According to our very scientific B’More Birds’ Nest poll, the majority of you want to see Troy Smith start the season as Ravens QB. Do you still feel that way after last night’s 3-5 25 yd 1 INT scoreboard scorcher? Sure, you Smith lovers will point to his scrambles that notched a few first downs, and that’s all well and good, especially with the problems the team’s offensive line will cause. But with the speed of today’s defenses, the days of the scrambling quarterback are over in the NFL. Case in point: Midway through the second quarter, Troy made a nice escape from a collapsing pocket and scrambled 18 yards for a first down. But two plays later, Smith *tried* to escape the same way, and turned what should have been a 5 or 6 yard sack by Jared Allen into a 12 yard loss.
Now, this kind of thing may be forgivable if Troy had shown any other qualities that make us think he can be effective. I will, by the way, happily give him credit for the audible he called that allowed Ray Rice to scamper for 42 yards on the opening drive. But his pocket presence is non-existent, his throws are inaccurate, and whatever “leadership qualities” he apparently has are not enough to cover up for his basic inadequacies as a quarterback. This job was his to win at the start of training camp, and the fact that he hasn’t been able to pry the starting gig from Kyle Boller unquestionably is enough for me to say he doesn’t deserve it.
Is Boller any better? In a word, yes. Now I’m not wearing my purple Kyle glasses and sitting here saying that his 8/8 to start the game was anything to get all excited about, especially when those 8 passes had only gone for 40 yards. But to boo him on his first incompletion, which came on his NINTH throw, shows just how ridiculous Ravens fans have become with their Troy-vision. Kyle’s interception on his last pass was exactly what we’ve come to expect from him, but he is still the better option at this point.
It is probably still, however, more likely that Troy Smith gets the start opening day against the Bengals. And I will gladly eat my words if he leads the team to some wins this year and proves himself to be a capable signal caller. But sitting here, on August 17, I just don’t see it.
Other thoughts on the game:
- The defense did not play well, obviously. They allowed far too many 3rd down conversions, and the backup cornerbacks Frank Walker and Fabian Washington took huge steps back after playing well in New England. With a veteran defense like this though, keeping in mind the pieces that were missing, don’t put too much stock in how they perform in the preseason.
- After looking so strong in the first game, the special teams unit underperformed a bit as well. The kickoff coverage team did well, allowing only 18 yards per return, but giving up 14 yards per punt return is nothing to hang your hat on. Also, Sam Koch put several in the end zone when he had a chance to pin the Vikings deep. And let’s hope the staff keeps a roster spot open for a kickoff specialist. These Matt Stover kickoffs to the 20 yard line are not going to cut it.
- Rookie Ray Rice was a huge bright spot, gaining 77 yards on 8 carries in the first half. This is doubly impressive when you remember that the Vikings were neck-and-neck with the Ravens all last season for the #1 rushing defense in the NFL. If you take away his 42 yard run, he still averaged 5 yards per carry. Hopefully, Willis McGahee was paying attention and it gave him the kick in the ass he obviously needs.
- Joe Flacco was much better in his 2nd NFL game. He showed more pocket presence, arm strength, and accuracy than either Troy or Kyle. His interception (that was luckily overturned by penalty) was a stupid throw. And his final pass wasn’t near anybody – not sure if he was just trying to kill the clock for another play or what, but that was just ugly. Overall though, he showed some good things.
What did you think, Ravens fans? Do you really still want Troy? Are you worried about the defense or do you chalk it up to a preseason effort?
photo credit: Baltimore Sun