August 8, 2008

Ravens v. Patriots Recap - Preseason Week 1

The Ravens and Patriots met in Foxboro tonight for a preseason matchup, and it was not pretty. The Ravens technically won 16-15.

For the Patriots, Brady and Moss sat, along with other starters. The Ravens sat McGahee and others. Kyle Boller got the start for the Ravens, followed by Troy Smith and finally a brief appearance by first-round draft pick Joe Flacco.

Boller, the Eternal Rookie, started brilliantly, hitting Derrick Mason a few times and threading some beautiful passes. Then the Pats got to him. He fumbled the first time he was hit, as is his habit. He later threw an interception where the only doubt was whether the two Patriots defenders blanketing the intended receiver could decide which one of them was going to take it. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Troy Smith played the middle 30-35 minutes of the game, and generally made great decisions with the ball. His biggest failing was in making accurate throws, which shouldn't be surprising since Cam Cameron has tried to tweak his mechanics to allow him to throw the ball more quickly. On some throws he confidently strode and hit his receivers. On others he missed by yards.

Joe Flacco made a pretty good case for worst professional debut of all time. His first snap and pass should have been picked off. His second snap resulted in a lost fumble. He ended the game 0 for 3 with a lost fumble, and none of the three passes were close to complete.

bblahlahblah The Skins are so good at LB they gave up on Robert McCune

There were highlights for the Ravens though. New free agent acquisition Fabian Washington, a CB and former Raiders first round pick, had two interceptions. Free agent acquisition Brendon Ayanbadejo (the second Ayanbadejo in Ravens history) knocked down a two-point conversion attempt that would have given the Pats the lead in the 4th quarter. Ray Rice looked serviceable, though with a weak two yards per carry.

The Ravens defense was, of course, excellent. Ronnie Prude is trying to keep his spot on the team, after his excellent campaign two years ago was tempered quite a bit by his disappearing act last season. The Ravens have a glut of linebackers, with Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Brandon Ayanbadejo solidly entrenched. Last year's draft pick Prescott Burgess would seem safe, as would Ray Lewis' backup Nick Griesen. Gary Stills is a Pro Bowler on special teams. That leaves quite a backlog for Antwan Barnes (also a 2007 draft pick), oft-injured Dan Cody, Edgar Jones, and my personal favorite, Robert McCune. McCune appeared to be everywhere tonight.

Yamon Figurs, though, stole the show for the Ravens. He had a 52-yard punt return that ended when he carelessly stepped out of bounds at the two. Later he had a 48-yard kick return. He looks like a totally different returner than the rookie who ended his season with a broken leg last year. Special teams were good all-around for the Ravens, who got two field goals from Stover and a third from potential kickoff specialist Piotr Czech. Coverage was excellent, as returners were stopped inside the 20 on at least three occasions.

The Patriots hardly seemed as though they were trying. QB Matt Cassel looked absolutely putrid. His replacement, Matt Guittierez, was better. He took a few sacks though and threw one of the Fabian Washington picks. The last QB, UFA rookie Kevin O'Connell from San Diego State, made poor throws but looked good scrambling.

The bright spots for the Pats (other than the fact they trotted out almost entire backups) were running back and Maryland alum Lamont Jordan and rookie LB out of Michigan Shawn Crable. Crable had an interception. Jordan had some excellent runs and looked quite shifty. His size makes him a great change of pace to Maroney.

I guess the story of the night were the Raiders' cast-offs, Jordan and Washington. Well, them and the fact that the Ravens probably really wanted to win and the Pats are just biding time til they can start the divisional round of the playoffs in January 2009.

12 Responses:

big tuna said...

It is nice to see another Michigan grad play well at the QB position for the Pats.

J-Red said...

And Crable at LB. I figured you Michigan kids would enjoy that.

The bottom line is that the Pats are 10-6 or worse without Tom Brady and 14-2 or better with him. Based on the last two seasons, I think Gutierrez is the backup over Cassel.

J-Red said...

On the topic of Michigan LBs, I don't think Antwan Barnes (4th round, 2007, FIU) and Prescott Burgess (6th round, 2007, Michigan) are both going to make the team this year.

"ben" said...

Come on now, Big Tuna. Gutz didn't graduate from Michigan any more than Justin Fargas did.

Still, we're allowed to cheer him on a little.

And thanks for the nod to Crable, J-Red.

big tuna said...

"ben", he did graduate from Michigan. He was there for 4 years and the Michigan degree was important to him. He still had a year of eligibilty when he left for Idaho (or was it Idaho State?)

On the other hand, I am pretty sure Justin Fargas did not secure his degree before moving on.

J-Red said...

Under NCAA eligibility rules, you once you obtain your degree you can only play for the same school that granted the degree. You have to be a graduate student or pursuing a second undergraduate degree. If Gutierrez got a degree from Michigan, he did it by applying for the degree AFTER he played for Idaho State. It's possible, but unlikely.

big tuna said...

I didn't mean to imply that there was some debate over this. I am sure "ben" just didn't realize he got his degree. Tough to argue the facts, j-red.

He cited getting his degree from Michigan and the opportunity to play at Idaho State as great life experiences.

This rookie's story sure sounds familiar

I guess if you still want to argue you can call him a liar.

"ben" said...

Yikes! Apologies, Big Tuna. I really thought Gutierrez left before four years with UM.

J-Red, I thought there was one or two years where you were allowed to transfer and play for your grad school.

"ben" said...

But, uh, the same story also says one paragraph earlier:

"He transferred to Idaho State for his senior season."

His school on the Pats site is listed as Idaho State.

So, I'm not sure what's going on.

"ben" said...

FYI, from Ryan Mundy's wikipedia entry:

During his four years at Michigan, Mundy started 18 of 35 games with 86 tackles and three interceptions. Mundy earned a sports management degree following his redshirt-junior season, but Michigan did not offer the master's program Mundy wanted.

Following his redshirt-junior season of 2006 at Michigan, Mundy decided to use an NCAA rule to transfer to West Virginia University. The rule allowed seniors to transfer to another school and participate in athletics without having the sit out a season due to their previous school not having a certain field they want to study in. Mundy enrolled at West Virginia and began his work on a master's degree in sports administration.

big tuna said...

no question he transferred and played his redshirt senior year at Idaho State. I am just saying he also got his degree (before or after the transfer, I am not sure).

Also, since Idaho State is not 1A he didn't need the Mundy loophole. You don't have to sit out, a la Ryan Perriloux.

"ben" said...

Huh. That's weird stuff. But now I get it.

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