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2018 Preseason HOF Game Fantasy Analysis: Ravens vs. Bears
Two things come to mind when trying to describe this game…
1) Of course, I lose my first bet of the preseason…just like last year. Your best bet is to do the opposite of what I predict in the Hall of Fame game.
Hey, it’s just 'handicapping training camp'. We had a pretty phenomenal year of betting last season, but it started with like 2-3 losses in a row to start the preseason. And I love betting small amounts on preseason games to keep my interest level high watching it.
Oh, and freakin’ Tyler Bray (18-34 for 181 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) – I got somewhat exactly what I wanted with Bray in the second half, and he didn’t disappoint…until a final drive where he was bailed out with ridiculous ‘no one knows if a penalty or not’ lowering the helmet fouls – and an eventual late TD to blow the ‘cover’ for the Ravens -2.5 bet.
I can’t wait for the season to unfold and watch games decided by huge 3rd-down stops by a defense, but then the offense is given a 1st-down because the defender is not a meerkat with his head constantly upright at all times when he makes a hit.
The NFL needs to figure out how to combat the fact that human being’s heads are near their shoulders…the shoulders they tackle with a lot.
2) Speaking of interest level in a game -- this game was so dull that as soon as halftime hit, I went to my kitchen and worked on homemade, hand rolled meatballs…the best you’ll ever have. I should stop tinkering with football writing and just open my own meatball-based empire.
That’s how dull this game was -- I was plotting a personal future based on balls of meat. Not a lot of big plays or splashy/flashy plays to enjoy in this one.
I progressed on and watched it all, and back again in spots today and I’m ready to report out. Obviously, the big story is Lamar Jackson’s debut, and we’ll start there and then go random with a million other notes I have…
-- I thought Lamar Jackson (4-10 for 33 yards, 1 TD/1 INT and 8-25-0) looked like I expected him to. So-so passing, but comfortable…allowed to pass or run as desired.
Jackson looked reasonable in the pocket throwing. He’s not the greatest passer, but defenses are always on their heels fearing he’ll run so he has time to survey simple throws…and then take-off running if he wants. If you let Jackson be Jackson, he’ll be OK in the NFL. If they try to constrain him to too many designed plays and needing multiple reads…he’s in trouble.
Jackson isn’t a gifted passer. He’ll make a neat throw one play and then wobble one the next and then throw into double coverage the next. He has a little too much E.J. Manuel in him for my taste.
What I thought stood out in this game was – he’s not that great of a runner against the backdrop of NFL bodies-in-motion. He’s not Michael Vick, not even close. He isn’t original RG3 either. He’s a better than average runner, for sure, but the Bears 3rd-string defenders didn’t seem to have any problem chasing him down. Where Cris Collinsworth pulled out the notion that Jackson tested nearly identical/as fast as Robert Griffin in speed times…I have no idea. Original RG3 was a gold standard for QB tested speed times (4.41 40-time, 1.53 10-yard at his NFL Combine), Jackson, who skipped running times at the NFL Combine (a ‘tell’), I’d guess runs a 4.50-4.55 40-time…good not ‘wow’. Mitchell Trubisky is near that fast as well as Deshaun Watson.
-- Speaking of RG3 (7-11 for 58 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) – he’s done. There’s little juice left in his legs and nothing in his arm at all. But most backup QBs are awful in the NFL, so he’s just another one of them. I felt sorry for him watching him in this game.
-- RG3’s pick wasn’t his fault. He threw a pass over the middle, on a slant, and Breshad Perriman (2-19-0/3) had it bounce through/off his hands and to a defender for an easy pick. It was the nail in the coffin moment for him in Baltimore, I’m guessing. He definitely needs to move on.
-- I don’t have as much Bears-related notes from this game. They sat most of the important players, including Anthony Miller, which was a surprise. Chicago had a noticeable enthusiasm right away, but quickly died down with a very drab offensive approach and early turnovers.
I will say, if Mitchell Trubisky goes down…we’re all screwed, for those who bet the Bears ‘over’ on the 6.5 win total. Chase Daniel (8-16 for 53 yards, 1 TD/2 INTs) is ridiculous to have as a backup QB in this day and age.
I’m sure Daniel is the first guy in the building, like 4am…because all football analysts care about is how early QBs get to work and that the coach is there first no matter how early that QB gets there.
