The Streak

The Ravens extended their preseason-record win streak to 21 with an all-around effort vs the Titans where they scored the last 16 points and leaned on DL, ILB, and S depth despite resting a spate of players.

One concession to winning the game was in the deployment of safeties.  Many teams would have paired Geno Stone with Kyle Hamilton on the first team, but Stone played FS with the 2s and delivered a decisive effort (see below) in the 2nd half.  Instead, Hamilton was paired with Tony Jefferson in the first half and was also effective.

Seeing this organization reminds me a little of Earl Weaver balancing platoon lineups in a doubleheader to significant advantage.

Defense Plays it Straight

We’re still waiting to see what Macdonald has in terms of new packages. 

In this game, the Ravens played base or nickel on every snap but the last 2 of the first half (32 dime).  They did not play a single snap with 3 safeties.  They had 2 ILBs on every play.  Effectively, each substitution they made was a CB for a DL or a 1-for-1 change at a position group.

The Ravens had some deception rolled into their pass rush in terms of off-ball blitzes, stunts, and coverage drops, however, most of their pressure came as a result of 1-on-1 wins and much of it from down linemen.

Lack of OLB/CB Depth

The Ravens played without arguably their 5 top outside corners, Humphrey, Peters, Armor-Davis, Fuller, and Stephens.  They also played without backup SCB Ar’Darius Washington.

At OLB, Odafe Oweh played a single pass rush snap on the first Titans possession, Justin Houston did not play, Tyus Bowser remains on PUP, and David Ojabo is still recovering from his pro-day injury.  That left the OLB duties to Steven Means (32 in September), Daelin Hayes (4 snaps as a rookie in 2021), and UDFA rookies Jeremiah Moon and Chuck Wiley.

From a glass-is-half-full perspective, that’s a solid #5 through #8 group of OLBs who made some contributions to the win, but it looks as if 2 of those guys will make the team (Hayes and 1 other) and garner playing time if the Ravens do not look outside the organization.

Generating Turnovers

From a team perspective, winning the turnover battle 3-1 (or 3-0 had Hundley’s fumble been reviewed properly) is a big step forward from the -11 difference the team suffered through in 2021.  The forced fumble was a nice hit by Malik Harrison, but both interceptions were a product of having the Titans playing from behind and eyes in the backfield.  The ability to take advantage of tipped balls and pressured jump balls is something we hope to see much more of from the 2022 Ravens and it’s facilitated by having the lead.

Individual Grades and Notes

As in past years, I have given each Ravens player a grade from +3 to -3 reflecting how much my expectation of their impact on this year’s team changed based on their performance (game grade before the front slash, cumulative grade after).  I don’t rate starters, players who have no place on the team, or anyone for whom I don’t think I have any data for a judgment.  The players here are new to the team, rookies, on the cusp of making the team, have new responsibilities this season, in positional battles, or have otherwise have something to prove.

Armour-Davis (-1):  DNP.  His absence must be injury related (Harbaugh may have addressed it in the post-game presser, but I could not hear the question, but he referred to a 1-2 week “soft-tissue” injury, which is usually a hamstring).

Bynes (0):  DNP.  Since so much of his game is instinctive (play speed faster than actual speed), he didn’t need to play and the absence of him and Patrick Queen allowed the Ravens to find playing time for a deep group of ILBs.

Crawford (0):  He entered on the Titan’s first drive of the second quarter and rotated the rest of the game.  I recorded 1 pressure for him (Q4, 7:56, swam past LG 76 for pressure that contributed to Wiley’s QH).  He played 26 snaps and was credited with 3 tackle contributions.  He looked solid against the run.

Fagot (0):  He did not enter until the 2nd-to-last drive of the game and made 1 nice open-field tackle on a short pass.

Fuller (0):  DNP.  The Ravens have guaranteed his entire $2.5 million salary, so he’s going to make the team, but they would do well to see him in action against live fire this preseason to see what he has left.

Hamilton (+1):  He played the entire first half at FS and looked good.

