The Ravens first team offense and defense were efficient. The first string defense allowed only 11 total yards on two drives. The secondary held it's own against a very fast Saints team that could have done damage with a missed tackle or botched assignment. Even though quarterback Drew Brees did not start, the Ravens were without Jimmy Smith, so I consider it a solid exchange.
#Ravens LB Terrell Suggs on first-team defense allowing 11 yards on two drives: "It's hard to start the season any better than that."— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 14, 2015
The Ravens first team offense was brutal. Joe Flacco ended the night 5-of-6 for 33 yards and a quarterback rating of 89.6. Flacco utilized check downs primarily throughout his limited action and did not take unnecessary chances with the ball to keep the chains moving. The big work was done by second year rusher Lorenzo Taliaferro as he rushed 12 times for 36 yards and a touchdown, with his first drive being mostly 5 yard rushes before scoring from a yard out. The offensive line looked like they picked up where they left off in 2014 by being a dominant force for both Flacco and the rushing attack.
The Ravens kept themselves clean early in the game and destroyed the Saints on that front as the Ravens finished the game with only 6 penalties for 65 yards, while the Saints ended with 16 penalties for 143 yards. The first team defense and offense both were phenomenal in not losing their cool and instead playing clean, physical football.
The Ravens had only one major injury, to reserve tight end Allen Reisner. You never want to see injuries, much less season ending injuries, but to have the only major one come to a player that was unlikely to make the final 53-man roster is a positive.
The Ravens started the game up by 13 points only to allow the Saints to come back and outscore them by the fourth quarter. The last two minutes might not have been a thing of beauty, but it was a solid drive by the third team offense and young quarterback Bryn Renner as he finished the drive off with a much needed touchdown with only two seconds left to put the Ravens up for good. The Ravens regained their earlier form and made clutch plays on offense in order to finish the game with a win.
The Ravens reserves on offense and defense left a lot to be desired, especially on defense as they missed tackles and assignments to allow the Saints to march back and eventually overtake them. Missed coverages and bad play by mostly the linebackers gave up big plays and touchdowns to the Saints offense that had been easily contained all night long before that point. I would not want to be the second or third team defense in meetings or on the field the next time they get back to the training facility.
No splash plays:
The one thing that we touched upon all training camp long is that the Ravens were working on splash plays, which were sorely lacking from the 2014 NFL season. Even though several defenders got their hands on the ball, there were no turnovers in the favor of the Ravens, including what should have been an interception at the end of the game with a hail mary going right to a Ravens' defender. Apparently more work is still left on the defenders catching passes.
Offensively, the only turnover was from Matt Schaub, who stared down his receiver so badly that the defender was able to jump the route. On that play, Jeremy Butler did little to help Schaub out, which helped give up the easy interception. It was something that we have seen a lot from Schaub during training camp and something that I had hoped would go away completely. Schaub looked good before that point however.
For a first preseason game, you are really only looking for players to get some meaningful reps and not get hurt. For the Ravens to keep penalties down and come out with few injuries is a blessing and something that the Ravens should be happy about. There are things to tweak, but overall, both sides of the ball held their own fairly well and this looks like a solid team with a ton of depth.