In Just One Night, Josh Woodrum Became Most Popular Guy in Baltimore
You better get your tickets now. The Josh Woodrum bandwagon is filling up quickly.
When the Ravens signed the undrafted quarterback, marking his fifth team in a little over a year, Woodrum was billed as a "camp arm." When he threw for a touchdown and posted a perfect passer rating last week, the reaction was, "Wait, what's that guy's name again?"
After leading the offense to three scoring drives in the Ravens' 31-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins, including two rushing touchdowns of his own, an awesome monster spike, an incredibly endearing and likeable post-game press conference (Ryan Mink will get more into his backstory later today), Woodrum easily became the most popular guy in Baltimore.
Woodrum finished 8-of-10 passing for 110 yards and a 112.5 quarterback rating. Meanwhile, Ryan Mallett continued his inconsistent play, completing 13-of-22 passes for 113 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a 50.0 quarterback rating.
As such, the calls for Woodrum to take the primary backup spot over Mallett started pouring in faster than Breshad Perriman can run the 40.
Then things just got crazy …
OK, ok. Those tweets were more poking fun at how quickly the rest of Twitter was ready to jump aboard the Woodrum train.
But there were more serious suggestions for Woodrum to get the chance to play with the starters next week in order to get a fair evaluation between he and Mallett. The argument is the Ravens already know what they have in Mallett, but they don't yet know what Woodrum is capable of when running the first-team offense.
"I won't immediately call for a player to be fired, or lose his job. But after multiple weeks of camp and two sub-par preseason games, Josh Woodrum has earned the start in the next preseason game," added Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle P. Barber. "Giving both snaps with the 1's makes sense. No more judging them based on different strings of defense with different offensive players. Settle this with fair scales. Both playing against starting defenses with their starting offense."
But as sharp, poised and likeable as Woodrum has been, don't hold your breath for a quarterback controversy inside the Ravens facility. The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker plainly says "that's not happening." His colleague, Jeff Zrebiec, reminded fans that every year there is a preseason star, including Josh Johnson last year and Bryn Renner the year before that.
"But if there's anything I like about watching exhibition football (and there isn't much), it's the mini-sensations who emerge in junk time," wrote Walker. "Woodrum was cut before he ever got to play in the preseason last summer. But he's giving it another go, and there he was Thursday night, running for touchdowns and connecting with tight end Maxx Williams on a 40-yard pass.
"Maybe a few quarters worth of well-timed scampers and accurate passes will earn Woodrum a spot on the Baltimore practice squad or with a different organization. We see it happen for a few guys every year, and that justifies the existence of these games."
Mallett Not as Bad as Stats Indicate, But Didn't Consistently Move the Offense
Just like last week, Mallett had an up-and-down performance, but probably nothing to sound the alarms.
It's hard to put the blame for the two interceptions on Mallett.
As former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick noted during the game broadcast, receiver Quincy Adeboyejo allowed a Dolphins defender to get inside position on the deep pass and should've at least been able to bat the ball down. Then, the undrafted rookie allowed cornerback Cordrea Tankersley to rip the ball out of his hands when it looked like Mallett had converted a completion.
And Mallett did have some impressive plays, including when he used his feet to avoid an oncoming blitzer and find tight end Benjamin Watson, and then hit receiver Mike Wallace on the run while rolling out to his right.
"So all in all, Mallett wasn't as bad as his 50 passer rating might indicate," wrote Walker.
That said, Mallett didn't inspire confidence.
"The Baltimore Ravens better hope Joe Flacco will be ready for the start of the regular season because Ryan Mallett struggled with his consistency once again," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Mallett still doesn't look like a quarterback who can consistently move the ball against a starting NFL defense."
Concern grew when Head Coach John Harbaugh announced last night that quarterback Joe Flacco will not return to practice within the week. That means, at best, Flacco will have two weeks to prepare for the season-opener against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals.
Harbaugh also praised Mallett for avoiding pressure, which was considerable given how banged up the offensive line is, to make throws. Harbaugh said he played "good, solid football."
Zrebiec pointed out that while the Ravens have stood by Mallett as Flacco works through his back injury, the Dolphins took a different approach when Ryan Tannehill went down with a knee injury. They quickly went out and signed veteran Jay Cutler, who had already taken a broadcast job. But it's also worth noting that Tannehill's injury is season ending, while Flacco is not expected to miss any regular-season games.
"They've stuck with Ryan Mallett, a move the veteran backup continues to leave open for second-guessing because of his underwhelming play," wrote Zrebiec.* *
Maxx Williams Notches 'Play of the Game'
Welcome back, Mad Maxx.
Tight end Maxx Williams, the Ravens' 2015 second-round pick, notched what Pro Football Focus called the "play of the game" with a 40-yard catch-and-run in which he broke a few tackles. It was a good sign for Williams as he continues to work back from a rare and significant knee surgery.
"Williams has yet to live up to his second-round draft status, but fully healthy he looked the part against the Dolphins," wrote PFF's analysis team. "He also handled himself well as a run blocker."
Below are PFF's five highest-graded Ravens from Thursday night:
DT Michael Pierce, 87.0
S Anthony Levine, 82.7
TE Maxx Williams, 81.7
S Otha Foster, 80.3
DT Carl Davis, 79.8
Just When You Think Justin Tucker Can't Get Any Better …
Justin Tucker is already the G.O.A.T.
But then in a span of six plays, he showed that it gets even better. In those six plays, Tucker kicked a 52-yard field goal, recovered a fumble on his own kickoff and then nailed a 27-yard field goal.
He was feeling so good that he even tried to convince Special Teams Coach Jerry Rosburg to allow him to attempt a 70-yarder.
"Just when you don't think the first-team All-Pro kicker can do anymore, he comes up with another play that reminds you why he was the Ravens' MVP last season," wrote Hensley.
Undrafted Rookies Continue Strong Performances
Cornerback Jaylen Hill was the undrafted rookie superstar last week against the Washington Redskins, and he held onto that honor again last night.
Here's a nice little summary of his contributions:
Undrafted defensive lineman Patrick Ricard also stood out. But not on defense. It came on offense, where coaches experimented with him at fullback.
"How confident are the Ravens in their current fullbacks?" wrote Hensley. "Baltimore used defensive lineman Patrick Ricard as a lead blocker in the first half. The undrafted rookie out of Maine was already making a push for the roster for his aggressive play on the defensive line. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Ricky Ortiz haven't stood out at fullback."
- "Ravens' Chris Matthews, who is fighting for a roster spot, takes advantage of not being blocked and blocks the Dolphins' punt," wrote Hensley. "Matthews needs to start making plays because he's had quite a few drops as a receiver this summer." [ESPN]
- "Quiet debut for first-rounder: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey didn't make a tackle or break up a pass in limited action," Hensley added. "The No. 16 overall pick didn't play in Thursday's second half." [ESPN]
- "On a positive note, [Ryan] Jensen appears to be a viable starter at center," wrote Childs Walker. "It's always hard to grade blockers without studying the game film, but whenever I zeroed in on Jensen, he came off the snap with a decisive burst. And he hasn't struggled getting the ball cleanly into Mallett's hands. Such competence is reassuring from a player who's started just nine career games, none of them at center." [The Baltimore Sun]