OL Disaster

I can’t recall the last time the Ravens entered any game as beat up on the offensive line.  To exacerbate the problem, the Ravens gave 2 or 3-position trials to 7 different linemen.  These sub-optimal conditions led to all sorts of continuity problems (as if the 1-on-1 losses were not serious enough).

At the heart of the problem is the Ravens weakness at tackle where the Ravens used 8 different players and

Good Analysis

I liked the years the Ravens had Brian Billick as a preseason color commentator and the Ravens have not taken a step back to go with Mike Nolan and Rod Woodson.  It’s nice to have 2 defensive guys analyzing the offense and show so much understanding of what they are trying to do.  That came out in spades with the explanation of Huntley’s TD run.

OL Usage by Series

The most significant indication of roster decisions during the preseason is the order of entry.

Here are the offensive linemen by series, something that often tells a story about the team’s plans:

Notes on the OL rotation:

  • Bozeman’s injury may be the most significant event from the first preseason game.  Let’s hope the early reports it is not serious are accurate.
  • Villanueva played just 7 snaps, but he surrendered a bull rush pressure to DE Onyemata (Q1, 7:20).  I still look at the fact Villanueva has not seen time at LT as positive portent for Stanley’s return by the opener.  Despite the Ravens’ propensity to make 1-for-1 switches on the OL to maintain continuity in past seasons
  • Powers had a brief trial at C during camp last season that was unwound after several errant snaps.  This week is the first I can recall seeing him play tackle.  He’s got more value if able to play tackle in an emergency, but not if he’s as ineffective as a pass blocker as he was against the Saints (see below).  Despite a solid finish to 2020 as a starter, Powers is now squarely on the bubble in year 3.  I don’t think the Ravens have typically showcased players for trade (kickers aside), but one could make a case this was such an instance.
  • Phillips too slow at LT, also bad at LG.  Details on his blocking are below.  The Ravens need to consider another OT acquisition before the season begins.  I expect we’ll see more of Phillips at RT in the next 2 weeks.  It’s more likely Phillips could be slotted there in the event of an injury to either Stanley or Villanueva.
  • Mekari’s length was an issue again at LT.  In 1 series there he was bulled by Davenport who easily won the first-contact battle, and was flagged for holding him as well (Q2, 6:42).  He did a good job triggering a pair of neutral zone infractions.  He remains a physical guard or center, but as a tackle, he is for emergency use only.
  • Colon got a long trial as G/C swingman including 1st G and 1st C off the bench.  At a minimum, that means he’s ahead of Bredeson and Mancz.  I’ll be interested to see what indications the Ravens give as to his standing relative to Powers in the coming weeks.
  • Bredeson RG/LG/RG for extended look after first 14 snaps.  I scored him for just 1 pressure plus another missed pass block where the ball was out quickly.
  • Andre Smith was awful at RT.  He is ponderously slow and doesn’t use his length effectively.  It may be all you need to know that he entered as the 3rd RT after Ben Powers had 20 snaps there.  I have him for a false start, 3 pressures plus another that resulted in a 22-yard run by Huntley.
  • Schofield got a long look at LT/LG.  He played some lesser competition, but still allowed 4 pressures in approximately 45 total snaps.
  • Mancz was last to enter at C and next-to-last as guard—not a good depth chart spot.  He’s 29 and has been in the league since 2015 while piling up just less than a full season of snaps.
  • Sarell was at LT for 3 drives total, including the Huntley TD and I scored him for just 1 pressure.  He was part of the counter on the game-winning TD.
  • Ealy had only 3 meaningful snaps at RT then a kneel-down drive.

The overarching theme for the Ravens OL play is a lack of continuity.  I find it difficult to get excited about any minor successes (like Bredeson) without more hope he could be a single change to a line that gets to play together week after week.

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.

Bateman (0):  DNP.  That grade is relative to what I expect with current understanding of the injury.  Based on typical understatement of severity, particularly with returns from surgery, my over/under on his yards for the season is 250.

Boykin (0):  DNP.  Based on the state of the receiving corps, he’s not gone yet.

Bozeman (-1):  See notes above.  Any lengthy injury would be serious for this OL.

Bredeson (0):  See notes above.

Cain (0): DNP.  He’s a practice squad candidate who probably would stick.

Cleveland (0):  A rookie lineman would typically drop by missing a week in preseason due to the resulting likelihood of missing weeks in the regular season.  In the case of Cleveland, he may have gained by the fact so many other interior OL took a step back, but it was revealed on Monday that he has a concussion, the recurrence of which could be an ongoing concern.

Colon (0):  See notes above.  His point of entry certainly suggests the Ravens intend to keep him.  In addition to the G/C snaps, they also brought him in as the 6th OL for the 2-point conversion.