I’d love to see a story about a QB who got to the team facility first and it wasn’t open, because no one was there yet…and he had to wait on the front step until someone let him in. Isn’t the security guard technically the first guy in the building each day for the team…and, if so, shouldn’t that security person have a chance to make the team as a QB? Just based on how early they get to work?
I also never hear about how a head coach rolled in like 7am and was the 24th person there to start their day...and coach was shocked to see all the QBs were already there. It’s always, such and such got there at 4am, but Andy Reid was already there making lunch because he ate breakfast at 1am when he started his work day. I feel like head coaches and QBs leave the team facility at 10pm, drive to their home, pull in the driveway, put it in park for a moment, then put it in reverse and go back to the office so they’re the first ones there for the next day.
I’d like a quarterback that can actually play versus one with a specifically set alarm clock.
-- …I like a quarterback like Ravens QB Josh Woodrum (6-6 for 37 yards, 0 TD/0 INT), who got a few minutes/scraps of play thrown his way before the half…so that Lamar Jackson could have the whole 2nd-half.
Woodrum was perfect on his completion percentage but more importantly you saw him directing the offense like a 10-year veteran…making all the hand signals, alignments, moving WRs into place, etc. He’s a very good QB…better than anything the Bears possess after Trubisky. No one cares but me.
I bet Woodrum gets into the facilities at like 12:02am every day…but always never there ahead of John Harbaugh somehow.
Woodrum should be the #2 QB for about half the teams in the league right now, but he’ll get cut by the Ravens and they’ll put him on the practice squad because scouting QBs is such a science that no one but scouts (ex-failed players and friends/relatives of the owner and guys who started scouting 37 years ago) can really understand it. Certainly not a football heathen like myself.
If someone invested in Woodrum they’d have something useful. The Ravens have been on him for a few years but never put a ring on it.
-- Kamalei Correa (6 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 TFLs, 2 PDs, 1 INT) was probably the MVP of this game. Every time you saw a big defensive play happen, there he was in it/causing it.
He never really jumped off the screen at me, but he was around the ball all the time this game. He’s been a disappointment for two years, but he took a big step forward here. Let’s see if he persists or if this was a flash.
-- The best player in this game may have been Ravens rookie punter/kicker Kaare Vedvik. He averaged 48.1 yards per punt in this game with a long of 63 yards, and four punts inside the 20. He has a booming leg as a punter…just needs more work on hangtime.
He was a kicker-punter for Marshall, by way of born in Norway. He had a 92-yard punt in college. He was also filmed popping 60 and 70-yard FGs in kicking drills this offseason (no defense, just kicking off that holder contraption).
In college, he was not an accurate kicker. 4-of-8 on FGs 30-49 yards out in 2017, and 1-3 from 30-39 last season.
He’ll make the team as the punter and backup to kicking god Justin Tucker.
-- I was hoping Ravens UDFA RB Mark Thompson (5-9-0, 2 rec, -4 yds, 3 targets) would get more work and take a step forward but he played limited snaps and didn’t do anything of note. He did have a nice grab on a low thrown ball, that he just reached down and snatched without breaking stride.
I thought Thompson looked much better than Gus Edwards (10-35-0, 1-23-0/1), but Gus was the lead rookie RB getting touches.
Rookie UDFA RB De’Lance Turner (3-14-0, 1-8-0/1) didn’t show me anything either…he looked as expected.
-- Speaking of rookie UDFA RBs…the Bears gave good work to Ryan Nall (7-13-0, 1-5-0/3) and I thought he was a total disaster in this game.
Going into this I thought he was a deep rookie sleeper, a bully runner in college with better-than-average athleticism at the NFL Combine. What I saw was a guy who needs to move to fullback. He’s too slow off the draw with no real pop or vision. About halfway into his playing time, I was running to my computer to strike down his dynasty rookie draft valuation from deep sleeper to ‘asleep’.
Let’s talk about two rookies who did look good…
1) TE Hayden Hurst (1-14-0/2) showed that he’s ready. Man, did he have a beautiful catch in this game. Lined up as a flanker, a quick mini-slant and the QB firing blindly almost…and Hayden reached up to a somewhat high, sizzling pass and just snatched out of the air. Regular WRs struggle to bring down high, hot passes they have to reach for and clamp with exquisite timing with two hands. Hayden made it look easy…albeit it’s a one catch sample.
