I saw absolutely nothing to caw about in the Ravens’ win over the Redskins last night— and even less to praise about the Redskins.
Part of the reason for my lack of enthusiasm for the victory is both teams had half of their starting offenses on the bench or in the locker room getting physical therapy.
Ryan Mallett did little to silence concerns about the Baltimore Ravens‘ backup quarterback situation. He was not good filling in for the injured Joe Flacco. Colt McCoy was even worse filling in for the Redskins starting QB Kirk Cousins, who actually played a few downs.
“We still have a lot to work on, but it is training camp and the preseason,” Mallett said. “The further we go along, the better we will get. … There are a few plays that I would like to have back.”
A few plays?
Mallett was actually underthrowing wide open receivers— and his receivers were often horribly out of position on their routes. What a mess!
QB depth chart: Filling in for injured Joe Flacco (back), Mallett struggled with a short-handed Ravens offense. He completed 9 of 18 passes for 58 yards in the first half (a 57.2 passer rating), with many of his throws being overthrown or underthrown. It was a tough situation for Mallett. He was under plenty of pressure because three projected starting offensive linemen were out, and his receivers were a seventh-round pick (Michael Campanaro) and two undrafted rookies (Tim White and Quincy Adeboyejo). But Mallett had trouble hitting his open receivers downfield. Nearly half of his completions (four of them) went to running backs.
There is some good news to report about this incredibly inept game:
When it was starters vs. starters, the Ravens looked dominant on defense: Baltimore got strong early returns on its investment on defense, pushing around the Redskins up front. The Ravens forced Kirk Cousins into three-and-outs on only two drives of the night, holding the Redskins to minus-1 yard on six plays. For the starting offense, Terrance West scored on a leaping 2-yard touchdown that finished off a drive helped by two Redskins penalties (both of which led to first downs).
The Ravens were only mildly adequate because the Redskins were worse—far worse. Washington looked like a train wreck.
Rookie watch: Undrafted Ravens rookie cornerback Jaylen Hill showed why he’s caught the attention of the coaching staff. He picked off Colt McCoy in the second quarter after running stride for stride with rookie receiver Robert Davis. Another undrafted rookie, defensive lineman Patrick Ricard, showed great hustle by chasing down running back Matt Jones 17 yards downfield to make the tackle. Both Hill and Ricard are making a strong push to make this team.
Strong first impression as starter: My Canadian brother Brent Urban isn’t looking like a first-year starter at defensive end for the Ravens. The 2014 fourth-round pick was quick off the ball, totaling four tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. That all came in just over one quarter of play. Urban is the favorite to take over for Lawrence Guy, who signed with the New England Patriots in free agency.
Tucker hits 59-yard field goal: Justin Tucker alleviated any concerns with a long-range 59-yard field goal to end the first half—it would have been good from 69! (remember, 64 yards is the longest in NFL history). It’s not been a perfect summer for the All-Pro kicker, who missed a handful of kicks in training camp and hit the upright on a 43-yard attempt in the opener (it was negated by a penalty).
Reynolds makes much-needed big play: The Navy’s Keenan Reynolds produced the biggest play of his Ravens career, returning a punt 46 yards in the third quarter. The former Navy quarterback showed his speed and elusiveness by running it back up the middle of the field. This is the type of play that can get Reynolds back into the conversation at returner. Undrafted rookie Tim White was the primary punt returner for the game.
Six projected starters didn’t play: The Ravens sat out Flacco (back), their top three wide receivers in Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman (hamstring), as well as three projected starters on the offensive line in Marshal Yanda (offseason shoulder injury), Alex Lewis (undisclosed) and Austin Howard(not cleared by trainers). Baltimore was also without running back Danny Woodhead, tight end Ben Watson and cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
What possible conclusion can you draw from the results of this PS1 game when all those guys are out at the same time? This win over an equally absent Redskins team means nothing.
This was a much-needed move for Baltimore, which ranked second in least amount of cap room after signing offensive tackle Austin Howard last week to a three-year, $15 million deal. Smith’s $12.6 million cap number — which is now lowered to $7.45 million — had been the second highest on the Ravens behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
The Ravens doubled their cap space with this restructured deal and now have a little more than $10 million in cap room, according to the ESPN Roster Management System. This can allow Baltimore to make one or two additional moves.
And man, based upon what I saw Thursday night, they’re gonna need every dollar of that additional cap space.