It was, after all, just a practice. Sure, it looked like Spurrier Part Deux, but in the end, there were a lot of guys on the field doing things they may or may not be asked to do in the regular season. And that is your special batch of pre-season Kool-Aid. (from here it gets less tasty and refreshing.)
First, what didn't work:
uhhhhh....well, we all watched right? I mean, there were a few plays where I noticed that JC got some time to make a decision, but the lack of timely pass protection (3rd downs and long yardage passing situations) was notable. Jason Campbell did not look terrible, but he failed to change many (or any) minds out there regarding his growth. Fred Davis really shocked me with his inability to hold the ball. SHOCKED. Considering I think we need him to contribute this year, I was rather discouraged by his performance last night.
Malcolm Kelly made a nice grab over the middle and Devin Thomas did not stand out as someone who fouled up like some of his defensive teammates, so all was not a total loss. On offense, we failed to break 200 yards. That is horrendous. We never even made it into a field goal attempt situation, which is rather pathetic.
On defense, I was a little relieved to listen to Greg Blache after the game talk about how they left guys like Justin Tryon and Kevin Barnes on an island on purpose to see how they could/would handle man-to-man coverage. Still, if they had been deserted on an actual island, their performance last night could be compared to resorting to eating your own arms and legs to survive. It was just brutal. Haynesworth and Rogers sat out, but I was a little startled at how easy it seemed for Flacoo to hit up Tryon's man for 10 yard gains.
On special teams, well, the kicker battle RAGES ON doesn't it? Not a single field goal attempt. Amazing. As for punting, well, Hunter Smith kind of scared the crap out of me. I know he will be fine, but was anyone having flashbacks to every punting situation for the last...oh...10 years? Jesus, not only was he not really booming the ball, but our coverage did not seem very solid either. Hunter gets a pass on this one. Mostly because our backup punter right now is Chris Cooley.
Bright spots for me included:
Brian Orakpo - the only thing Joe Theismann said all night that made much sense to me was that Orakpo had a lot of highlights but they pretty much all came with the pass rush. We did not see him doing things after dropping back into coverage that made the highlight reel. I am going to call that good. I mean, how many highlights does a guy have to make in the first game he suits up for without having to hear about how it wasn't enough? For my money, he did enough last night to make me very optimistic he will make an impact this season. He got into the Ravens' backfield a lot, and though he failed to register a sack, he pressured their quarterbacks and drew holding penalties. He is clearly able to get around the corner in this league and will hopefully reap some benefits from having Haynesworth draw attention on the defensive line. I was impressed with Orakpo last night.
Malcolm Kelly - well, he made a sweet catch across the middle...the kind where the ball was up for grabs and he made a play on it. That, plus the fact he made it through the game got me a lot warmer and fuzzier on #12.
Mini bright spot: Kareen Moore. I thought that he played with a lot of energy and spirit. I liked some of the hits he made and I enjoyed seeing him get after it for the whole game. I am simply unsure how well he played his position at this point, but I thought that he stood out a bit with a few hits.
I'll be honest. Those were my two bright spots. I won't insult your intelligence by drumming up positive B.S. about a play here or a play there. We were out-gained in yards 500-196. We failed to score. We continue to be unable to give the QB time. All in all, it was a miserable effort.
The good news is that these games don't count. Both Zorn and Blache afterward in their press conferences exhibited calming and reassuring tones. I doubt they were as cool with the individual players who got made fools of in certain situations, but at least you didn't hear either of them say something like, "You know what, have no idea what happened out there tonight."
While the results don't count in the standings, you still play these games to move the ball, score, and keep the other team out of the end zone. We failed to do all of these things. Therefore, the only grade we can really give here is a D- at best. I simply can't give an F for a first pre-season game. It is not fair. They have to have somewhere to go--up or down--in the second week. But come next week, if there is not significant improvement, the F is coming out.
Finally, like the rest of you, I am simply a couch critic, an armchair quarterback...but there is no mistaking the feeling after last night's affair. It felt like...the same. And that is the last thing we need right now. Here's hoping that they are able to learn some things from the debacle in B-more last night.