Thursday, August 23, 2012
Observation deck: Jaguars-Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been showing more command of the offense this preseason. In the 48-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Flacco looked to be in total control.
Orchestrating the team's new no-huddle attack, Flacco completed 27 of 36 passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. These numbers are even more impressive considering he didn't play three full quarters.
Flacco continually looked downfield, completing five passes of more than 15 yards. He also connected with nine different receivers.
This isn't to say Flacco was perfect. He could have been picked off on the team's first trip in the red zone, where he forced a pass in between two defenders to get to Anquan Boldin. Flacco also misfired on two deep passes, putting too much air to an open Torrey Smith and not putting any air to Jacoby Jones.
But Flacco came up big in the critical situations. He hit Boldin on third-and-goal for a 5-yard touchdown and sidestepped a pass-rusher to find Vonta Leach for an 8-yard touchdown.
Here are other observations from the Ravens' third preseason game:
- In a move that will cause many to jump to conclusions, the Ravens allowed undrafted rookie Justin Tucker to handle all the kicking duties and gave Billy Cundiff the night off. Tucker took advantage by hitting a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter.
- Ravens cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (team-leading six tackles) and Jimmy Smith played much more physical than the first two preseason games. That's not a surprise since this game was against quarterback Blaine Gabbert and not Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford. Smith was too aggressive at times and got flagged for pass interference in the third quarter. It was not a particularly good night for cornerback Cary Williams, who got beat on a 27-yard pass to rookie Justin Blackmon.
- A big focus for Baltimore this offseason has been improving special teams after allowing three touchdowns off returns last season. The Ravens, though, have a lot of work to do in that area. Former Ravens running back Jalen Parmele returned the first two kickoffs of the second half for 42 and 47 yards.
- Wide receiver Torrey Smith is showing no lingering effects from an ankle injury that sidelined him last game. He caught eight passes for 103 yards, continuing what has been an impressive summer for the 2011 second-round pick.
- Bryant McKinnie made his first start at left tackle, but Baltimore didn't really have a choice. With Marshal Yanda being held out with an leg injury (not considered serious), the Ravens moved Bobbie Williams from left to right guard and put Kelechi Osemele from right tackle to left guard. That shifted Michael Oher from left to right tackle. Hope you got all of that because there will be a quiz later.
- Undrafted rookie running back Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky) should have secured a spot as the team's third running back. He caught three passes for 73 yards and showed great burst on a 48-yard touchdown. Backup running back Bernard Pierce had a productive night with 10 carries for 35 yards, which included a 20-yard run. He wowed the home crowd by hurdling a defender.
- Albert McClellan started at outside linebacker for the third straight preseason game, but rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw saw a lot of time with the starters. The Ravens obviously wanted to get an extended look at Upshaw, who recorded his first sack in the second half.
- The Ravens put together five touchdown drives of at least 80 yards against Jacksonville. The 48 points are the most the Ravens have ever scored in a preseason.