The third week of the preseason is undoubtedly the week where the fans and coaches get to see the closest thing to a regular season game given the starters are in the entire half, including a few shifts into the third quarter. It is also the week where we usually see questions arise and answered. For the Baltimore Ravens, questions were answered, but questions remain from a 23-17 victory over the Washington Redskins on Saturday.
The first quarter was nearly dry of offense, each team mustering a field goal and a lot of sloppy offensive play to start the game. If you are a defensive guru, the first fifteen minutes were golden. The Ravens opening possession resulted in a stuffed run on 4th and 1. But that was not the only instance in which the Ravens struggled on the ground. The Redskins defense played the ground game very well, but many of the shortcomings on the ground were a result of bad blocking up front. The offensive line is at the stage of the preseason where each member of the starting group is unquestionably the regular season starter; they cannot afford to play like this anymore. The tackles also were inconsistent in pass protection, mainly on third down.
It is becoming a cliché at this point, but once again the pressure is on Flacco and the Baltimore offense. Flacco looked impressive nonetheless, connecting with Steve Smith and Torrey Smith for intermediate gains and a TD for Smith Sr. to boot. The tight ends contributed well also, but still need to add a spark to the running game.
The only minor issue with the defense is the young secondary. However, it will be interesting to see if Chykie Brown or Asa Jackson will lock up the nickel position in week one against the Cincinnati Bengals. The linebacking unit and defensive line put a halt on the Redskins running game, and again it was the second and third-tier defensive players giving up the majority of the points. CJ Mosley knotted his first INT in the Super Bowl and made several tackles. Along with this was an astounding performance by nose guard, Brandon Williams. Williams is set to take the nose tackle position come time for the regular season with Ngata moved to the defensive end spot (he’s good at any spot on the line).
Questions were answered, most obviously that this will be a very good Baltimore defense, including who the guaranteed starters are. Only one question truly remains unanswered as the regular season draws near: just how good and consistent can this offense be? We will get our answer to that circulating query soon enough.