Dereus (0):  He entered late and played just 6 snaps.  That one less than Siaosi Mariner, who joined the team last week and had a catch.

Ealy (0):  He played only 3 non-kneel snaps and did not make my notes.

Gray (0):  He was the 5th most utilized receiver, with 21 snaps and caught his only target for a gain of 11.

Hill (-2):  This was a disappointing offensive effort for Hill.  He was ineffective as a runner 5 carries for 8 yards, which might have been a function of the OL.  However, he also bobbled the one pass thrown to him as if he was trying to set a volleyball (PL4), missed a pass block on Zack Baun who beat him for a pressure (Q1, 1:00) and failed to make a pass block on another QH by Chase Hansen (Q2, 10:32).  He should have to do more than play special teams in order to make the team.  

Huntley (+1):  Harbaugh does not like inadequate ball security and made that clear on camera, but there are too many reasons to choose Huntley over McSorley for the backup QB spot:

  1. Tyler got the much stronger arm of the 2.
  2. He is a better stylistic fit to what Lamar can do, so the offense has to change less.
  3. He’s still in year 1 despite some play last season with 2 additional cheap years relative to McSorley.

We actually knew all this prior to Saturday’s game.

Mancz (0):  He entered on the 2nd drive of Q2 and played until the end of the game with 4 series at RG and 2 more at C.  They gave him a long look, but it’s important to note he’s a stopgap, not a long-term solution, since he’s a veteran player who will be a free agent at the end of the year.  That’s OK if he’s the 9th or 10th OL on the roster, but ideally, you’d want a younger IOL with upside or developmental tackle taking that spot.

Mariner (0):  He played 7 snaps and caught his only target for a gain of 6.

Mason (0):  His only target was a ball that was grounded at his feet by Huntley.  He can probably help the Ravens if something happens to Patrick Ricard and since there are relatively few teams that use a FB regularly, I don’t believe it would be a big risk for the Ravens to have him on the practice squad should the need arise.

McCrary (0):  He ran effectively (5 for 31), but he plays a little smaller than 6’, 213 lbs. and has not looked impressive as a pass blocker in camp, particularly in the ILB/RB pass blocking drill last week.  He missed a block on DE Carl Granderson (a tough assignment) who chased Huntley into the sack/fumble by S Eric Burrell.  He might make the PS, but the Ravens have been adept at finding stylistic matches from other teams’ cuts as well.

McSorley (-1):  He did a good job moving from a pocket that wasn’t there versus the Saints 1s, but he doesn’t have the legs to be a real threat running from pressure.  It was good to see him run the no huddle effectively briefly in Q2 and make good choices with the last few seconds of the first half.  All that said, he took a step back in the competition with Huntley and I would not be surprised to see Tyler get the shot to play earlier in the second preseason game. 

Mekari (-1):  See notes above.  I don’t find it useful to ascribe versatility to a player when he’s not adequate at one of those things.  Watching Mekari play LT versus the Saints should eliminate the desire to see him there again given the way he struggled with length and first contact.  That doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid backup (or even starter) at C/G where his length is less of an issue.  Sure, Mekari could finish a game at LT if you were out of other options, but he should not be the first backup option.

Moore, Jaylon (0):  Of the WRs, Moore had the most opportunity in P1 relative to my expectations with 32 snaps and 5 targets.  The good news…he found space on the sideline on a play McSorley had Ample Time and Space (ATS) for a 17-yard catch (Q2, 9:05) and got down quickly with a 15-yard reception to set up the end-of-half FG (Q2, 0:06).  On the flip side, he could not get separation from 3rd-round pick Paulson Adebo (who has excellent length and good speed) down the left sideline (Q2, 8:49).  That limited McSorley’s window and helped force the overthrow.

Oliver (0):  He played the 2nd most snaps of any offensive player and showed a little something as a blocker.  He blocked DE Noah Spence to lead Williams’ RL18 (Q4, 15:00).  He blocked LB Andrew Dowell to help McCrary convert a 1st down with RL3 (Q4, 9:57).  He was unable to secure a potential 3rd down conversion (Q3, 10:02) when he bobbled then lost the ball on a hit from LB Kaden Elliss.  On 4 separate occasions, he made a reception as the first-level read on a boot (Q1, 11:20; Q3, 14:16; Q4, 13:51; Q4 10:36).  On the last he made an ill-advised decision to spin out of contact and absorbed a bigger hit.

As an aside, a boot is generally unsuccessful when the backside edge defender identifies it and pressures the QB quickly, which typically forces a throw to the closest target to the QB.  That’s a lot of times to run similar unsuccessful boots in 1 game (not a reflection on Oliver).  Josh had only 2 non-boot targets the entire game, but he did enough as a blocker that his roster spot is not imperiled.

