive there was a play where Anthony Levine quarterbacking the secondary, moved Tavon Young onto a different receiver, and Young ended up defending the pass. Whatever Levine saw worked out well, and lends a little bit of truth to the reports of Don Martindale giving his players free reign and responsibility out there. Levine also came up with an INT of Andrew Luck down in the red zone.
Got to see Ryan Grant in a Colts uniform, who the Ravens somehow got out of a 4-year, $29M contract with when he failed their physical. The contract for a guy like Grant’s resume was questionable at best. Of course we saw Grant drop two passes that killed a Colts drive. Like seeing Grant not wearing purple after that.
Joe Flacco connected on a TD pass over the middle to John Brown. It looked like replica of the ones we saw a lot of when Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta were in their best years here, running that little seam route in the red zone from the slot toward the post. It’s been five years since we’ve seen that pretty of one. Flacco looks dialed in, looks crisp, looks five years younger out there.
Later in game, rookie CB out of Alabama, Anthony Averett stood out. The Colts had 1st and goal inside the 5-yard line. Averett sought out the ball carrier on a sweep to the left, made an open field tackle to keep him from scoring. On the next play he was in press-man coverage on the slot receiver, covered him like a blanket and got a hand in there to make sure the receiver didn’t secure possession preventing a score. On 3rd and goal the Colts threw the traditional fade route to the corner of the endzone and it was Averett again on the coverage of a bit of a poorly thrown pass. Secondary is looking deep on this Ravens squad which is necessary given the recent news about Jimmy Smith, who didn’t play last night, facing possible suspension from information leaked out during a custody hearing.
Fumbles. Fumbles. Fumbles. It’s the fastest way to lose your spot on the depth chart. Buck Allen with a fumble in the backfield on 3rd and 1 of the first drive. The fumbles continued when Tim White had the ball ripped from his hands on a punt return. White cannot afford mistakes like that with Janarion Grant breathing down his neck for the returners job. Grant would get the return shots the rest of way with White on the bench. But…in the 3rd quarter Grant coughed it up too! Are you kidding me?
On the Colts 2nd drive saw we them convert three 3rd downs in a row. Twice to TE Jack Doyle, and once to a receiver in a spot vacated pre snap by Eric Weddle. Defenses will tire fast if you can’t get off the field on 3rd down.
Lamar Jackson entered about mid-way through the 2nd quarter. On a 3rd down he had a clean pocket, plenty of time, and an open window between two zones to hit Janarion Grant for a first down. The pass was off the mark and Grant wasn’t able to corral it. Jackson is gonna be raw, going to take time to develop. But you got to make that pass. Later he’d take a deep shot of about 40 yards and overshot Jordon Lasley by five yards. Then he took off running on a play and dove head first, taking a hit and losing the ball, although it was ruled the ground caused it. He’s got to protect himself. Game on the line, Super Bowl on the line, dive head first. If not, protect yourself kid. To Jackson’s credit, he did make a pretty pass on the run, a well-placed bullet to Chris Moore for a TD. His better looking throws have been on the run.
Orlando Brown Jr. looked to have a little trouble with John Simon. Yes, that John Simon, former Ravens draft pick. A gym rat speed rusher that wasn’t fit for OLB, nor DE. He’s bulked up a bit as he’s bounced around the NFL since the Ravens cut him some years back. He’s a rusher that relies on speed and he was able to set the edge on Brown a few times, also picking up a sack on the night of Joe Flacco. It should be noted that Brown didn’t have the luxury of playing next to the best O-lineman of the last decade in Marshal Yanda. Instead it was James Hurst at right guard with the first team. Hopefully just one of them days for Brown, and it wasn’t even a bad one. Even Jonathan Ogden probably still has nightmares about Dwight Freeny. One of the best left tackles ever just didn’t have an answer for Freeny one night and looked like a turnstile. It happens.
Mark Andrews for two games now (DNP in the HOF Game) has been seeing the field later than the other tight ends. Tonight that included Maxx Williams. Andrews they look at as more of a slot receiver than a hand in the dirt TE. But is it possible he’ll end up being a tweener? Not good enough a blocker to line up with a hand in the dirt. Not good enough to gain separation and run crisp routes as a receiver? He’ll likely get a lot of run in preseason game 4. Where does Maxx Williams stand, and would the Ravens really keep four TEs? (Hurst, Boyle, Andrews, Maxx).
Speaking of receivers, is Breshad Perriman going to make this team? No one, including Perriman, behind Chris Moore on the wide receiver depth chart is stepping up and taking an opportunity being presented to them. Maybe the Ravens keep only five WRs allowing them to keep four TEs? A lot of two tight end sets would minimize the need for six WRs. The Ravens led the NFL in two tight end sets last year.
Will Robert Griffin III get some play against stiffer competition in preseason game 3? It looks like he’ll be on the roster. It looks like he’ll be better than Jackson if Flacco were to go down with an injury. Have you seen enough of Jackson against a few first stringers and mostly second stringers to warrant dropping him down to 4th quarter duty in game three against the third and fourth string? Maybe give Jackson all of game 4 where starters don’t even dress? Get him his reps, but also challenge RG3?
Will the Ravens offense keep the up-tempo approach going when the season starts? It’s one of those things that looks great and gets us all excited, then it goes away. The downside of it is when you go up-tempo but go three and out a couple times in a row, the defense gets taxed. Under Dean Pees they notoriously gave up yards in chunks and ultimately end of half, end of game points. That leads to my final question…is that a trait that doesn’t show up in the Martindale defense? Time will really tell on that one.
What does Adam Vinatieri eat for breakfast? I have to know how a 45-year-old in his 23rd year in the NFL (meaning he has played pro football longer than he hasn’t) kicks a 57-yard field goal with room to spare in what looked like little to no effort. Kudos to you sir.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]