Looking under the hood of the Ravens 16th consecutive preseason win reveals a significant weakness in the offense.
The offensive line turned in an awful 2nd half with only 1 first down and led just 1 drive of more than 6 plays the entire game.
The Ravens now have a question of health or effectiveness for every single tackle on the roster. A practiced excuse maker might cite:
The absence of Yanda is exposing more problems for Orlando Brown
The unsettled LG position similarly has left the parade of LTs exposed
Injuries will clear up since no starters will be expected to play much from now until September 8th
The entire OL has not had a chance to build cohesion by playing together against live fire
The Eagles have a good defensive front, so the pressure vs the tackles on Thursday night was an aberration
I’m not buying it and believe the Ravens need to identify a viable backup left tackle by the opener from among Eluemunor, Senat, Hurst, a player acquired by trade, or a waiver claim.
OL by Series
Here are the offensive linemen by series for Thursday’s game against the Packers:
Notes on the OL rotation:
Marshal Yanda continues to sit and Harbaugh has said they will have him ready for week 1.
Jermaine Eluemunor suffered an injury during the week for which he had to leave in the passenger seat of a cart. Not only does that represent a setback for the Ravens depth at LG, but it may mean the team begins the season without their most reliable backup tackle.
The play of James Hurst at LT combined with the absence of Stanley, Eluemunor, and Senat cast a pall over the Ravens tackle situation. The Ravens need to have a healthy starter and backup at LT, which is why the return of at least 1 of Senat and Eluemunor is so critical. Were the season to begin with a hobbled (even if active) Stanley and neither backup, I think the Ravens will have to find a solution by trade or waiver claim.
Ben Powers had a holding penalty for the 2nd consecutive game, but played the entire contest split between RG and LG. Bradley Bozeman similarly played the entire game split between LG and C. I plan to have scoring for these players later this week.
Patrick Mekari entered on the last drive of the first half and split time between C and RG. That’s a step back in terms of entry point from the Green Bay game.
Orlando Brown again played the entire first half of the game and was challenged by the Eagles DEs, including Brandon Graham.
LT was a black hole for pass blocking. Both Hurst and Applefield were awful.
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.
Applefield (-1/-1): Marcus had a tough night which started with parts of a QH and 2 pressures on consecutive plays (beginning Q2, 1:12). He would later be flagged for holding. As discussed above, the Ravens are in dire need of a quality backup tackle, but the Eagles defensive line made it difficult for anyone to look good.
Boykin (0/+1): We saw more of the same from Miles with a long catch and evasion down the left sideline (Q1, 2:31) for 44 yards (17 + 27 YAC) to go with a drop on a pass that was not as well thrown on the right sideline (Q2, 13:48).
Every great young WR prospect goes through a honeymoon period where fans are so happy with his flashes, they forgive inconsistency. Baltimore has experienced this feeling before with Patrick Johnson, Travis Taylor, and Breshad Perriman. I believe Boykin has the highest ceiling of these players, but there will come a time this season when the fuse will run short on his difficulties securing the football. Complicating the matter is the fact Trace McSorley, who has shown good sideline accuracy, won’t be the QB throwing him the ball. For Boykin to excel, he not only will need to reduce his drop rate, but become a consistent bad-ball catcher like Chris Moore.
Bozeman (0/+1): I have yet to score the game block for block, but Bradley appeared to have a solid pass-blocking effort along with the other interior players.
Brown, Marquise (+2/+2): He’s healthy, which is a big part of this grade. I assume he will sit the final preseason game and can focus on his connection with Lamar Jackson in practice. Despite the fact Oklahoma used him in jet motion regularly, he totaled just 3 college carries. The fact the Ravens have shown this wrinkle may provide additional downhill opportunities by freezing the edge defender. At a minimum, it adds an available layer of scheme from which Roman can build more run and pass plays.
