By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens played a preseason game against the Saints on Saturday night. This exhibition contest tells a story about the roster. Here are the things we learned during the Ravens battle during the Saints: These are the subtle lessons that when you put them all together they make the big picture.
1. There’s a very good reason Lamar Jackson didn’t play
The Baltimore Ravens made the wise decision to sit Lamar Jackson for the first preseason game. It really had nothing to do with the missed practices due to his Covid-19 quarantine. If you knew the offensive line was going to be a mess, would you have played Jackson?
If you were John Harbaugh, and you knew all of the things that were going on with the offensive line, how could you justify having Jackson out on that field? Exactly. The franchise quarterback and the most important player has no business on the field until the games count and the offensive line figures its stuff out.
Marquise Brown didn’t play in the game. Neither did Mark Andrews. Having Trace McSorley throwing the ball to Jaylon Moore and Josh Oliver is okay. For Jackson, what would be the point? Not only would it be unsafe for Jackson to play behind a disjointed offensive line, but it also wouldn’t give Jackson a true feeling of playing with the number 1’s.
The Ravens have some work to do on the offensive side of the football. They have to get their starting five offensive linemen figured out and have them start to gel together. They have to get a little healthier not just on the offensive line but at wide receiver as well. If you’re not going to truly see the number one offense this preseason, which is a real possibility, why should the Ravens play Jackson in the meaningless games?
2. There has been an injection of youth and speed to the Baltimore Ravens defense:
When you look at the young players that have come to Baltimore in the past two offseasons you see something. Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Justin Madubuike, Geno Stone, Odafe Oweh, Daelin Hayes, Brandon Stephens, and Ar’Darius Washington all have something in common. For their respective positions, they are all either superb athletes or they are so instinctual and aggressive that they play faster than their 40-yard dash.
When the Ravens were in their sub-package defenses, they had an unbelievable amount of speed on the field. That kind of talent on display in the third quarter of the first preseason game shows that this was a priority for the organization. The Ravens are going to have some tough decisions when they have to start making roster cuts because they have a surplus of horsepower for their defense. A lot of that horsepower comes from players who are just getting gong in the NFL.
3. The roster is stacked
The biggest problem the Ravens are going to have is that many of their roster decisions are essentially already made. With the exception of maybe the offensive line, we know who the starters are on offense. Defensively the starters are even more obviously set. There are only a few questions to be answered. How many quarterbacks will the Ravens keep? How many wide receivers will they keep? What’s the magic number for defensive backs? What do the Ravens need to worry about?
The Ravens forced six turnovers on defense. Between the starters and each rung of backups, there were some big plays given up on defense. That being said, the Saints only scored two touchdowns and it was the defense that put the game away (Thanks Shaun Wade). Doesn’t it seem like this should have been a more compelling victory for the purple and black? Despite the bad offensive line play, you have to wonder if Tyler Huntley played the whole game, would the Ravens’ win still have to be in the comeback fashion?
NEXT POST: Ravens vs Saints: Observations from the first preseason game
The point here is that the Ravens roster showed up. The Ravens looked like the team with the better depth overall. After a training camp of worrying about injuries and hiccups, this game showed us that the Ravens have talent all throughout the depth chart. When you look at this game, there are a lot more positives than negatives. That’s all you need in the preseason.
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