Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens vs. Carolina Panthers: The good, bad and ugly

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens took down the Carolina Panthers 20-3 in their preseason game on Saturday night. When all was said and done, the Ravens picked up their 19th straight preseason win. It was a game that was a mixed bag for the offense, though the defense stayed on a roll. Let’s get down to the good, the bad, and the ugly from this game.

The Good

The Baltimore Ravens defense stepped up right away in this game. Tyler Huntley had a pass intercepted on the first half of the game. The Panthers got down to the one-yard line and went for it on fourth down. The Baltimore defense prevailed and Carolina was kept out of the end zone for the entire night. The only score of the night for the Panthers was a field goal that was preceded by a Panthers fumble. It may have only been the preseason, but Don Martindale’s defense almost pitched an impressive shutout.

The Panthers had under 200 total yards in the game. The Panthers moved the chains eight times compared to the 24 first downs for the Ravens. While Tyler Huntley and the offense weren’t exactly cruising along, they ran 76 plays to the Panthers’ 43.

The defensive backs were the standouts of the evening. DeShon Elliott came up with an amazing stop near the goal line on that first Panthers possession. Elliott also walked away with a sack and played sharply in coverage. Nigel Warrior had a great game as a safety fighting for a roster spot. Warrior had good coverage on several plays. There were a couple of plays where he showed great discipline by disrupting the receiver while avoiding penalties.

Chris Westry had another strong performance at cornerback. Westry is a player I was very skeptical of making the roster at the beginning of training camp. It’s still an uphill battle for the undrafted free agent out of Kentucky, on his second stop in his NFL career. What’s impressed me about Westry is how fluid of an athlete he is, and how fundamentally sound his coverage is. Westry offers some toughness at the cornerback spot. When push comes to shove the Ravens may want to find room for him on the roster.

Tyler Huntley had some good things going for him in this game. He went 24/34 for 187 yards. The former Utah quarterback had to deal with a couple of drops. Tylan Wallace had a chance at a touchdown, but he couldn’t hold on as he rolled into the ground. It was a slow start, and the number of tipped passes is a clear concern; that being said it was a satisfactory showing for the de facto backup of Lamar Jackson.

Speaking of Tylan Wallace, he did have some positives in this game. Wallace had two receptions for 36 yards. On one reception, he ran a great route and took a short pass, and turned on the jets up the field. That is exactly what I wanted to see from him. 

The running backs were the stars on the offensive side of the football. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards got a brief cameo appearance early in the action. Edwards had a rumbling run that picked up the first down and then some. Edwards had four rushing attempts for 28 yards meaning he’s basically in mid-season form. Ty’Son Williams and Nate McCrary were the backs that stole the show.

Ty’Son Williams had 10 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was the top highlight of the game. Williams took several hits and kept his balance and made an acrobatic reach to the goal line. In his post-game press conference, John Harbaugh called it an old-school run, I have to agree with the head coach. When he scored that touchdown, it showed everything that Williams brings to the table in one play.

McCrary was equally impressive. His touchdown run showed a good feel for the game and that he could follow his blocks to the paydirt. McCrary had 64 yards on 15 carries. The fact that both running backs have played fantastically and have shown they can catch passes out of the backfield, is bad news for Justice Hill. Hill is reportedly dealing with an ankle injury and the competition for the third running back spot is crazy tight.

The Bad:

Josh Oliver had a fumble early in the game. Oliver also had a dropped pass in the game. Overall the tight end had a respectable evening. Oliver finished with seven receptions for 50 yards and was the most involved receiving option on Saturday night. The fumble and the drop are going to hurt him a bit. If Oliver didn’t have the two blemishes to his performance, he’d be sitting pretty as the third tight end. His mistakes have left the competition alive.

Tyler Huntley had several passes deflected in this game. There are two things to note here. First, Huntley may need to work on his release, a low release increases the chance of tipped passes. Secondly, the pressure the offensive line is giving up is a problem. It was better in this game than it was against the Saints. It was nice to see Kevin Zeitler make a couple of nice blocks for the ground game, though the offensive line was a bit wonky overall. Ronnie Stanley didn’t play (which is a good call), The good news is the run game looked like the Ravens. The bad news is pass protection was a bit iffy, and the only reason there were no sacks is Huntley’s athleticism.

The Ugly:

You couldn’t have started the game much worse for the Ravens offensively. The Ravens waited until the end of the second quarter to actually get anything going. We have to temper our criticism of the state of the offense. We haven’t even seen Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, Ronnie Stanley, and Rashod Bateman yet. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that the offense on the field has some issues. There’s no way around the fact that the real starting offense will not get action in a game setting together until the regular season.

L.J. Fort suffered a bad injury. In his post-game press conference, Harbaugh said it didn’t look good. Fort is a veteran linebacker. While he’s not projected to be a starter in the 2021 season, he’s still a valuable player. This is one of the problems with preseason. The reward is a win that doesn’t really do anything, while the risk is injuries like this. Injuries are the ugliest thing you can see in a game that doesn’t count.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Three Big Questions About the Linebackers

There you have it! That’s the good, bad, and ugly from the Ravens’ battle with the Panthers. Roster cuts are coming. We are getting close to the regular season. Keep it locked into PBN when you need to stay in the know!

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