As a receiver, the Eagles gave Brown lots of space and he used it effectively to make 3 short receptions, including 1 catch on a bad ball by the right sideline. I specifically loved the catch that didn’t count on the 2-point conversion. Brown extended that play and found space in the back of the end zone (Q2, 11:49). Jackson already has TEs who can extend plays, but Brown appears to have a knack for finding space after the route as well.
Callahan (0/0): He converted a first down with his legs (Q4, 13:25) that was the Ravens only first down of the 2nd half. Just 2 plays later, he avoided a sack before lightning caused the premature conclusion of the game. He should get at least a quarter in the final preseason game.
Dixon (-1/-2): Missing this game didn’t advance his chance to make the roster. However, given the way the line was unable to create holes vs the Eagles front and run blitzes, it may be just as well Kenneth sat. I’m interested to see how they handle his playing time in the finale. I think they know what he’s capable of and don’t need to risk an injury which would result in a larger cap charge for a 4th-year player and eliminate any chance to trade him for a conditional pick or surplus player on another roster.
Eluemunor (0/+2): DNP, see notes above. In 2 weeks, Eluemunor has moved from being a player who looked as if he was losing the LG position to the likely starter at LG and most viable swing G/T on the team. The apparent need for him at both spots increased with the line’s performance against the Eagles.
Ervin (0/0): He ran once for no gain on the game’s 2nd-to-last play and lost a chance for further playing time to the weather. If Dixon is cut, he could be 1 of 2 RBs (with Turner) the Ravens try to keep on the practice squad.
Ezeala (0/0): He played 3 snaps, but did not make my notes.
Floyd (+2/+1): He made his first 3 catches of the preseason for 54 yards and is in the discussion for the last WR spot. He showed good sideline awareness on the touchdown catch (Q2, 6:41), but he appeared to mistime his leap on the 2-point conversion that followed.
Herdman (0/0): He and Scarff again split the 2nd half snaps at TE. In addition to a 2-yard reception, I noted him for a nice run block to help lead Turner (Q3, 2:33).
Hill (0/+3): Justice was forced to use his elusiveness behind the line of scrimmage on a night where he finished with 8 yards on 7 carries with a long of 3. He lost a 13-yard run to Skura’s hold (Q2, 7:43) and was unable to collect McSorley’s dart at the goal line (Q2, 11:53). However, he helped impede CB Josh Hawkins on McSorley’s TD run. I charged him with a partial pressure when bulled by LB LJ Fort (Q2, 13:08), but his play of the night was an upending cut block on LB Nathan Gary to maintain ample time and space (ATS) on the 44-yard pass to Boykin (Q1, 2:31).
Horn (0/0): He was targeted once on 3 snaps (Q3, 8:17) on which CB McKinnon undercut the route and nearly had an interception.
Hurst, Hayden (0/-1): I can’t sugar coat the preseason he’s had with just 2 receptions on 6 targets for 9 yards. He caught a 10-yard pass in this game and was also overthrown in the end zone when he did not have separation. I expect he’ll be a significant part of the 2019 Ravens offense, but it’s time to start seeing evidence of his ability to find space and make contested catches.
Hurst, James (-1/-1): See notes above. I noted a missed block and contributions to 3 separate pressure events in the first half (Q1, 8:37 and Q1, 6:02 and Q1, 5:21 and Q1, 0:19), which all came opposite RDE Vinny Curry.
McSorley (+2/+3): This was a step forward in terms of decision making, not just results. I noted just 1 pass with significant interception risk (Q3, 8:18). He otherwise led receivers well and used back shoulders. He had good accuracy to the outside, including the 44-yard pass to Boykin (Q1, 2:31), the 28-yard TD to Floyd (Q2, 6:31), and even the knee-high incompletion to Boykin by the right sideline (Q2, 13:48), which was in a safe spot.
He moved well in and out of the pocket to avoid being sacked and took just 2 QHs from emerging star DE Josh Sweat. His play extension allowed for the 2-point conversion to Brown (negated by penalty) and the 19-yard completion to Moore (Q2, 0:50).
