Well. That was an experience. And not a good one. It seems as if the reports from camp about the Eagles being the far superior team were right. The Baltimore squad struggled in practically every facet of game. Let's take a look at some of the story lines that have emerged thus far.
There's Not Much of an Offensive Line To Speak Of
The Ravens starting offense simply couldn't get anything done, and the fault lies for the most part squarely on the offensive line. The injury-riddled unit fielded a bare-bones lineup tonight. In the second quarter, Ryan Jensen, Marcel Jones, Leon Brown, Robert Myers and Nick Easton was the group the Ravens were fielding. When all was said and done and the bleeding finally stopped, the team was left with only nine healthy offensive linemen.
Rick Wagner, Jah Reid (back), Darryl Baldwin, and Blaine Clausell did not dress for the game. Guards Kelechi Osemele (Achilles) and John Urschel (concussion) also did not suit up. In addition to the pre-existing injuries, both De'Ondre Wesley and James Hurst were knocked out of tonight's game. Wesley suffered an unspecified injury, but reportedly limped off the field. Hurst was involved in a collision and has now entered the concussion protocol.
This Ravens unit was praised as one of the best lines in the league, and was expected to be a centerpiece for the team. However, if the group can't even make it into the season healthy, then it's a big concern. The team needs a great offensive line to be good. The 2013 season is a prime example of what can happen when an offensive line goes bad.
Fiasco for Flacco
Joe Flacco received limited action in the game, but was absolutely awful when he was on the field. Flacco went 3-7 with 23 yards and 2 INTs. The first pick wasn't necessarily his fault, a deep lob that was tipped to a defender. But his next two mistakes were unacceptable. An overthrow to a wide open Marlon Brown on a crossing route resulted in his second pick. But Flacco wasn't done yet, and overthew a receiver once again, this time missing a wide open Maxx Williams. Not the greatest outing for Flacco and the whole first team offense, which totaled 69 yards and no points.
The other two QBs on the depth chart, Matt Schaub and Bryn Renner, had much better outings. Schaub went 11/18 for 115 yards, and Bryn Renner built on last week's good showing, posting 158 yards and going 15/21.
The Ravens gave up 17 accepted penalties for 139 yards. That is unacceptable on all accounts. Granted, Jerome Boger and his crew seemed to scrutinize the Ravens. But still, the Ravens were giving the refs reasons to call penalties with little small errors. There's no doubt that Coach John Harbaugh will have a field day going over the film and drilling it into these players heads what they did wrong at the line.
One penalty in particular that will fuel discussion come tomorrow morning is Terrell Suggs' hit on Eagles QB Sam Bradford. Suggs absolutely laid out Bradford, with the point of impact being Bradford's knees. Terrell was hit with a 'roughing the passer' penalty, one of three penalties to his name on the opening drive, but the consequences may be even harsher than just that.
Whether you choose to believe Bradford or not is a matter of opinion. However, considering the league's conservative policy on hits, I wouldn't be surprised to see a nice fine coming Suggs' way.
Special Teams Woes
On the Ravens' side of the ball, DeAndre Carter muffed a return for the second week in a row. You just can't do that.
As for the Eagles, running back Kenjon Barner destroyed the Ravens on a nice 68-yard punt return touchdown. The Ravens didn't stay in their lanes at all, as only Zach Orr got a hand on Barner. Last year's unit didn't give up a single punt return TD. This was Barner's second return TD of the preseason.
On the plus side, kicker Justin Tucker was his usually self, nailing a 48-yard extra point.
Yes, you read that right. Tight end Konrad Reuland was called for a chop block on a two-point conversion, and the 15-yard penalty pushed back the Ravens for a very long extra point attempt. If Tucker had missed it, the play would've been a perfect representation of tonight's game.
Run Defense, Where Art Thou?
Another group of guys that the Ravens pride themselves on didn't show up at all. The worst part is that this unit is relatively healthy. Philadelphia simply ran the ball wherever and however the wanted to, producing 46 yards rushing and two touchdown runs in the first quarter. If you watched the game, the touchdown runs looked like the Ravens defense was the CPU in Madden. It was dreadful.
As a whole, the Ravens first-team defense allowed 14 first downs and 17 points. Not very pretty.
- LT Eugene Monroe - was reportedly nursing his hand and lower arm on the sideline.
- HB Lorenzo Taliaferro - taken to the locker room after suffering an apparent knee injury. Details have yet to emerge.
- TE Maxx Willams - was shaken up with an undisclosed injury, but returned in the second half. I'd like to note that Maxx is an absolute baller. He isn't afraid of contact from what I've seen.
- OT James Hurst - concussion-like symptoms after a collision.
- OL De'Ondre Wesley - limped off the field and to the locker room with an unspecified leg injury.
The Bright Spots
Yes, I assure you some good did come out of this game.
Darren Waller built on his camp hype, grabbing 3 receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown. The giant 6'6" Georgia Tech product had arguably the best night of any wide receiver.
Asa Jackson did a fine job fielding kicks. No mistakes from him.
Arthur Brown had a nice sack on Matt Barkley. At the moment, it's one of his best plays ever.
Maxx Williams showed grit and determination, grabbing 3 catches for 25 yards. If there was a chance to hurdle someone or extend the play, he tried. Our own Yitzi Weiss also pointed out that he pancaked an unsuspecting Eagles player on an extra point attempt.
The running game was actually pretty decent, despite the offensive line woes. The team posted 150 yards on 33 carries, which translates to a 4.5 YPC average. Terrance McGee led the pack with 44 yards on 11 carries.
Yes, it was ugly. But it was the preseason, and that's what you should continue to tell youself. Some key details that have been left out were the fact that the Ravens intentionally made 'vanilla' play calls, and that the teams' headsets weren't working for the first half.
Coach Harbaugh said the team purposely didn't game plan for Eagles tempo on offense and they didn't have phones on first half.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) August 23, 2015
#Ravens coach John Harbaugh said headsets weren't working in first half, which made it difficult to relay calls
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) August 23, 2015
The truth is, the Ravens weren't going to throw anything fancy at the Eagles. The squad was injury-riddled, and this result was somewhat predictable. Coach Harbaugh and crew have their work cut out for them this week, but this organization has overcome adversity so many times before, and I don't see why they can't do it again.
It's just another bump in the road on our way to lifting the Lombardi.