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  1. #1
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    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE



    Here's my analysis for the Ravens victory over New England. Overall, I think we have to be pleased with tonight's effort.

    _________________________________________________________________

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Preseason Week 1 – Ravens vs. New England

    The Baltimore Ravens kicked off the John Harbaugh era with a 16-15 victory over the New England Patriots on Thursday night. While the preseason means little in terms of winning and losing, the coaching staff can take some positive things from the first preseason game.


    Here is a breakdown of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Preseason Week 1.



    The Good



    1st Half Defense – While six defensive starters did not play including Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata, Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs, Rex Ryan’s defense brought constant pressure through blitz packages and penetration by the defensive line. The Ravens defense played at a higher level than the Patriots offense, which did not include Tom Brady and Randy Moss.


    The defense limited the Patriots to less than 100 yards of total offense in the first half. Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel was confused and rattled by the constant pressure in the first half.




    Cam Cameron - Cameron brought an aggressive game plan to establish the passing game. The Ravens drove 57 yards on their opening drive setting up a Matt Stover 42-yard field goal.

    Cameron called several screen passes and used fullback Le’Ron McClain as a bigger part of the offense than in the past. Cameron varied his calls, using runs in passing situations while passing in a few short yardage situations.
    The ground game was not very productive as the offense focused on the air attack. Ray Rice carried 6 times for 12 yards.

    Keep in mind that Cameron did not have Willis McGahee, Todd Heap, Mark Clayton, and Demetrius Williams in the lineup.



    Return Team - The Ravens return team set up excellent lanes for return specialist Yamon Figurs. Key blocks were made by rookie Tom Zbikowski and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. Figurs also made several great moves to evade defenders in the open field. He will have nightmares of being caught on his 2nd quarter punt return to the 2-yard line.



    Fabian Washington - Washington displayed his strong cover skills by picking off two passes in the first half. He was also tough in run support registering two tackles. Critics in Oakland viewed his lack of commitment in stopping the run as his biggest weakness.



    Justin Bannan - The defensive tackle was a constant disruption in the New England backfield. Bannan will once again be a key member of the rotation on the defensive line.



    Jarret Johnson - While Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Bart Scott receive the publicity, Johnson quietly has become a very good linebacker on this star-studded defense. He was flying to the football and broke up a 3rd down pass in the first half.


    Brendon Ayanbadejo - Ayanbadejo fits right into the Ravens’ defensive style of flying to the football, registering 8 tackles and a sack. He was signed for his special teams pedigree, but coaches have to feel confident in his ability to play linebacker if injuries occur during the regular season.



    Discipline - While penalties piled up in the 2nd half with many reserves and rookies fighting for jobs, the team was disciplined in the first half, a trait missing from last season. The use of a play clock during training camp practices appeared to help as the team did not have any delay of game penalties.





    The Bad



    Offensive Line - While tackles Chad Slaughter and Mike Kracalik did not protect as poorly as some feared, they had difficulty in protecting Kyle Boller. Slaughter was bull-rushed badly by Richard Seymour on one play in the first quarter but was solid overall.

    Kracalik appeared slow as Pierre Woods ran right by him on several plays in the first half.

    Though the team did not make much effort to establish the run, the offensive line failed to open any big holes for Ray Rice or the other running backs in the second half. The offense only averaged 1.7 yards per rush.



    2nd Half Defensive Line - The defensive line struggled mightily as players such as Amon Gordon, Lorenzo Williams, and J’Vonne Parker were consistently pushed back by the Patriots offensive line. Gordon did register a sack.

    Patriots running back (and former University of Maryland ) running back Lamont Jordan carried 19 times for 76 yards.



    Derrick Martin - Martin committed a 15-yard facemask penalty and missed a tackle allowing a first down in the process. While Martin has played well in camp, he took a step back tonight in a very tight competition for the reserve defensive back spots.



    Ugly


    4th Quarter Offense - Joe Flacco looked like an overwhelmed rookie in his first NFL action. Flacco fumbled once and did not complete a pass in 3 attempts. The offensive line gave Flacco no time to throw.



    Troy Smith - No, not for his quarterback play but for his sideline behavior. What compelled a potential starting quarterback to dive after an errant throw on the Ravens sideline, putting himself at risk for injury? On top of that, he failed to even make the catch. Though Smith was unscathed, it was not something you would expect from a potential starting quarterback. While not a big deal, it shows some immaturity.





