Observation Deck: Baltimore Ravens


BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens opened the preseason with a near-perfect first drive under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, and that's all they needed in a dominant 23-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium.

Kubiak couldn't have scripted a better opening drive as the Ravens marched 80 yards on 10 plays. In his West Coast offense debut, Joe Flacco was sharp on the intermediate routes, hitting four of five passes for 52 yards.

Flacco's best throw was a 17-yard completion to fullback Kyle Juszczyk down the seam. Flacco spread the ball around, hitting four different receivers. That set up Bernard Pierce's 2-yard touchdown, which ended Flacco's only drive of the night.

"I am comfortable," Flacco said. "There are some little things that we will have to continue to work on, but, overall, I think we feel very comfortable and can operate at a high level."

Here are some other thoughts on the Ravens' first preseason game of the season:

  • Asa Jackson should have the edge over Chykie Brown in the battle for the No. 3 cornerback spot. Jackson made a leaping interception of Blaine Gabbert, which came two plays after the Ravens fumbled. He also drew an offensive pass interference from wide receiver Quinton Patton. Meanwhile, Brown was flagged for two penalties on the first two passes thrown in his direction. It can be debated whether they were actually penalties, but Brown has to learn how to play the ball.

  • Running backs should expect to do a lot of ball-security drills. Pierce and Justin Forsett both fumbled in the first half. While Pierce recovered his, Forsett lost his to the 49ers. Pierce shared snaps with Ray Rice with the first-team offense. Rice got off to a good start with 17 rushing yards on three carries. The standout back for the Ravens was rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, who ran hard between the tackles for a team-high 71 yards in the second half. The Ravens totaled 237 yards rushing.

  • The biggest concern from what was a more-than-solid performance for the Ravens was the run defense. The starting defense struggled to set the edges. Cornerbacks failed to get off blocks, and linebacker Terrell Suggs got caught pursuing too far inside. The Ravens did make a stand when it counted. Nose tackle Brandon Williams made a tackle 1 yard behind the line on third-and-1 at the Ravens' 6-yard line.

  • Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor had an uneven game, which has characterized his limited playing time throughout his career. There is no question he can make plays with his legs. He ran for 49 yards rushing on five scrambles, but Taylor remains unproven in the pocket. He forced a pass that was picked off, and he finished with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Butler. Taylor was 13-of-21 (61 percent) for 116 yards passing.

  • Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley ended the first half with a sack. The way he blitzes up the middle, the rookie first-round pick could end up with four or five sacks this season.