Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
The NFL preseason is here, and the entire QB List staff watched all the games so you don’t have to. Here, we’ll take a look at Monday night’s game between the Ravens and Colts. And don’t forget to check out our thoughts on the rest of Week 2’s action here.
Preseason football is perhaps the biggest tease there is. Can we please just shorten it, or get rid of it all together? Here I am, on a Monday night, after a long day at work. I am jacked to watch Luck and others in primetime. Then I realize, I only get about a quarter’s worth of the players I want to see in action. Nevertheless, there were a few position groups on both teams that I was intrigued to see. I was curious to see how the Colts would divvy up their carries in the backfield. I was also looking forward to see the play of Lamar Jackson. There was not a whole lot of action in this one, but there were a few key takeaways.
A Befuddling Backfield
The Colts distributed the carries pretty evenly amongst their four backs tonight. Jordan Wilkins and Christine Michael toted the rock the most, with Wilkins looking like the more effective of the two. The team mixed in Nyheim Hines and Josh Ferguson, but neither really did anything to impress. There are less than three weeks until the regular season and I still could not tell you who is the favorite to be the starter. Keep in mind that Marlon Mack is still dealing with a nagging injury and will only further confuse things when he returns. If I had to put my money on it, I would say Michael gets first crack at early down work. Wilkins and Hines should mix in on passing downs. This is looking like a fantasy situation to avoid at all costs.
Not Much Luck
Andrew Luck was only in for about a quarter and looked rusty in the time that he was out there. He seemed to alternate between holding on to the ball too long and making amazing throws in tight windows. He will have to be smarter this year about getting rid of the football, but seems to have developed a quicker release. He completed less than half his passes tonight and threw a pick. It will take some time for Luck to readjust to game speed, but I think he is a terrific value pick this year for owners who want to gamble with a lottery ticket. Jacoby Brissett came in and showed why he is one of the better backups in the league. If Luck were to re-injure himself, Brissett would have a decently high floor with the combination of passing attempts and his rushing ability.
Colts’ Pass Catchers
T.Y. Hilton sat this one out with an apparent shoulder sprain. In his absence, Chester Rogers and Jack Doyle picked up the slack. I expect these two to be consistently used throughout the season, but will be handicapped by Eric Ebron and Ryan Grant. Steve Ishmael, who was a standout at Syracuse, was an unexpected bright spot tonight. It will be interesting to see if he has done enough to earn a spot on the final roster. The passing game will run primarily through Hilton and Doyle, but someone will emerge to provide significant fantasy value at some point this season. The question is, will that be Grant or Rogers?
Joe Flacco started the game with a bomb to John Brown on the first play. He did not connect, but it showed the Ravens’ willingness to take more shots this season. Flacco did eventually connect with Brown in the end zone and completed 7-of-9 passes for 72 yards. Many people have brushed Flacco off as undraftable, but he could perhaps bounce back in a huge way this season. Lamar Jackson relieved him and looked mostly putrid until the second half. Jackson shows flashes at times, but has a lot of work to do on his accuracy. He rarely looks comfortable in the pocket and often sails balls above receivers’ heads. He did eventually score a touchdown on a good looking ball, but he must be more consistent if he ever hopes to excel in this league.
John “Smokey” Brown and the Boys
John Brown has been gaining traction amongst the media lately in Ravens’ camp. Many thought Michael Crabtree was the wideout to own, but both could be very effective this season. Crabtree had one reception tonight, but it was the longest one on the team. Brown had a touchdown on a pass from Flacco and still flashed burning speed. Brown’s speed is a perfect compliment to Flacco’s arm strength.The biggest knock on John Brown is his inability to stay healthy. If he can avoid injury, this could be one of the most underrated wide receiver tandems in the league. Hayden Hurst and Javorius Allen will also be key components in the receiving game.
The Ravens’ Runners
Alex Collins did not play in this one, but that gave Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon a chance to shine. Coming into this game, many believed Dixon was on the roster bubble. However, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and added three catches for 24 yards. Both he and Allen looked quick and read the holes well. They are also effective in the receiving game and the Ravens will be hard pressed to cut any of these three guys in the coming weeks.
This one was certainly sloppy at times. There was a total of five turnovers and most of them were to the Ravens’ benefit. The Ravens seem to have a unit built to cause turnovers, which they finished first in last season. Led by Players like Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley, the Ravens look to have another top unit in the making on the defensive side of the ball.
The Colts have nowhere to go, but up from last season’s abysmal defensive performance. They ranked in the bottom three in terms of yardage given up to opposing offenses. With their zone style; the Colts are projecting to have a bend, but don’t break defense. This will leave them to rely on turnovers to get the job done. Although they have very few household names, I was highly impressed with Zaire Franklin and Hassan Ridgeway. Hopefully, the Colts’ offense can build enough of a cushion to help their defense in games throughout the season.