    Here is a breakdown of how the quarterbacks performed in the first preseason game:



    1. Kyle Boller – Boller made some nice throws, particularly on the opening drive, when the offensive line gave him time to throw. As in the past, he struggled to complete passes when pressured, which is nothing new. Boller looked fairly comfortable in Cameron’s new system.


    Boller did not take care of the football and had two turnovers. He fumbled on a sack and threw a pass into triple coverage that was intercepted by Shawn Crable in the 2nd quarter.

    Overall: Boller had a solid game completing 11-15 passes for 102 yards. The two turnovers leave a bad impression with the coaching staff. Boller appears to be neck-and-neck with Troy Smith in the starting competition.



    2. Troy Smith – Smith made some great throws including a 30-yard strike to Darnerien McCants. He made an even better throw that was threaded between two defenders but was dropped. Smith also showed his mobility carrying 3 times for 6 yards.

    Smith still stares down receivers and nearly threw two interceptions. He needs to improve his accuracy to receivers coming out of the backfield.

    Overall: While Smith only completed 5-12 passes for 76 yards, he showed some positive flashes. He appears to be almost even with Boller in the quarterback competition. Look for Smith to receive the start against the Minnesota Vikings next Saturday.



    3. Joe Flacco – Flacco was overwhelmed in his first NFL action as most rookie quarterbacks are. He aimed his first pass to the outside and threw a pass behind another open receiver. In his defense, Flacco had little time to throw behind a porous offensive line.

    Flacco will certainly have better days than this. Quarterback-starved Ravens fans have no reason to panic.

    Overall: Flacco did not complete a pass in 3 attempts. He lost a fumble on a sack. He is clearly the third-string rookie quarterback at this point, but the Ravens should bring this young and talented quarterback along slowly. He is the future of the franchise.




  2. #2
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    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    I would have put Flacco's debut in the "ugly" category. You aren't in Delaware anymore, Dorothy.


    WORLD CHAMPIONS 2000 * 2012




  3. #3
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    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    While Kyle and Troy are still in the compeition, I'd say it's more of a slight edge to Boller after this game.

    Troy might've had some good flashes, but he also showed some real bad mistakes. He blanked on one throw and nearly threw it right to a LB, who luckily couldn't hang on to the ball. He had a few passes tipped by DL. He made a couple errant throws, including one in the flat to Ray Rice. His stat line and play reminds me of his performance from last preseason. You would expect someone competing for a starting job to display better results. To his credit, he played a lot of that time with our 2nd team OL, which by now probably looks like a Pee-Wee football league OL.

    Boller was calm, composed, made very few mistakes. As Harbaugh said, take away two plays out there and you have a perfect game. One thing that impressed me is a play that was an incomplete...Kyle took a shot way down field to Yamon Figurs. Ball was on target, but Figurs didn't get enough separation from the CB and the pass was broken up. The commentators were saying if Figurs had not slowed down towards the end of the play, that probably would've been a catch and TD with his speed.

    Also a note on Kracalik. He was actually named Player of the Game...because he played virtually EVERY snap. He was the RT on the first team OL, then came back in to play LT on the 2nd team OL. While he looked like a guy who shouldn't be starting, he's definitley shown a ton of improvement from last year and he's looking like a good backup to keep around for a while.
    .
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    “When I think of a Baltimore Raven - we go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce, and we take your spork and we break it. And we leave you with an empty lunch. That’s the Baltimore Raven way.” - Steve Smith Sr.


    Call me a Special Teams coach again. I dare you! I double dare you, MFer!




  4. #4
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    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    Ditto about Flacco.

    Like bad cut of steak, the dude needs some seasoning. And he MUST improve next week if he thinks he is going to sniff the field in the regular season.
    WARNING: This post may contain material offensive to those who lack wit, humor, common sense and/or supporting factual or anecdotal evidence. All statements and assertions contained herein may be subject to literary devices not limited to: irony, metaphor, allusion and dripping sarcasm.




  5. #5

    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    A couple other notes...

    1) It was hard to judge the defensive performance all night because of the ineptness of the Patriot offense. Was that due to the defense or to bad offense? Not sure.

    2) I will say though that the backup interior D-line without Nagata and Gregg just ate up the interior of the Patriot line. Look at the tape and tell me how many times the Nose Tackle just blew by the center to disrupt the play.

