Let me be the first to say when it comes to preseason I try to live by the motto of never getting too high or too low with the performances we see on the field. Often, in the preseason, teams are working on different objectives, situations if you will, that are hard to achieve in training camp practices.
It’s as if the preseason is the NFL’s answer to The Grand Illusion.
Granted, it was hard to watch Andrew Luck complete all eight passes in his eight attempts last Saturday and it was even harder watching the first team defense surrender 104 total yards of offense to Indy’s first team.
Is it a precursor of what’s in store for 2016?
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees doesn’t think so. In fact he laid out a long list of what he expects to see on Saturday night in their match up with the Detroit Lions while recapping his defensive units performance against the Colts.
“First of all, I’d like to see us get off to a faster start,” said Pees following Wednesday’s practice. “The first two preseason games we’ve done a good job of holding someone to a field goal on drives, but I’d really rather not see a 10-or-11-play drive to start the game.”
The Ravens gave up 14-plays, 67-yards to Carolina on their opening drive and 11-plays, 61 yards to Indianapolis on their opening drive. Both drives resulted in field goals for their opponents.
“The biggest thing coming out of last game was really three areas: No. 1 was penalties. We aren’t going to survive having that many penalties. We kind of played through it and made some plays, but we can’t have that many penalties – basically the offside.”
The Ravens had 11 total penalties for 91 yards.
“No. 2 is that we had too many missed assignments, in the running game especially. It wasn’t in the passing … Well, the passing game is a different thing. In the running game, we got a third down-and-1, and we had two guys misaligned, and they run for seven yards. It didn’t have anything to do about being physical or anything else. We had no chance. That’s the second thing.”
The Ravens surrendered just 93 total rushing yards in their week two preseason game.
“We have to make sure we don’t have any mental mistakes.
“Third was our pass-rush lanes were horrible in that game. When we weren’t pressuring … We didn’t pressure very much. We didn’t try to pressure [Andrew] Luck. I wanted to see if we could just rush with some of the guys we had in there. We didn’t go into that game thinking we were going to pressure very much.”
Of all Pees’ quotes this one is the most calming to me.
Vanilla schemes are a dime a dozen this time of year and rarely will teams show anything that can be used against them in the regular season. If this was week one or two I’d be highly concerned considering Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil would also be on the field.
“We have to do better, in a four-man rush, of not letting the quarterback out,” Pees concluded. “I think of 90 of their rushing yards, over 30 of it was by the quarterback. The week before, there was a quarterback run. We have to fix the problems that we’ve seen in the first two weeks. That’s what we need to see.”
There is still plenty of time to fix the issues that stick in Pees’ craw. In fact it’s safe to say that they are on that path at this very moment. After last year’s dismal season, Pees may no longer deserve a pardon by his critics. It’s easy to sit there during the opening series we’ve seen and mumble, “here we go again.”
Let’s remember as we watch game 3 of the preseason that those conflicting game objectives can skew the results on the field.
And then remember not to get too high or too low with the results.
What you see in the preseason isn’t always what you get when the regular season comes calling.
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