He’s now put together 2 impressive end-of-half touchdown drives in 3 games, including the 10-play, 69-yard effort versus the Eagles in the last 1:11 to follow up the 21-yard FG drive (TD negated by holding) in the last 0:20 vs Jacksonville.
Unfortunately, the Eagles demonstrated that Trace does not have the speed to run the read option against a disciplined opponent. He relies on deception to run effectively as he did last week on the 17-yard conversion on 4th and 1 and his week on a 4-yard conversion (Q1, 10:30). He is otherwise neither elusive or fast enough to make trouble on the outside as we saw on 2 plays Thursday (Q1, 0:53 and Q3, 1:58).
Despite high-quality play, I still don’t believe Trace is a lock to make the roster. There may be other teams looking for a backup after cut down day which may include 2 Ravens preseason opponents, the Eagles and Jaguars. That said, he is a player who the Ravens might be able to stash long enough to resign after week 1.
Mekari (0/-1): See notes above.
Modster (0/0): He entered on the first drive of the third quarter and played 6 snaps as a slot receiver without a target.
Powers (-1/+1): See notes above. The hold by Powers (Q1, 1:23) was unfortunate and probably unnecessary, but it was also the result of Prince allowing the pocket to be flushed left by pressure from DE Daeshon Hall. I don’t otherwise have a note for a pass blocking error. I will include him in block-by-block scoring later this week.
Prince (-1/-3): He again played the entire 2nd half in relief of Orlando Brown and had difficulty as a pass blocker versus DEs Daeshon Hall and Josh Sweat. Despite the Ravens lack of tackle depth, I don’t believe they will try to sign him to the practice squad.
Ricard (+1/+5): His game score comes from his defensive contributions. He played just 5 snaps on offense.
Roberts (0/-1): He missed his 2nd consecutive game, but Jonas Shaffer reported he is again practicing on 8/24.
Scarff (0/0): He entered late in the first half and played to the end of the game. He was not targeted as a receiver. I have 2 positive run-blocking notes for him that contributed to gains of 6 and 7 by Turner. Unfortunately, he also lost the edge to blow up Turner for no gain (Q4, 14:08) and surrendered a pressure to DE Sweat by bull rush (Q3, 8:18).
Scott (+1/+3): He was targeted 5 times with just 2 catches for 11 yards which was unimpressive on the surface. However, Jaleel had another 27-yard reception wiped out by a ticky-tack offsetting pass interference call (Q2, 1:00). He was behind the defense for what would have been a 25-yard TD (Q2, 0:42) and laid out for the ball, but it was just out of reach. Unlike Hurst, who slowed while tracking a pass down the same sideline earlier in the preseason, it appeared Scott ran full speed based on his relative position to the CB. He then collected the fade for the TD 6 plays later, using his size effectively and snatching the ball at its high point (Q2, 0:11). He may not be a lock to make the roster, but I think he’s separated himself from Wesley and the team must now decide between Floyd, Roberts, and Scott for either 1 or 2 spots.
He’s come a long way for a guy I thought would have great difficulty making the team.
Senat (-1/-1): DNP. If Senat can return and play as well as he did against the Jaguars, I expect him to make the roster with the questions the Ravens now have at OT.
Smith, Jaylen (0/0): He entered on last drive of the first half and contributed a 9-yard catch on the end-of-half drive (Q2, 0:36). He and Wesley are both good PS candidates.
Turner (0/0): DeLance’s overall numbers weren’t bad (6 rushes for 24), but he had to be frustrated with the OL he was running behind. I expect him to be on the PS and play well if needed.
Vahe (0/0): DNP
Wesley (0/0): He played 12 snaps but was not targeted. He made a nice block on the CB on Turner’s 12-yard run (Q3, 13:30).
Williams, Darrell (0/0): DNP on offense.
Williams, Isiah (0/0): DNP.