If there’s anything to be taken from the Ravens’ two preseason games so far, it’s that their backups appear to be pretty good.
The first-team offense and defense haven’t generated a whole lot of excitement so far, and in Thursday night’s 27-23 win over Atlanta, the units were downright awful.
But backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor clearly has a grasp of the offense, and the front office has clearly found some nice pieces late in the draft in recent years, as displayed when the reserves vastly outplayed those of their opponent for the second straight week.
You can never get too high or too low based on preseason performance. Teams aren’t showing much, and it’s hard to judge players on games that don’t count.
But in the plus column, it’s obvious that the Ravens have developed a culture where winning in all situations matters, as evidenced by the play of those who will fill smaller roles (or none at all) for the team this year.
The Ravens trailed the Falcons 23-7 with less than 14 minutes to go in this contest before Taylor led the team to 13 points on his next two drives. He first connected with seventh-rounder Aaron Mellette for a 40-yard touchdown and then led Baltimore on a 10-play possession that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tandon Doss.
Asa Jackson followed with a 78-yard punt return for a score, and the Ravens had 20 points in about six minutes to erase the massive deficit.
Fans of the purple and black could leave M&T Bank Stadium feeling good about what they saw, but it of course was a deceptive win.
Joe Flacco needs to develop a rhythm with the receivers he has - granted, Dallas Clark and Deonte Thompson didn’t play, and Brandon Stokley has been here for less than a week.
The offensive line needs to block better in all situations. This is the same group, minus the retired Matt Birk, that was perhaps the biggest key during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. The unit performed so poorly that coach John Harbaugh sent the first team back out to work to start the second half... and the Ravens didn’t get anything going until after the reserves came in.
A defense with so many new parts still looks a bit out of sorts - evidenced by the 20 points and 255 yards permitted in the first half. The offense didn’t do it too many favors by keeping it out there for the majority of the first 30 minutes.
But, in the end, there are positives - the Ravens did win.