Hurst looks like if Travis Kelce played on a terrible offense with no other weapons around.
-- Very quietly, on the interior, Bears rookie DT Bilal Nichols (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL) was unblockable at times. He also chased around Lamar Jackson nicely. Nichols was surging off the snap but working with his head up when needed reading the play. I was really impressed with the little details Nichols played with in this game. He’s a future starting DT for sure based on watching him work in this game.
-- The real MVP of this game, at least according to Cris Collinsworth, apparently, was Roquan Smith…who wasn’t in uniform and who hasn’t signed with the team yet.
I mean, a lot of people are looking forward to seeing Smith but by the time Collinsworth was done lamenting and hyping, I thought Ray Lewis was just going to hand his gold jacket over to Roquan to save all the time of him having to actually play.
It’s typical Collinsworth. You can’t just say ‘this guy is promising, I’m looking forward to seeing him play’…no, you start out with that but then start throwing around analyst B.S. like ‘not a lot people know about this guy’ or ‘not a lot of people know how good he is’ or ‘he MIGHT be the best player from this draft when we look back’.
It’s fine to believe all that and communicate, but can we have any facts or reason why this is? It just ‘is’ according to Collinsworth and that’s all you need to know. Smith almost can’t live up to the pre-hype where Collinsworth was waling and gnashing his teeth over him not signed yet.
-- Speaking of overhyped…oh my goodness…
Remember when Oklahoma OL Orlando Brown was considered one of the top offensive lineman in the draft in January…and then ran like a 9.2 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine? I think Rich Eisen ran faster. The scouts had to scramble to cover their tracks with Mike Mayock-speak…”well, he’s quicker than fast.”
Let me tell you something…Ravens OL prospect Orlando Brown is neither quick or fast (discuss).
Holy hell. Here’s my description/impression of Orlando Brown as a blocker... Imagine you told a 300+ pound dude he could play in the NFL, but he could never ever run…never even appear to run, never utilize his arms or legs in a fashion that someone could think he’s close to running. No speed-walking either. He could only play in the NFL if he walked around sluggishly on every play to try to block a pass rusher.
That’s Orlando Brown. Possibly the slowest offensive lineman in NFL history.
-- The Bears’ first TD…the fullback slipped out of the backfield and across the middle and Chase Daniel hit him for a short, easy score. I’ve seen that play several times with Tarik Cohen in the backfield with Jordan Howard this training camp. It may be the Bears go-to play in goal line situations – Cohen slanting or flaring out from the backfield and burning a linebacker for a short pass catch score.
-- Javon Wims (7-89-0/10) had a nice showing in this game. He wasn’t getting open by big amounts, but he was catching the ball under duress…while all the other Bears WRs dropped every pass thrown to them.
Benny Fowler likely ended his NFL career in this one with his drops.
TE Colin Thompson (2-22-0/5) cost them several nice plays with drops.
Wims looked solid but not ‘wow’. His scouting profile for us is not ‘wow.
-- Bears WR Tanner Gentry (3-19-1/9) doesn’t have a drops issue. He scored a late-game TD that was called back for his knee being down, then a few plays later caught an official TD to give the Bears a chance to win with a two-point conversion.
Gentry is just a very solid WR, but he got nowhere near the love that Javon Wims did from Tyler Bray.
-- Ravens drafted rookie WR Jaleel Scott (0-0-0/1) was a total nonfactor. However, their other drafted rookie WR Jordan Lasley (1-14-0/2) made a nice catch in limited work. Lasley is way ahead of Scott right now.
-- Ravens 2nd-year draft pick DL Chris Wormley (1 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD) played a real nice game. He was working as a 4-3 DT (YES!!!) and was really slithery and difficult to block. He’s back from the dead!!
Well, that’s one preseason game down, 64 to go. I’ll cover them all. A few more busy days and then my life is pleasantly ruined with football nonstop from next Thursday night's slate of games through to January. We’re working on something a little different for you in preseason Week 1 – more news on that midweek next week.
**Our 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Guide Package of projections and reports is now available. See our home page at Fantasy Football Metrics for how to receive your subscription.**