Friday, August 12, 2011

Thoughts on Preseason Game #1

Well it wasn't pretty but did we expect it to be? Short offseason, lost a lot of depth and a lot of first and second year players are being asked to step in as starters. So it's going to take some time for this team to gel, if it ever does to the point we expect them to.

The first team offense only managed to score 3 points in about two drives, but Dennis Pitta was the bright spot, looking every bit like Todd Heap as he hauled in a 27 yard pass from Joe Flacco over the shoulder of his defender on the first play of the game. Pitta finished with 4 catches and 47 yards. WR Tandon Doss (3 rec. for 26 yards) also impressed, showing good route running skills and solid hands.

On the ground, Ray Rice only managed 7 total yards but looked good on a couple of runs. Jalen Parmalee owned the team's best drive that resulted in a turnover at the goal line. He rushed for 35 yards on 7 carries. But QB Tyrod Taylor gained the most yardage, 59 yards on 6 carries. The OL looked weak and couldn't open many holes for Rice and Flacco didn't have much time to check down on passing plays.

As for Taylor, he showed signs of promise, especially when running the ball, and completed 67% of his passes for 179 yards. His two interceptions were disappointing, especially one at the goal line, but Taylor is a work in progress and it's unrealistic to ask a 6th round pick to look polished. But you could see why people compare him to fellow VT alumni, Michael Vick.

The defense was a mixed bag as well. Paul Kruger was the unit's standout, recording a sack and putting good pressure on the Eagle's QB's. But starters Chris Carr and even Ed Reed were burned on a big play in a drive that resulted in an Eagles TD. Thank God the Ravens signed Bernard Pollard, who played well, recording an INT and making some big tackles. But when the first stringers were on the field, Eagles QB Michael Vick was running the offense like a well-oiled machine and the Ravens had no answer to stopping them. The defense as a whole allowed too many big plays and even Eagles third string QB, Mike Kafka, was able to throw the ball in the middle of the field all night.

On special teams...well, the special teams didn't get a chance to play much due to the new kick-off rules that moved the ball up five yards which allowed for tons of touchbacks. Over the course of the season, the amount of touchbacks is going to get ridiculous.

As I said, the new faces and lack of depth on offense provided some interesting plot lines, but most of the results weren't pretty. Moving forward, the Ravens have a lot to work on if they consider themselves Super Bowl contenders, and last night proved the need to get a veteran presence at WR and back-up QB.

This is nothing we already didn't know, so the Ravens need to get busy filling some holes.

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