Baltimore Finished (4-0) For The 6th Time
The Ravens defeated the Saints at The Superdome in New Orleans by the score of 23-14 on Thursday night to conclude their 2016 preseason schedule. It marks the sixth time in team history that Baltimore finished their summer schedule undefeated.
But don’t get too excited!
Twice after a perfect slate of fake games the Ravens failed to make the playoffs (’98 & ’99); twice they were knocked out in the divisional round (2009, 2014); and in 2000 they won Super Bowl XXXV. In other words, preseason success doesn’t guarantee regular season riches. It is hardly an accurate barometer.
In May of 2013 research showed that during the previous ten seasons only 42% of the teams that finished the preseason undefeated, went on to have winning records in the regular season. From 2013 to 2015 five teams finished the preseason undefeated, two of which had losing records. One however, did win the Super Bowl – the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.
Overall eight of the 50 Super Bowl winners (16%) had unblemished preseason records.
Draw your own conclusions.
More importantly, the Ravens had a good look at players who can help build their roster from the bottom up. Some roster decisions were more than likely already made before the team stepped on the Superdome turf. Two seasons ago on that same turf, former Ravens LB John Simon had a terrific game to conclude the preseason. It didn’t matter — he was sent packing. And this was a player the Ravens scouts loved. It appears that his fate was already sealed before that game.
The same may be true of several of the 75 players currently on the roster who hope to be among the final 53. Let’s take a look at some who affected their respective causes, positively or negatively.
Ryan Mallett did nothing to lose his spot in the Ravens quarterback pecking order going 8 for 12 for 65 yards. That said, Josh Johnson should get the nod, but he won’t. Johnson sees the field better, has a quicker release and he’s clearly more elusive. He finished 18 of 24 for 181 yards but he was sacked 3 times and two of those sacks were on him for holding the ball too long. Johnson will find a home with another team. It would be a shocker if the Ravens choose to carry three quarterbacks…Breshad Perriman demonstrated an ability to fight off press coverage and given his speed that’s something he’ll see a lot of. He made a nice catch on a poorly thrown ball from Mallett for a gain of 16 and he also was effective as a willing blocker in the running game…Chris Matthews had 5 catches for 64 yards and presented himself well on a toe tapping catch for a first down. It’s a little too late for Matthews. He’ll be forced to find a home elsewhere due to the superb preseason of Jeremy Butler (16 catches, 148 yards, 2TD’s) who should make the final 53…Chris Moore deserves the kick return duties by default, unless the Ravens pick a KR up off waivers. Moore had a nice return for 29 yards.
Willie Henry had a nice outing and as a fourth-round pick, he’ll stick around. He’s had at least as good of a preseason as Kapron Lewis-Moore and his ceiling is much higher. KLM wasn’t bad, he’s just not good enough to stave off a rookie with upside. Brandon Williams’ free agency looms so the Ravens need a contingency plan if retaining Williams becomes too expensive…Victor Ochi has explosiveness that you can’t teach. He made a terrific play to take down Saints receiver TommyLee Lewis on a reverse for a 3-yard gain and then had a third quarter sack of Garrett Grayson forcing a fumble. If the Ravens want to keep Ochi, he’ll need to be among the final 53 because he’ll never pass through waivers and on to the practice squad. They’ll eventually regret it if they try…Patrick Onwuasor packs a powerful punch in his undersized frame (6’0”, 217) and has potential as a key special teams player. He’s a strong consideration for the practice squad.
Terrence Brooks saw plenty of action and he could be another of the safeties that the Ravens use as a linebacker at times, much like they’ve used Anthony Levine who is ahead of Brooks on the depth chart. Brooks still struggles to cover in space but in tighter quarters he has been fairly effective…Julian Wilson had a productive evening and while he won’t make the 53, he, like Onwuasor, could be an attractive addition to the practice squad…The Ravens cleaned up their act as it relates to yellow laundry, limiting penalties to 4 for 25 yards…Ravens were (+1) in turnovers.
Buck Allen had just 43 yards on 21 carries during the preseason. In New Orleans UDFA Stephen Houston took the field before Allen did. Allen isn’t a special teams contributor so it’s possible that he could be a surprise cut. His play has been largely uninspired…Keenan Reynolds has seen little action. The Ravens may have limited his time on the field this preseason in order to move him to the practice squad. He won’t be among the final 53…Michael Campanaro fumbled a kickoff and while he’s shifty, he doesn’t have that straight line explosiveness you want in a kick returner. Fumbling is hardly the way to impress a coaching staff that is hell-bent on flipping the team’s abysmal turnover ratio from a season ago (-14)…
Carl Davis played sparingly after suffering an injury that John Harbaugh later said would not be a “season-ender”. You have to wonder where he stands with the coaching staff. He’s been a big disappointment after a productive preseason in 2015. He is a third-round pick so it’s doubtful that he loses his spot on the roster unless the Ravens place him on IR…Arthur Brown can make plays when he’s clean and can run to the ball unabated, but he struggles to shed blocks. That aspect of his game reared its ugly head a few times last night. The only thing that could save Brown is the team’s uncommonly thin depth at ILB. But it’s quite possible that a run stuffer will fall off another team’s roster that is more attractive than the Ravens’ 2013 second round pick.
The Ravens kicking teams have been rather pathetic. The coverage team yielded 26.5 yards per return on kicks intended to fall short of the end zone. The return teams were equally ineffective save Chris Moore’s 29-yard effort. They were penalized twice during returns. Jerry Rosburg has some work to do.
The Megan Fox Award
The Ravens have a knack for finding a diamond in the rough via undrafted free agents. This season they have two who should make the squad. One we’ve discussed – Victor Ochi. The other is Michael Pierce. It isn’t often that a rookie DT can fight through a block, sack the QB, force a fumble, recover the fumble and score a touchdown. That’s a football superfecta! Michael Pierce, welcome to Baltimore!