Well, we’ve had almost a day to absorb what we saw in last night’s final preseason game for the Ravens this season. The dream of going undefeated died, and so did the dreams of several players. A couple guys may have won themselves roster spots, and some may have lost them after their performances last night. Regardless, there’s some things we should take out of the game against the lowly St. Louis Rams, and that’s what I’ll be bringing to you in this post.
First, the positives:
- Demetrius Williams was a playmaker throughout the whole game. He only ended up having two catches for 38 yards, but I remember at least five plays where he was open and Troy Smith made a bad throw. Sure he was going up against third-string cornerbacks, but he was dominant, and going up against dime and nickel guys will be his role this year, so it’s not all that unrealistic.
- Dannell Ellerbe had a nice interception that he returned for a defensive touchdown. I don’t really care about the swagger-filled antics, but I guess John Harbaugh did. He played well last night.
- Jason Phillips had nine tackles, and might’ve won himself a spot on the team. Replacing Ray Lewis, he needed to step up and be a leader for the defense, and he sure acted like one.
- Edgar Jones was explosive last night, putting pressure on the quarterback and making two tackles for loss, with a sack to boot. It’s good to see that he’s made an easy transition back to the defensive side of the ball after the Ravens made him a tight end coming out of college. I’ve met Edgar, and he’s a great guy. For his sake, and the team’s sake, I hope he gets rewarded with a roster spot.
- David Reed led the team in receiving yards and put up 138 yards in the return game. While I wasn’t too impressed with his receiving performance last night, he was big in the return game, and that will be important for the team this season. I think he’s safe.
- Troy Smith looked great running the ball. While you’ll see me address his passing in the negatives section, his scrambling was one of the few good things that he did last night. He scored two rushing touchdowns and led the team in yards, and showed those flashes of versatility that could make him perfect for the Wildcat formation.
Now to the negatives…
- Troy Smith was really bad in the passing game. The former Heisman winner consistently overthrew or underthrew his receivers, threw two bad interceptions and had a completion percentage under 50%. He was outplayed by Keith Null for the Rams, a guy who played quarterback at dinky West Texas A&M. When a guy from West Texas A&M outplays a former Heisman winner, that’s just sad.
- The rush defense was terrible. Qadry Ismail (who I very much like as a color guy) was saying that he’s just not used to hearing things like “7-yard gain” and “another first down on the ground”, telling his viewers that he’s grown accustomed to a stout rushing defense that consistently bottles rushers up for minimal gains. Last night, the defense let up a total of 133 rushing yards to guys who wouldn’t have a chance of making any NFL team other than the Rams as running backs. Sure, it was the second-string defense, but they were going against mostly second-string offensive players for the worst team in the NFL.
- Prince Miller muffed a punt, which almost led to a Rams touchdown. The ball was muffed at the 5-yard line, a place where basic returning knowledge to let the ball bounce has to kick in. While I like him a lot, I think that the practice squad may be in his future, at least for part of this season. Yes, I understand that one play doesn’t determine who gets cut, but that’s a big mistake.
- Jalen Parmele had his preseason woes continue last night. Six carries for seven yards is not what you want to see out of Parmele. He did chase down Chris Chamberlain to end the first half, tackling him after an interception, which saved a touchdown, but his rushing performance was not good. He’s the type of guy that should be getting yards just by having the ball, because he’s strong and gets his legs moving well. I hope he’s had a good training camp and impressed the coaches, because I’m definitely not impressed from what I’ve seen in the preseason games.