The Baltimore Ravens won their first preseason match-up of the 2019 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 29-0. Now, keep in mind that the Jaguars sat 32 players for this contest and rightfully so. John Harbaugh sat a tremendous amount of players as well, but he did trot out his starting Quarterback for a few series and he did what he was “coached.” The defense was given a mixed bag of starters and second-string players, fighting for either a first-team bid or a roster spot on this team and didn’t allow the Jaguars to cross the 50-yard line. I don’t care what level you are playing on or how many starters are sitting, that is down right impressive and something to be proud of.
Kaare Vedvik was the star of the night, going 4-4 on field goals from 26 to 55 yards. He also showed versatility, notching two punts averaging 55.5 yards. Everyone performed adequately but here are some takeaways to think about.
Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams Show Up
Each notching a half of a sack, they showed drive and were consistently around the ball during their time on the field. They were able to set the edge and shedding blockers to get to the ball carrier. They may not have been the first one to the ball but they were consistently involved and swarmed while they were in the game.
Lamar Jackson/ Chris Moore
Everyone has been waiting to see how Lamar has improved during the off-season and tonight it was on full display. If you can believe this, Lamar was in the game for a couple of series and never ran the ball. He looked to make competitive throws to his wide receivers and was successful. His stat line goes 4/6 for 59 yards and a touchdown. This combines for a 66.7% completion percentage and a 138.2 Quarterback rating. Jackson looks like he refined his mechanics and clearly worked with his wide receivers during his time away from One Winning Drive. Moore joined Lamar during his private sessions this off-season and the chemistry showed through. Moore had two catches for 48 yards, but you could see the connection between him and his quarterback. They were on the same page on Moore’s second catch as the pass looked to be intended for a crossing tight end only to sail over his head and hit Chris with a ball that only he could catch along the sideline. Moore will hopefully break out of his wide receiver shell and hit the ground running.
All Around Defensive Performance
The defense impressed in all statistical categories last night but looking at the how the defense was constantly around the ball, was special. Cyrus Jones and Bennett Jackson each notched second-half interceptions, with Jones returning for his for a touchdown. Defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s defense allowed a whopping 133 total yards in 60 minutes of NFL football; that is something to feel accomplished about at any level. Anthony Averett was called for a few pass interference calls, but he is someone who certainly would compete for a starting job on just about any other defense in the NFL. Averett is fifth cornerback on the depth chart behind Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young and Brandon Carr. This goes to show how deep the secondary in Baltimore truly is. The defensive line has extraordinary depth this year and the staff is going to have a lot of difficult decisions to make. Zach Seiler (95) was a number that stood out, consistently controlling the line of scrimmage and pushing back into the pocket of the quarterback. The Jaguars weren’t able to move the ball whatsoever, but especially in running situations. The Ravens front seven dictated where the Jags were going to go with the ball every down. Kenny Young was another standout performer who had an absolute vicious hit on Jaguars Quarterback Gardner Mishew. That might go down as one of the biggest hits in preseason history. But Young has such a knack for where the ball is at all times and he drives with full force to get to the ball carrier. This will put another bug in Harbaugh’s ear about is plans for the inside linebackers. One person that didn’t jump off the screen was Chris Board. Inside linebacker isn’t a flashy position by any means but I didn’t see anything that said he should gain more snaps than Kenny Young. He looks very cautious on his approach to a play, maybe because it’s the preseason and he doesn’t want to risk an injury. Now is your time to shine.
With that being said, this defense looks all-around exciting and you will see a lot of these players that are cut play for other teams and may eventually earn starting jobs. It’s good to see a young defense with tough decisions looming.
Miles Boykin seemed to be a hot topic last night, being targeted nine times and playing nearly three full quarters. Boykin definitely looks good when the ball is thrown to him, he works back to the ball, uses his large frame to create space and has strong hands but we did witness some drops. These are not Breshad Perriman excuses by any means, but each pass that was dropped was contested or he wasn’t on the same page with Trace McSorley. On a play mid-way through the third quarter, McSorley hit Boykin in the back of the endzone on a beautiful catch and throw that was called back from a holding call on Greg Senat. Boykin was able to get behind the cornerback and Trace put it on him. Even though the holding call negated the touchdown, those are the type of things that coaches look at and get excited about. Obviously they aren’t excited about Senat holding on a play that would have gotten them six points, but the tape will help Boykin and McSorley moving forward. Remember, this was Boykin’s first NFL game; we will see improvements in the coming months.
Kenneth Dixon/ Justice Hill/ DeLance Turner
Kenneth Dixon didn’t get a ton of work in this game but he looks a lot thinner and quicker than he has in previous years. He looks as if he’s back to his rookie form, shedding tackles and making quick cuts. Justice Hill got quite a bit of work last night rushing the ball 10 times for 33 yards (3.3 ypc), which isn’t stellar by any means, but he looks down right fast. Wearing number 43 reminds me of Darren Sproles in his prime. There were several times where he was one block or even one broken tackle away from a major gain. This guy is going to be a player to watch moving forward. DeLance Turner seemed to be the most productive of the night with 6 rushes for 29 yards (4.8 ypc). He seems to be a down hill runner like Gus Edwards, but a stiffer version and with more special teams versatility. Look for Turner to be someone who the Ravens will look to stash on their practice squad in case of an injury.
My Baltimore Beatdown Bold Prediction was that Kaare Vedvik would have a big night hitting multiple kicks over 40 yards and that he makes a strong case for other teams to invest a draft pick instead of a wait-and-see waivers approach. Vedvik had an absolutely perfect night kicking the ball, whether it was hitting field goals (26, 29, 45 & 55) or punting the ball (52 & 58) for an average of 55.5 yards. Look for teams to start keeping a close eye on someone who is showing they can be an accurate kicker in this league.