Five thoughts on the Ravens' 40-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field:
Up-Tempo Eagles Too Much For Defense
The Ravens' starting defense had an especially rough night. It simply wasn't up to the challenge of stopping Philadelphia Head Coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense early in the game. The Eagles drove 84 yards to a touchdown on their first-ever possession with new quarterback Sam Bradford, who sat out last week's preseason opener. Bradford took a brutal hit from the Ravens' Brandon Williams along the way, and the Eagles got him out of there. Mark Sanchez took over and quickly produced another touchdown on his first series. The Ravens fell behind 17-0 seemingly before they knew what hit them, trailing receivers and looking a step slow on many plays, and compounding their problems by drawing a slew of penalties, including a pair of personal fouls. Although Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees doesn't game-plan for preseason games, he won't be happy with what he sees on film.
Flacco, Banged-Up Offense Not Sharp
The Ravens offense wasn't any better on what was pretty much an all-around disastrous night, if you can have those in the preseason. Early on, starting quarterback Joe Flacco wasn't sharp. The first of his two interceptions wasn't his fault, resulting from a catchable deep ball that was tipped to a defender. But he overthrew an open Marlon Brown on a crossing route for his second interception, which led to a Philadelphia touchdown, and he later also overthrew tight end Maxx Williams, who was wide open. The Ravens got Flacco out of there after that, and I thought that was wise. Flacco loves to hang in there and bounce back, but this was not the night for that. The Ravens had started the game with their offensive line already thin due to injuries, and when two more linemen went out early, De'Ondre Wesley because of an injury and James Hurst with a concussion, the line was makeshift at best. Backup Matt Schaub took over and fared no better, also failing to put points on the board before giving way to Bryn Renner, who finally led three scoring drives for the Ravens in the fourth quarter.
Injury Issues Popping Up All Over The Place
If you're going to contract an injury bug, it's better to do so in August rather than when games count. But the Ravens' August injury bug is becoming quite a doozy. There are issues all over the place. Top draft pick Breshad Perriman is still sidelined, and another wide receiver, Michael Campanaro, who was making strides, sat out the game, presumably because of a balky hamstring. Lardarius Webb also missed the game, his second in a row, because of a sore hamstring. (Webb's replacement, Rashaan Melvin, was one of the few Ravens who seemingly had a solid night.) But the unit that is the most shredded right now is the offensive line. By the middle of the second quarter, here were the five on the field: Ryan Jensen, Marcel Jones, Leon Brown, Robert Myers and Nick Easton. Needless to say, the Ravens need to get their best blockers healthy and back on the field in the next three weeks before they start playing games that count.
Waller's Chances Of Making Team Rising
Rookie wide receiver Darren Waller had a strong week of practices in Philadelphia and capped it off by catching a touchdown pass from Renner Saturday night. I'm thinking Waller's chances of making the team are going up. From the outset, he has looked like a steal as a sixth-round draft pick, a player whose size, speed and hands could make him an interesting target. He's shown enough that if the Ravens try to slip him through waivers and put him on their practice squad, they're probably going to lose him. The alternative is, well, keep him. Other than Waller, the receivers had a quiet night as the Ravens still try to sort out who will be their No. 2 wideout opposite Steve Smith, Sr. Brown caught one pass Saturday night, as did Kamar Aiken. Jeremy Butler was targeted five times and made two receptions for 14 yards. Perriman and Campanaro didn't play.
Short TakesAs noted, the offense and defense had rough nights, and as if to complete the trifecta, the punt coverage team allowed a 68-yard touchdown return in the second quarter ... Third-year linebacker Arthur Brown contributed one of his more noticeable plays as a Raven, a sack of Philly quarterback Matt Barkley in the third quarter … Oddly enough, with all the offensive line woes in a game that quickly got out of hand, the Ravens ran the ball pretty well … Asa Jackson handled his punt and kickoff return duties without incident, unlike rookie DeAndre Carter, who muffed a kickoff return … If you hung around and watched the final minutes of the game, you saw Justin Tucker convert a* *48-yard extra point try.