Ravens Face Questions, Tough Decisions With One PS Game Left
Game 3, a 26-15 win over the Eagles, wasn’t your typical game 3. It was cut short due to weather. It is usually a dress rehearsal for the starters, playing into the 3rd quarter, stretching them out. However, neither team started their top quarterback. The Ravens also gave the night off to Marshal Yanda, Mark Ingram, Willie Snead, Ronnie Stanley, and Brandon Williams. The Ravens held joint practice in Philly with the Eagles for two days prior to the game, and it was two of the hottest, muggiest days of the summer. No doubt you want to give some guys needed rest.
The Ravens did give us the highly anticipated debut of first round pick, Marquise Brown, and wasted no time getting him the ball. On the first play of the game he ran a short hitch route where he was given a huge cushion by the cornerback. He finished the night with three catches for 17 yards and a two-point conversion.
It’s not hard to see that Marquise Brown is going to factor into the Ravens plans going forward. But they have a lot of tough decisions ahead with one more week of practice and one more preseason game to go in which we likely will see a lot of the bubble players featured heavily.
Disusss your thoughts on this topic on our message board.
The first tough decision might be Trace McSorley’s spot on the depth chart. McSorley completed the first half 16-20 passing for 203 yards, 2 TDs through the air and rushing for another, earning it with a head first lean as he neared the goal line. He played through the 3rd quarter finishing with a 112.7 passer rating. McSorley was expected to be a weapon on special teams given his athleticism, and maybe used as a decoy from time to time with the offense. But with Robert Griffin on the shelf for the preseason, does McSorley lock himself into the #2 spot on the QB depth chart? Is Griffin a gameday scratch come the regular season, and then is McSorley going to be used on special teams if he needs to save his energy for, god forbid, if Lamar Jackson has to leave a game?
Do the Ravens need to address depth on the offensive line? Jermaine Eluemunor didn’t suit up for this tilt either. But rookie Ben Powers and second year player Bradley Bozeman failed to get much of any push in the run game. Holes were closed quickly limiting Justice Hill’s elusive ability, and De’Lance Turner had no chance on some of his runs in the second half. The running backs rushed 14 times for 32 yards. Mark Ingram, Barry Sanders for that matter wasn’t going to get going as quickly as the holes closed. The versatile James Hurst shifted to left tackle which has been his worst position on the O-line going back through the years. I can’t stress enough how important the O-line is as historically the Ravens go as the O-line goes. If you lose Yanda, or Stanley, they are going to be in trouble, especially as a running team. Furthermore, Patrick Mekari, a player squarely on the bubble that showed well last week, had his time cut short last night with the lightning in the area ending the game early in the fourth quarter.
How many wide receivers can make the team? We know for sure four names. Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead, Chris Moore. Last night two guys fighting for roles both found the endzone in Michael Floyd and Jaleel Scott. Do they keep five, six wideouts? The Ravens have also kept seven on the 53-man roster before. An undisclosed injury has kept free agent signee Seth Roberts sidelined since the first preseason game. He is heralded for his blocking as a receiver which would come in handy on a team focused on running the ball. But there are only so many spots to go around. Last night, running backs Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards didn’t play in the game, which suggests their spots on the team might be safe. Keeping four running backs (Justice Hill and Mark Ingram) could take away from a spot allocated to the wideouts. Tough decision indeed.
Onto the defense. Has Tyus Bowser done enough? He saw action in last nights’ game before Tim Williams did, entering in a sub package on the first 3rd down of the game. Both Bowser and Williams were put on notice at the beginning of camp by Don Martindale. Last night Bowser posted a sack and two tackles for loss. Williams flashed more in the first two preseason games. Perhaps there will be room for both. Shane Ray was brought in to join in the competition and has almost been missing in action. He rarely gets his name called. It goes unnoticed when he is on the field. But if the goal of his invite to camp was a form of motivation to light a fire under a pair of young, talented edge rushers in Williams and Bowser, then mission accomplished.
Does Otaro Alaka become this year’s undrafted rookie who the Ravens historically have make the team? Inside linebacker is the thinnest position on the roster and the Ravens certainly want to take their time bringing Chris Board back into the fold after a concussion a week ago. Being the preseason, the Ravens can afford to be mum on the seriousness. But if week 1 is in question, Alaka looks like the leader to be the third ILB. He flies around the field and seems to always be around the ball. One play in particular stood out last night where he was a blitzer and then changed direction to the sideline when the pass was thrown. Alaka got the sideline to get in on the tackle. His stock is rising at the right time, and should get ample playing time, probably a starting role next week.
The Ravens have won their 16th straight preseason game. Number 17 is on the line next Thursday night when the Ravens travel to take on the Redskins in the final tune up before it counts.
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]