    3) The offense is going to be much more fun this year. Much more diverse. As the commentators mentioned, we ran more screens in the first quarter than we did all last year. Part of that will open up the secondary for the 15 to 20 yard pass.. it'll wear out the defensive line opening holes later in the game.. it was VERY nice not to see a play where the TE creeps along the line of scrimage before a running play up the middle.

    4) The O-line will be better than people think. Cameron will mix up the offense with quick drops, screens and draws to slow the D down a bit making their job go from impossible to very difficult. That said, I can't remember too many blitzes in the first quarter or two they had to pick up.

    5) We need to get some TE's healthy

    6) What was Belichick's issue with the review that Harbaugh asked for?

    7) Meant to add this one earlier.. it was nice to see when we were inside the 5 that we powered the ball in on two straight running plays and didn't do some fancy lob pass to the corner of the end zone. Pound the ball.. make them expect that.. then you'll have the opennings for your TEs in the endzone..




  6. #6

    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    Quote Originally Posted by RavenScallywag View Post
    While Kyle and Troy are still in the compeition, I'd say it's more of a slight edge to Boller after this game.


    Last night, Boller noticeably outperformed Smith.

    I wish *both* had been better, but there it is.

    I callz em as I seez em.
    Festivus

    His definitions and arguments were so clear in his own mind that he was unable to understand how any reasonable person could honestly differ with him.




  7. #7
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    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    Quote Originally Posted by perryw9202 View Post
    7) Meant to add this one earlier.. it was nice to see when we were inside the 5 that we powered the ball in on two straight running plays and didn't do some fancy lob pass to the corner of the end zone.
    This was THE most notable series of plays in the entire game in my opinion. We're used to seeing Billick get all cutsie here. It was just refreshing to see Cam go ahead and pound it in there twice with the FB.




  8. #8

    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    Boller was the only one of the three to have any time to throw. Next week we will see how Troy plays with the ones.

    Flacco made two bad throws, and got stripped due to a horrible O-line.

    Ozzie continues to leave QB's who play the 4th quarter with no talent and no chance to succeed. We have seen this year after year, the guys they have playing in the 4th quarter would be second string at a small college.

    The play calling was refreshing, however I expected the younger linemen to get out in space better than they did on the screens.

    Justin Bannan played like a stud.

    The secondary was without a doubt the most solid unit.

    It is hard to judge all 3 quarterbacks when only one has played with the 1st stringers in a live game in my opinion. The rookie receivers are not where the QB expects them to be, whereas a Derek Mason is always where he should be.

    It is hard to be poised when you KNOW that the defense is going to beat 4 out of 5 of your O-line each snap.

    Yamon may have an awesome year.




  9. #9
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    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    I really wish I could have watched the game.

    I dont understand why some are saying one QB was better than the other two. The national media and the Setting Sun seem to agree that no QB really outplayed the other two.

    And there seems to be some concern with Flacco's play and his ability to adjust to the speed of the pro game. This morning on ESPN, one of the talking heads was saying that while its understandable that Flacco will need time to adjust, the team should be concerned with just how overwhelmed he looked.
    WARNING: This post may contain material offensive to those who lack wit, humor, common sense and/or supporting factual or anecdotal evidence. All statements and assertions contained herein may be subject to literary devices not limited to: irony, metaphor, allusion and dripping sarcasm.




  10. #10

    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    Quote Originally Posted by festivus
    Last night, Boller noticeably outperformed Smith. I wish *both* had been better, but there it is.
    I agree, but it's only one game so I don't want to read too much into it just yet. But for this game, I thought Boller looked really sharp outside of that interception, which looked pretty bad.

    Smith was really up and down -- he threw a few really good passes, but he also threw some terrible ones. He also seemed a little too eager to run out of the pocket, although that may be because he expected the pocket to collapse at any moment.

    Flacco just needs some time, evidently.




  11. #11
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    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    I toss out the Flacco debut due to nerves. He had future UPS drivers on the line, and held onto the ball too long.

    Jarret Johnson and Justin Bannan truly played like men possessed. JJ has really come into his own. I expect big things from him this year.

    There has GOT to be a TE out there who can catch the ball. Aside from Heap, the other guys are scrubs.


    WORLD CHAMPIONS 2000 * 2012




  12. #12

    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Ravens vs. NE

    Quote Originally Posted by yeahravens
    Ozzie continues to leave QB's who play the 4th quarter with no talent and no chance to succeed.
    Since when does Ozzie decide who plays in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game? I didn't see anything wrong with it anyway -- the fourth quarter in these games is almost always backups playing against backups.




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