Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Ravens
On Sunday when the Super Bowl banner was unveiled, the Baltimore Ravens didn't look like defending champions—especially in the first half.
The team bounced back in the final 30 minutes and pulled out an ugly victory over a division rival. As with any game, there were some stellar performances and some disappointing ones.
What follows is an evaluation of every Raven who played meaningful snaps against the Cleveland Browns, complete with a letter grade for each one. The grades represent the following levels of performance:
B: Above average
D: Below average
F: Terrible game
Joe Flacco: B
Stats: 22-of-33 (67%), 211 yards, 1 TD, RAT of 94.4
In the first half Flacco was underwhelming and terrible on third down, converting only one out of six attempts. He picked it up in the second half when offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell made a point of running the football.
Flacco converted seven of 10 third downs in the last two quarters, and led the Ravens down the field to score two touchdowns (passing for one of them).
The knock on Flacco in the past has been due to his low completion percentage and reliance on the deep ball. There weren't many deep throws to be made, and he did a good job hitting his intermediate receivers. He also completed almost 70 percent of his throws, which is a very good number for him.
It's also worthwhile to note that his wife gave birth to his second son hours before the game started, so credit to the quarterback for being there for his team and putting aside his distractions in order to win the game.
Ray Rice: C-
Stats: 13 ATT over 36 YDS (2.8 YPC), 1 FUM LST, 3 REC over 9 YDS
It is important to note that the Cleveland Browns' defensive front is a very talented and physical group. They weren't going to be intimidated by the Super Bowl champions—that was apparent from the near-fight that broke out on the first play. Consequently, the low yards per carry for both backs isn't surprising.
Rice's afternoon was cut short by a strained hip flexor, but he wasn't having the best of days according to his own lofty standards. The Ravens came out shooting, running only three times on their opening 11-play drive. That set the tone for the rest of the half, and Rice never really got established.
He wasn't a factor in the passing game either and uncharacteristically (despite what Donovan McNabb may think) fumbled. The injury was the end to a disappointing game.
Bernard Pierce: B
Stats: 19 ATT over 57 YDS (3.0 YPC), 1 TD, 1 REC over -2 YDS
The aforementioned defensive line of the Browns bottled up Bernard Pierce too, but his hard-nosed running style helped him find more success than his running mate. He was patient, had some success running on the outside and did an excellent job of fighting through contact.
He wormed his way into the end zone for the only rushing touchdown of the game, showing an impressive second effort. Finally, he iced the game after Rice had gone into the locker room.
Vonta Leach: C+
Stats: 1 REC over 12 YDS
Leach wasn't particularly noticeable during the game, but that's the price you pay for being an elite blocking fullback in the NFL. The going was tough against a defensive line that was determined to run downhill and stop the run.
Leach made his fair share of nice blocks and made the most of his lone reception. Ultimately, however, his success will be tied to that of the men he's blocking for, so his grade reflects that.
Torrey Smith: A-
Stats: 7 REC over 85 YDS
The stats indicate that Torrey Smith had a pretty good game. What they don't show you is that Smith was the only good thing going on offense for the first half.
He was matched up against Joe Haden for the whole game. Haden is a shutdown cornerback, and just last week he held Mike Wallace to one catch over 15 yards.
In this game, Smith proved that he is a complete wide receiver. His longest reception was 27 yards, and he made all of his plays on intermediate routes. He ran his routes exceptionally well, gaining separation from Haden utilizing his route tree instead of his blazing speed.
He was the receiver that Joe Flacco looked toward, and he delivered the goods despite having one of the NFL's best young corners guarding him.
Marlon Brown: B+
Stats: 4 REC over 45 YDS, 1 TD
Marlon Brown may just be the biggest X-factor for the 2013 season. So far, he has been magnificent and has greatly exceeded the expectations bestowed on an undrafted rookie.
He's only getting better, and has developed a good rapport with Flacco so far. Standing at 6'5", Brown has the size to be a red-zone target, and Flacco has been comfortable throwing balls up for him to make a play.
Brown was comfortable working across the middle of the field, and has the speed to make plays in space.
He has scored in two consecutive games, and would have scored twice against the Browns if he hadn't dropped a tough, albeit catchable ball in the end zone.
