Preseason wins mean nothing. The ability the team displays when their stating lineup is on the field for a short time is what really matters, and Joe Flacco failing to find consistency in his passing seems to be quite concerning, despite remaining unbeaten in the exhibition section of the year.
The Baltimore Ravens beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-23, but were down 23-7 when they entered the fourth quarter. Flacco finished with 7-of-9 for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but aside from his 77-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith, who looks quite prepared to become the team’s number one option in the passing game, there wasn’t a lot to be impressed with from the Super Bowl MVP.
The Ravens’ running game failed to take off, as Ray Rice was limited to only 8 carries and 10 yards. They also couldn’t stop the run at all, as Steven Jackson carved through their defense with 42 yards on 8 carries. In all, the Ravens allowed 170 yards on 40 runs.
Their passing coverage wasn’t perfect either, with Jimmy Smith struggling to show he deserves a starting spot in the secondary. He had the misfortune of covering Julio Jones, allowing the wide receiver three receptions including and 8-yard pass for a touchdown, with Smith looking like he was expecting some help from a safety. The Ravens weren’t with their strongest possible lineup, including missing Lardarius Webb, but this team was expected to have a stronger run-defense than in the past, and failed to show impressive strength in both stopping the pass and the run.
Their offensive line issues also are concerning. A.Q. Shipley, getting the start at center, was the king of the Ravens’ penalized players, as in general they gave up 68 yards on 7 penalties. Shipley was once called for a personal foul that cost the Ravens 15 yards, and also for one false start which has been an issue with some of the Raven’s offensive linemen, past & present.
The Ravens seem to have a very strong chance to excel in special teams with Asa Jackson returning a punt return for 78 yards, and David Reed did a good job in kickoff returns, averaging 31.3 yards on three returns. The Ravens were probably looking for more across the field, but if you have to be pleased about something, it was their ability in the return game.
Super Bowl champions don’t always look perfect at this stage of the season, especially after losing so many key players over the offseason. And yet with Flacco propelling himself to the elite, according to himself and everyone who witnessed his performances in last year’s playoffs, this should be a bit easier of a transition with some new faces in his offense. The Ravens are in a division where they can’t afford mediocrity, or looking this bad with their best players.
For those who predicted the Ravens to have a huge falloff after peaking last season, everything we’ve seen from them on both ends of the field so far in the preseason seems like a bad omen, making them look as bad as they possibly can, with too many problems happening at once, not giving them the ability to focus on just one little fix at a time.