Whether starters or backups, veterans or rookies, none of the Ravens had much problem disposing of the Washington Redskins last night in the first preseason action of 2009. There was plenty of good that comes from a double-digit shutout win, of course, but there was also some bad sprinkled in. Here’s what I noticed:
Michael Oher = BEAST
Wow, what a game this kid had. We knew he was going to be solid, but he came out and absolutely mauled people from the start. Any of you picking up Madden today, let me know what Oher’s run-blocking rating is – because anything less than say, a 95, isn’t giving the man-child his due. He straight up pancaked at least two Redskins.
Now, if only we could get the guy a helmet that fits.
Oher lost his dome-piece twice, the second time right before he bashed heads with the Skins defender, and was a bloody mess as a result. After going into the locker room to get three stitches to close the gash (and some saran wrap around his noggin to hold on the gauze), Oher was right back on the field.
Looks like another great pick by the Ravens’ front office.
Joe Flacco was a quiet 9/15 for 103 yards. Joe Cool didn’t do anything spectacular, but he was efficient in going through his reads, avoided any sacks or turnovers, and led two 60+ yard scoring drives. Unfortunately, both drives stalled in the red zone (Deja Vu alert). Perhaps Flacco’s best throw of the night, a sideline pass to Marcus Smith, bounced off Smith’s chest.
Troy Smith saw the most action last night, throwing 30 passes and completing 14 of them for 200 yards and a score. He was impressive in his ability to sidestep pressure and extend plays, but Smith still has a tendency (as I noted here) to lock on to his primary reciever. It didn’t hurt hit against the Redskins’ 2nd-teamers, but against a starting NFL defense, methinks it would be a different story.
John Beck wasn’t bad either, going 5/9 for 105 yards. He may give Troy some competition for the backup job, yet. He looks too good to be a #3 QB in the NFL, though.
All 3 quarterbacks benefited from…
Ray Rice caught a short check-down from Flacco in the 1st quarter and turned it into a 34-yard gain. Near the end of the game, Jayson Foster grabbed a quick out from Beck, dodged a defender, and raced 64 yards before being pulled down just short of the goal line. Foster likely earned himself a closer look as camp continues.
This is an area where Ravens receivers have struggled year-after-year, and it was nice to see somebody step it up, even if it was just a RB and a likely-to-be-cut WR.
I mentioned that the kicking game would be interesting to keep an eye on. Steve Hauschka was 2/2, hitting from 21 and 37 yards, and put one of his kickoffs into the end zone, though not deep enough to garner a touchback. Gano hit from 39, but banged a 28-yard attempt off the right upright as time expired. He probably wishes Coach John Harbaugh had just let the clock run out.
As promised, new DC Greg Mattison ran most plays out of his base 3-4 defense, going light on the blitzing. He admitted after the game that he was not satisfied with the amount of pressure the Ravens were able to get on the QB while only rushing four, so it will be interesting to see if his tactics change at all moving forward. While Kelly Gregg, Justin Bannan, and Haloti Ngata are all extremely effective D-linemen, getting to the QB has never been any of their bread-and-butter. The return of T-Sizzle to the lineup will obviously help, but there were times watching the game when Ravens fans, more accustomed to an aggressive scheme, wanted to see more bodies flying towards the pocket.
Still, the Ravens racked up 3 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery, and ended the day +2 in the turnover department. We’ll happily give Mr. Mattison’s debut a favorable review.
Did veteran return man Chris Carr have a few butterflies in his first appearance in purple? He called for a fair catch on a punt return when nobody was within about 12 yards of him (although, as pointed out by the RaveTV broadcast team, this could have been due to his noticing that the Ravens had already been flagged on the play), and dropped another punt before scooping it up and gaining positive yardage.
Jayson Foster had the best punt return of the night, a 21-yard gain.
Ledarius Webb, a guy we have big hopes for here at the Nest, had returns of 6 and 10 yards, an unspectacular start.
Yamon Figurs, widely considered the odd man out of the group, did nothing special on punt returns either. However, he did have two receptions, one of which went for 42 yards. He’ll likely need a couple similar performances catching passes in the coming games to make the opening day roster.
Speaking of Receivers…
Ravens wideouts had an up-and-down night. Marcus Smith dropped a couple, including the aforementioned sideline throw from Flacco. He tried to redeem himself by making a tackle on special teams, but he injured himself in the process, and is rumored to be seriously hurt.
Justin Harper, the star of training camp so far, had 4 catches for 57 yards, including a 19-yard TD, but had at least 3 drops of catchable balls. Some consistency would be very nice to see.
Kelley Washington and Demetrius Williams, two guys who will likely see plenty of the field (barring injuries) in 2009, combined for 3 catches for 42 yards. We’ll excuse Washington for doing the Chad Pennington “air stab,” because he looked -300% as dorky doing it as Chad does.
Ravens 23 Redskins 0
Just wanted to type that one more time, because hey…kicking the crap out of the skins is always fun, even if it is just practice.