The Ravens capped off another perfect preseason showing on Thursday, defeating the Redskins by a score of 20-7. Baltimore took the short drive down to Landover and overcame a slow start to emerge victorious for a 17th consecutive preseason game.
Almost no starters played for either team on both offense and defense, and to be frank, the game was quite a snoozefest more often than not. On the bright side, the preseason is officially in the books and we can all move our focus toward the regular season, starting with Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins.
Here are five takeaways from Baltimore’s win last night.
1) “Preseason Dynasty”
In full disclosure, the Ravens miraculous preseason win streak is frankly irrelevant, at least in the big picture. These games are merely exhibitions and don’t have any bearing on wins and losses during the regular season ... but who cares? When you think about it, the fact that the Ravens haven’t lost a preseason contest in four years is impressive. Turnover amongst the second and third-string players on the roster occurs every year and Baltimore still manages to dominate preseason action. At the very least, it speaks to their depth, preparation, and coaching. It’s better for the coaching staff take preseason too seriously then not seriously enough. It also separates the Ravens from the rest of the league, at least in one category.
2) Jaleel Scott is making this team (or he should, at least)
After another strong outing, I don’t see how the Ravens can keep second-year wideout Jaleel Scott off the 53-man roster. From OTA’s until now, Scott has been one of the team’s most consistent and impressive offensive playmakers. The improvement he’s made from year 1-2 is significant and it shows on the field. Against the Redskins, Scott was targeted often (10 times) and reeled in six receptions for 87 yards. He caught an impressive touchdown pass from Trace McSorley for the second consecutive game, too. Scott finished as the Ravens’ leading receiver this preseason and should be a shoe-in for the last WR spot.
3) McSorley and Dixon remain steady, but uncertainty looms
Rookie quarterback Trace McSorley was the star of last week’s victory over the Eagles, but he predictably fell back down to earth against the Redskins. This isn’t to say he played poorly, however. McSorley completed 15/27 passes for 171 yards and a pinpoint back-shoulder touchdown pass to Jaleel Scott in the second quarter For all his inconsistencies, McSorley has shown more promise as a passer this preseason than most anticipated, while also demonstrating a solid command of the offense. As for Dixon, he got the start at running back and put forth a strong performance in perhaps the most important game of his career thus far (13 carries, 66 yards, 5.1 YPC). Per usual, Dixon ran hard and was decisive with his cuts and footwork.
If I was a betting man, I would say both Dixon and McSorley make the 53-man roster, although the latter probably has the better chance of sticking between the two. The Ravens don’t usually keep three quarterbacks on the roster, but McSorley may be scooped up by another team if Baltimore releases him. He fits the system and given the injury history of Robert Griffin III and playing style of Lamar Jackson, having additional insurance at the position isn’t a bad idea. As for Dixon, he may be the second-most talented RB on the roster, but whether or not he makes the roster again will depend on how much the Ravens prioritize having four players in the backfield.
4) Marquise Brown at punt returner is a bad idea
It was a bit of a surprise to see the Ravens deploy first-round pick Marquise Brown at punt returner against Washington. While his speed and acceleration suggest he’d be a seamless fit at this spot, the experiment proved to be a failed one Thursday night. Brown fumbled twice in the first quarter and looked uncomfortable, as he struggled in deciding whether or not to call for a fair catch. Brown took a shot to the upper body/helmet area but luckily got up unscathed. Still, further risking the chance of “Hollywood” getting injured isn’t ideal, and that’s exactly what putting him at returner does. Needless to say the Ravens will be letting Cyrus Jones and Chris Moore handle the returning responsibilities going forward.
5) Kenny Young and Patrick Ricard are in midseason form
While it was ultimately called back by a penalty, it was only fitting that Kenny Young and Patrick Ricard, maybe the team’s best preseason performers on the defensive side of the ball, combined for a forced fumble and touchdown recovery. Known for his acumen as a fullback, Ricard was a forced to be reckoned with on the defensive line this preseason, especially against the Jaguars and Packers. As for Young, he’s been flying around to the ball and delivering big-time hits, both of which should translate into the regular season.
Young has looked motivated to usurp Chris Board as the team’s starting linebacker opposite Patrick Onwuasor, and he’s on the right track. Ricard faces a steeper climb to playing time on defense behind Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, and Willie Henry, among others. Still, Ricard has showcased legit pass-rushing and run-stopping ability. He could end up playing a bigger role for “Wink” Martindale than originally thought.