  • (Q1, 8:53): He fought tenaciously (with his own teammates) for the fumble recovery to end the Titans second drive
  • (Q2, 15:00): He exploited Washington’s penetration to stuff RB Chesnut for no gain with Harrison and was part of the containment
  • (Q2, 14:26):  He lost backside contain of QB Willis on RL7 TD
  • (Q2, 9:02):  He ranged far to his left to contain Willis as Jefferson undercut him by right sideline

Harrison (+2):  Malik played the entire first half and consistently was in the spotlight with much more good than bad:

  • (Q1, 8:53):  He shed a block from TE Hudson and forced RB Chestnut’s fumble recovered by Hamilton
  • (Q1, 6:45):  He contained Willis to tackle RR2 after flush
  • (Q1, 5:23):  On 3rd/5, he blew up the blitz pick-up of RB Wilkins to flush Willis then chased him down for QH, INC
  • (Q1, 0:25):  He was unable to stay with RB Haskins in short zone allowing PM18 (2 + 16) [2] as he was outraced then stiff-armed
  • (Q2, 15:00):  He and Hamilton cleaned up Chestnut RM0 off penetration by Washingston
  • (Q2, 14:26):  He missed a tackle at the 4-yard line as QB Willis reversed field for RL7 TD
  • (Q2, 10:58):  He had pressure as Willis moved left but was unable to tip his sidearm pass to TE Hudson for PL5
  • (Q2, 4:08):  On 3rd/7, he was forklifted as a pass rusher by RB Wilkins but Means pressured Willis for INC

This was essentially Harrison’s first playing time on defense since week 7 of 2021 (1 snap since), so it’s nice to see him get back and make some splash plays.

Hayes (0):  Daelin played the first half with mixed results:

  • (Q1, 14:15):  He was blocked by RB Wilkins on near INT by Pepe Williams
  • (Q2, 12:18):  He was blocked by TE Okonkwo on Willis PL48 to McMath
  • (Q2, 11:40):  He was blocked by LT DiLauro to lead Haskins RL6
  • (Q2, 9:42):  He delivered frontside pressure vs. RG Roos as Means sacked Willis
  • (Q2, 9:02):  He beat RT Petit-Frere to flush Willis for RR6
  • (Q2, 0:28):  He rushed unblocked off left edge to flush Willis right on what became Jones S-7

Jackson (0):  Robert played the entire game as the 3rd CB and was 2nd on the team with 53 defensive snaps. I did not make a single note about his coverage, which is a good thing for a CB.  Woodside primarily went after LCB Daryl Worley.

Jefferson (0):  He played the entire first half in a traditional strong safety role where he had some back-end responsibilities.  When diagnosing downhill, he played well aside from a missed tackle (with Welch) on Chesnut’s RR29 (Q1, 1:48).  As he approached TE Okonkwo, the Maryland product pulled up rather than expose himself going up for the football to end a Titans drive (Q2, 4:08).  He played wing on the punt unit which included Hamilton on the opposite side and Stone as personal protector.  He represented special teams for the coin flip.

Jones (+2): He played like a man among boys and appears to be a key to rebuilding a youthful DL.

  • (Q1, 1:48):  He was blocked by C Levin as part of RB Chestnut RR29
  • (Q2, 10:18):  He stood up then shed C Levin to tackle RB Wilkins RM2
  • (Q2, 5:33):  He beat C Levin then LG Newman to slow RB Chestnut who was then tackled by Crawford RR2
  • (Q2, 4:49):  He backed up RG Roos to flush Willis for RM6
  • (Q2, 0:35):  He bulled LG Newman for pressure as Willis threw PR19
  • (Q2, 0:28):  He chased down QB Willis by right sideline for athletic S-7
  • (Q3, 9:00):  He was blocked by LG Newman and RG Wright to lead Chestnut RM6

All 3 of the Ravens active, drafted, rookie defenders made significant contributions.

Mack (+1):  He played 37 snaps, beginning late in the first quarter.  I had notes for him on contributions to 3 run stuffs (Q1, 1:04; Q3, 6:56, and Q4, 1:50).  He also had a pressure (Q2, 9:02) and a QH (Q4, 0:39).  He’ll be on some roster this season.

McClain (0):  He did not enter until the 4th quarter and played just 21 snaps, which may be an indication of where the coaches believe he is on the depth chart.  He drew the offensive pass interference on Briley Moore (Q4, 12:26) that negated a 14-yard play and immediately preceded Stone’s interception.  

Means (+1):  Steven played the first half and looked good as an edge setter.  He also had demonstrated effective pass rush moves.

  • (Q1, 14:53):  He was fooled on PA boot right as Willis pass was dropped by FB Carter
  • (Q1, 14:49):  He beat TE Hudson inside but had no help on RB Chestnut RR5
  • (Q1, 6:45):  He helped pursue QB Willis for RR2 tackled by Harrison
  • (Q1, 6:04):  He shed RT Radunz to tackle RB Haskins RR3
  • (Q2, 9:42):  He beat LT DiLauro outside for S-6, just missing FF
  • (Q2, 4:08):  He beat RT Petit-Frere outside to flush Willis right for overthrow
  • (Q2, 0:16):  On 3rd/12, he flushed Willis right and Hayes pursued to force throw away

Moon (0):  He played 39 snaps for a stretched OLB group beginning in the 2nd quarter.  He was flagged for roughing the passer (Q4, 14:06), but later delivered a QH and a pressure on consecutive plays (beginning Q4, 1:02).