Phillips (-1):  He had perhaps the most difficult assignment of the OL, starting at LT vs DE Marcus Davenport and it did not go well.  He was party to 2 QHs (Q1, 0:56; Q2, 10:32) as well as 2 pressures.  He was improperly flagged for illegal man downfield, when the broadcast angle clearly showed he was behind the LoS as the ball was thrown.  One thing the Ravens will need to determine in the next 2 games is whether or not Phillips is an adequate backup RT.  As of now, I think Villanueva would move from RT to LT if Stanley is hurt and Phillips would fill in on the right side.  In terms of how the OL is set for the coming games, it makes sense that Phillips see time with the 2nd unit at RT.  To do so, the Ravens will probably be forced to move Schofield up to play LT earlier.

Poljan (0):  He was not targeted in 7 snaps, but Wolf was cut ahead of him, so they must like him more as a blocker.

Powers (-2):  He played 21 of 28 snaps at RT and the best thing I can say about his night is that it ended early.  Here are my unabridged notes:

  • (Q1, 9:55):  On 3rd/5, he was beaten inside by Onyemata who tackled McSorley RM-3
  • (Q1, 7:42):  He was pancaked by Davenport for pressure, INC/near INT was negated by offsetting DPI Adebo and OH Powers
  • (Q1, 0:34):  He lost right edge to Onyemata on RR0
  • (Q1, 0:16):  He was bulled by Onyemata to trip McSorley for S-5
  • (Q2, 15:00):  He was beaten outside by Onyemata to flush McSorley RR2
  • (Q2, 6:42):  On 3rd/11, Granderson dipped outside past him for flush RL9, negated by Mekari’s OH on Davenport

Proche (0):  The receivers are a hard group to judge with the Ravens OL woes affecting the QBs.  I’ve never felt more hampered to be without the top view of the coaches film.  In any case, 2 targets with 1 catch for 8 yards isn’t impressive or close to the blistering pace of targets he’s had in camp. 

Sarell (0):  Foster was bulled by DE Granderson to flush Huntley left which ended up as a 17-yard completion to Victor.  He otherwise stayed out of trouble as a blocker and was on the field pulling for the TD run 2 plays later.

Schofield (+1):  He entered midway through the 2nd quarter and played the remainder of the game at LT, then LG.  

  • (Q2, 3:19):  Bulled by DE Davenport for pressure, INC
  • (Q2, 0:21):  Bulled by DE Davenport for pressure on PL13
  • (Q3, 10:21):  Triggers phantom NZI on DE Granderson
  • (Q3, 1:49):  Beaten outside by LB Spence on PL1
  • (Q4, 6:39):  At LG, he and LT Sarell pulled right on Huntley’s RM7 TD
  • (Q4, 3:24):  On 3rd/11, bulled by LB Spence forces dump off PM4

He may get the opportunity to play with the 1s and 2s based on the Ravens need and multiple failures at OT (see Phillips above)

Smith, Andre (-1):  See notes above.  He’s not going to be able to help the Ravens this season.

Tomlinson (0):  He had more difficulty than normal as a blocker vs the Saints, including a bull from LB Shaq Smith who backed him up into the pulling Bredeson (Q3, 11:01) to blow up Williams’ RM-2.  However, since he’s the best stylistic match for Boyle, he’s very likely to make the roster if Boyle remains on PUP.

Verity (+1):  Never say never.  It’s not impossible the Ravens again trade a kicker for a draft pick, particularly if Verity has another game like he did Saturday.  By the way Kaare Vedvik, who spent time with 7 NFL teams, was drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL in the 2nd round of their global draft this April.   

Victor (0):  He was only on the field for 13 snaps and was targeted twice, both complete.  The 17-yard grab by the left sideline included sideline awareness and understanding of his responsibility when pressure derailed the play.  Good tape.

Wallace (0):  He was only targeted twice (0 catches) in 46 snaps (led all WRs).  I can’t spin that into a positive, but there could be plenty of opportunity for a WR to step up despite the depth of the group.

Williams, Ty’Son (+1):  Williams did a lot of things well against the Saints while Hill had an even broader set of difficulties.  He looked great as a runner both dragging opponents for a 1st down and a 2-point conversion and in space when he got to the edge.  He caught the ball cleanly and looked solid as a pass blocker.  As of right now, I expect he’d be the 3rd RB over Justice Hill.

Wolf (0):  He played the last 2 drives and did not make my notes.

Offensive MVPs:

  1. Tyler Huntley
  2. Ty’Son Williams
  3. Josh Oliver