Remember Drew Coleman? Maybe his cutting was a bit more premature than we all thought. I wrote an article after the cut explaining that Coleman’s performance was good but not as good as William Middleton’s performance last season. Coleman was angry at the Jaguars organization for never trying him on the outside. Based on what we saw from Middleton on Thursday night, maybe trying Coleman out there would have been a good idea.
On almost every play the Ravens receivers burned Middleton (especially Torrey Smith) and made the evening look like pitch and catch between Joe Flacco and anybody wearing purple. Going 27/36 for 266 yards and two touchdowns, Flacco looked unstoppable as he calmly read the defense, looked to Middleton and saw a man open on almost every down.
This wasn’t just a problem with the secondary, poor pass coverage from the linebackers, or a problem with the pass rush…the Jags D was simply outplayed against a team they stymied to a mere 6 points last season (ending with a Coleman interception to ice the game mind you). You win some and you lose some. It is a game after all. But nobody expected the sixth ranked defense from last year to be abused like they were by the Ravens. Maybe it was the shorter prep week or the expectation of repeating strong performances against the Saints and Giants, either way Mel Tucker’s unit looked woefully unprepared.
This is not to say that there weren’t bright moments. Terrance Knighton played terrifically and wrapped up Flacco for a beautiful sack on third down. Rashean Mathis seemed to get more into the game the more he played. Paul Posluszny seemed to be everywhere (even if he was tackling a guy who beat him). The starting defense was stout against the run early and limited the backups who replaced Ray Rice early. The Ravens quickly went to a heavy passing attack which was far more effective than a balanced or run-heavy scheme would have been against this Jaguars D.
The main concern about the pass coverage seemed to be the coverage on the outside. Outside the Ravens’s big receivers Anquan Boldin and Smith were able to dominate against Mathis, Middleton, and Aaron Ross. This would suggest that more help is needed on the outside from the safeties when possible.
Mel Tucker’s 4-3 defense relies on players being effective at their positions (what scheme doesn’t, right?). Rush four, linebackers move swiftly to cover gaps and close off plays, defensive backs must play their man effectively and know where and when they have support over the top and when they don’t. When they don’t, it turns ugly fast. Derek Cox was out again with his hamstring injury, but with his return the Jags hope that the secondary will improve to avoid situations like this again.
I hope the team is getting a whole lot of what happened on Thursday rubbed back in their face. After rising above challenges during the first two games, it’s time for the team to remember that they aren’t a miraculous feel-good story. They need to get back to work and know that sometimes the better team humbles you.
Move on and be happy the Ravens aren’t on the regular season schedule.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims
Tags: Aaron Ross Andre Branch Anquan Boldin Baltimore Ravens Derek Cox Drew Coleman; Jacksonville Jaguars Joe Flacco Mel Tucker New Orleans Saints New York Giants NFL Preseason Paul Posluszny Preseason Week 3 Rashean Mathis Ray Rice Terrance Knighton Torrey Smith William Middleton