Nichols (0):  He amassed 27 snaps at DT and had 2 QHs plus another pressure as I have it scored.  The Ravens had pass rush contributions from all of their interior defensive lineman which were primarily 1-on-1 wins and not based on scheme/deception.  That’s an encouraging sign with a defensive backfield that is built to complement pressure.

Queen (0):  DNP

Ross (+1):  He stood out relative to the other UDFA ILBs.  After entering in the third quarter, he played 22 snaps that included 4 tackles which tied for the team lead.  Among those was a stick of WR Goodwin that denied any YAC on a 3-yard completion (Q4, 6:26).  He showed both athleticism and awareness to tip Woodside’s pass for what became Stone’s interception (Q4, 12:01).

Seymour (-1):  He lost coverage of McMath on the longest Titans play (PL48, Q2, 2:18)

Stephens (0):  DNP.

Stone (+3):  Geno was a cut above the other players on the field during the second half which was the largest single reason why the Ravens were able to outscore the Titans 9-0 and continue the win streak.  He also played a key role on special teams with 10 snaps and aligned as personal protector on punts.  Defensively:

  • (Q2, 0:35):  QB Willis completed PR19 to WR Kinsey between Stone and Williams
  • (Q3, 5:43):  He missed a tackle at 5 yards on screen to Haskins PR7 (-5 + 12) [4]
  • (Q4, 14:53):  He streaked in unblocked off right edge to tackle RB Cannon RR-4
  • (Q4, 13:58):  He gambled on undercut of TE Moore but just missed pick 6 on PR6 (3 + 3) [5]
  • (Q4, 12:35):  He broke up QB Woodside 42-yard pass for the taller WR Burks at goalline
  • (Q4, 12:01):  He made a diving collection of Ross tip for INT
  • (Q4, 0:21):  He had tight coverage on 3rd/8, which forced QB Woodside to overthrow WR Fitzpatrick in back of endzone
  • (Q4, 0:15):  He rushed unblocked off the OLS for fast QH of Woodside who threw INC on Titans final play

Urban (0):  Brent played just 3 snaps on the first 3 drives.  He threw aside LT Petit-Frere (Q1, 8:53), but missed the tackle of Chesnut on what became Harrison’s forced fumble.  Despite the miss, that run penetration is exactly what the Ravens want from Urban.

Vereen (0):  He played 18 snaps, all in the 4th quarter, and saved his best for the final minute.  He delivered a hard undercut tackle of Wilkins (Q4, 0:39) and tight coverage in the end zone on 2 of the final 3 Titans snaps (beginning Q4, 0:25).  He may have improved his stock as a practice squad candidate.

Washington, Ar’Darius (0):  DNP.  He’s still listed as a safety on the Ravens roster, but his path to a roster spot is as the backup SCB. 

Washington, Broderick (+1):  He played just 10 snaps but delivered a pressure when he pancaked LT Petit-Frere (Q1, 14:15) and a penetration to blow up RB Chesnut RM0 (Q2, 15:00).

Welch (-1):  He started the game next to Harrison at ILB and played 35 snaps but had just 2 tackles and no positive coverage notes.

Wiley (0):  He took a heavy workload (34 snaps) with Moon on the Ravens depleted OLB unit.  In addition to 2 positive run notes, he delivered a QH when he bulled TE Briley Moore into Woodside (Q4, 7:56).

Williams, Damarion (+1):  Pepe played every defensive snap and demonstrated the most versatility of any Ravens defender with time at SCB, outside CB, and S.  He missed a pick-6 opportunity when he undercut the pass from Willis by the left sideline (Q1, 14:15).

Williams, Denzel (-1):  He saw action on special teams including at least 1 snap as a gunner, but he did not play defensively despite the lack of available CBs.

Worley (0):  He was among the team leaders in defensive snaps with 36 and frequently targeted by QB Logan Woodside.  He ended 1 drive by intercepting a jump ball at the 2-yard line (Q3, 4:48).  He also had tight coverage of WR Fitzpatrick in the end zone (Q4, 0:29).  He improved his chances to play for some team in 2022.

Defensive MVPs:

  1. Stone
  2. Jones
  3. Harrison