There is no denying that I have a deep love for statistics, but sometimes statistics don’t do a good job of explaining what we saw on Sundays. This past Sunday was one of those examples. We will go over the box scores as we normally do, but it will probably be an unsatisfying endeavor. However, as we do this through the season things will begin to make more sense and come into clearer focus. As they say, on a long enough timeline the survival rate drops to zero.
Inside the Numbers
Rushing Yards: Ravens 110, Texans 72
Passing Yards: Texans 196, Ravens 155
Total Plays: Texans 72, Ravens 58
Rushing Attempts: Ravens 32, Texans 23
Passing Attempts: Texans 49, Ravens 26
Yards Per Drop Back: Texans 4.0, Ravens 5.96
Yards Per Rush: Texans 3.13, Ravens 3.44
Yards Per Play: Texans 3.72, Ravens 4.57
Sacks: Ravens 5, Texans 4
Penalties: Texans 9/88, Ravens 13/106
Turnovers: Texans 1, Ravens 2
Time of Possession: Ravens 30:55, Texans 29:05
Statistics demand a frame of reference. Unfortunately, we don’t have one in week one. It’s hard to say whether a number is good or bad until we have something to compare it with. If you compare the Texans defensive totals to last year then suddenly things look considerably better, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. All we see here is that the Texans were better than the Ravens in several key categories so, the lopsided nature of the game comes as some surprise.
The defense was clearly the best part of this game. Not only did the Texans generate two turnovers and four sacks, but they limited the Ravens offense to 3.44 yards per rushing attempt. I’m not sure if the Ravens will be the best rushing offense they face this year. The Titans and Colts are always good on the ground as well, but the Ravens will easily be one of the five best rushing attacks on their schedule. Last year this would have been a 200+ yard effort.
Lamar Jackson is a cheat code in terms of athleticism. He is like Bo Jackson from the Tecmo Bowl days (for the over 40 crowd). So, you have to accept that he will make amazing athletic plays on occasion. He did. However, he was held in check along with the rushing attack for much of the day. The passing attack was more effective, but when you are missing both your starting safeties (as the Texans were in the second half) you will struggle in the passing game. All told, the defense did a much better job against the run and did a good job applying pressure to Jackson. When they play a less mobile quarterback that could turn into six or seven sacks.
We need to be consistent here at Battle Red Blog if we are going to retain any credibility. As much as we like the current coaching staff and as much as we dogged the old ones, we have to hold the current staff accountable for their mistakes. The decision to go for it twice in their own territory was curious, but we generally applaud the aggressiveness. What we cannot applaud are the play calls on both of those plays. You had Stroud on a naked bootleg for the first attempt and an off tackle run behind your weakest tackle on the second. Those calls were going nowhere and while they only technically paid for one of those two plays, they could have changed the course of the game if they had been successful.
The offensive staff in particular must go back to the drawing board. Whether those play calls need to be scrapped altogether remains to be seen. Maybe when Juice Scruggs and Tytus Howard return they can bring them back. For the next three games they need to avoid the naked bootleg or Stroud could wind up on the PUP list.
The offensive line was supposed to be a strength coming into the season. They are definitely not a strength now. Of course, any team would struggle with three starters on the shelf. The team went to their third center (if you count Quessenberry) and their third tackle at one point in the game. That’s not a recipe for success. So, we will call it ugly but we completely understand that they are doing the best they can with a horrible situation.
All that being said, Bobby Slowik and company must find a combination that will be functional through week four or this team could start the season 0-4. They might have the makings of a decent line if they find a decent right tackle and decent left guard. Moving Michael Dieter to guard and Jones to tackle might be the answer. Stay tuned as I’m sure more information will come available.
When you are the second overall pick in the draft and two other quarterbacks were taken number one and number four, it makes sense to compare the three guys all season long. We will do that in this space. Granted, there are always caveats. The main caveat is that being the best of the three is not necessarily the end goal. After all, the 2021 class may not have a single franchise guy in it. So being the best of the worst is not a victory (sorry Mac Jones).
Bryce Young: 20 for 38, 146 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 3 rushes, 17 yards, 0 TD, 48.8 Rating
C.J. Stroud: 28 for 44, 242 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 4 rushes, 20 yards, 0 TD, 78.0 Rating
Anthony Richardson: 24 for 37, 223 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 10 rushes, 40 yards, 1 TD, 79.0 Rating
Technically, Richardson has the highest rating in the group, but you could claim that Stroud was the best quarterback on Sunday. He is the only one that didn’t throw an interception and he and Richardson threw for similar completion percentages. Naturally, the talk of much of the offseason was the inability of the Texans to lose in Week 18 and secure the number one overall pick, At least that failure doesn’t seem to be hurting them through week one.