Brandon Stokley: B-
Stats: 4 REC over 36 YDS
Stokley was targeted five times against the Cleveland Browns. All five times were on third downs. He converted three of them for first downs, and has become one of Flacco's go-to options when a play needs to be made.
He wasn't used as a downfield threat, but he has been a solid "move-the-chains" receiver—something the Ravens have been lacking without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta.
Ed Dickson: D+
Stats: 1 TGT, 0 REC
One week after targeting his tight ends 17 times, Flacco only targeted them three times against Cleveland. Dickson couldn't make the play on his target, but it was a difficult catch to make.
He was used primarily as a blocker against the Browns' beefy defensive line. His noteworthy contribution was a holding penalty that negated a run for a first down.
Dallas Clark: C
Stats: 1 REC over 8 YDS
Clark made the most of his target, catching it and converting a third down. It was odd that Flacco didn't look his way more after he caught seven passes over 87 yards against the Denver Broncos.
Billy Bajema: C+
Stats: 1 REC over 18 YDS
As the third tight end, Bajema is primarily used as a blocker. He capitalized on the rare target from Joe Flacco and made a nice play.
Bryant McKinnie: D+
Stats: 1 sack allowed
McKinnie was beaten a couple of times and gave up a sack to Barkevious Mingo (possibly my favorite name in the NFL).
Kelechi Osemele: D
Stats: 1 sack allowed
Osemele was expecting great things from a full season at left guard, but it hasn't panned out so far. He was the lowest-graded offensive lineman in Week 1, according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required), and he didn't perform well against the Browns, giving up a sack.
Gino Gradkowski: B-
Stats: 0 sacks allowed
Gradkowski has been on top of the playbook and blocking calls so far, and he put in a good performance against the Browns.
Marshal Yanda: A-
Stats: 0 sacks allowed
Yanda was his usual self, dominating the line of scrimmage from his position. He pulled and came around to make some nice blocks to seal the running lanes for Ray Rice, but it wasn't easy against the Browns' defensive line.
Michael Oher: B
Stats: 0 sacks allowed
Oher's absence was felt when he sprained his ankle against the Denver Broncos. The offense sputtered with rookie Rick Wagner taking his place, so it was important Oher was back today. He played well for the most part and was great in pass protection against his former teammate, Paul Kruger.
Arthur Jones: A-
Stats: 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL
Jones made his season debut after missing the opener due to an unknown heart irregularity, according to ProFootballTalk. He was a force at defensive end, stuffing the run, putting pressure on Brandon Weeden throughout the game and sacking him once.
Chris Canty: D
Stats: 0 tackles
Canty didn't make a single tackle and was invisible for most of the game.
Marcus Spears: C
Stats: 3 tackles
Spears played a role as a run-stopper, making three tackles on Trent Richardson. He's getting limited snaps, but is a valuable contributor to a defense that has be strong against the run.
Haloti Ngata: A-
Stats: 3 tackles, 2 QB hits
Ngata had a very good game, plugging up running lanes and hitting Brandon Weeden twice. Richardson didn't have much success running directly up the middle, and Ngata was a big reason for that. He looks healthy this year, and it's translating to great performances on the field.
Daryl Smith: A-
Stats: 11 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 passes defended, 2 QB hits
Smith was all over the field in this one. He did drop a potential interception after it fell into his hands, but other than that he had a great game.
Josh Bynes: B-
Stats: 8 tackles (3 solo), 1 TFL
Bynes had eight tackles of his own, and he played a large role in stopping the run. He wasn't great in coverage, but against Trent Richardson it was more important to focus on the run.
Arthur Brown: C+
Stats: 1 tackle, 0.5 sacks, 1 QB hit
Head coach John Harbaugh told BaltimoreRavens.com that Brown left the game with a pectoral strain. He did record half a sack when he was on the field, but he didn't get too many snaps.
Terrell Suggs: B+
Stats: 6 tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 3 QB hits
Suggs is one of the best all-around outside linebackers in the NFL, and he displayed his versatility against the Browns. He piled up six tackles and was consistent in setting the edge against the run. In addition, he sacked Brandon Weeden once and hit him three times.
Elvis Dumervil: B+
Stats: 4 tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 3 QB hits
In two games, the pairing of Suggs and Dumervil has been effective. Like Suggs, Dumervil had one sack and three quarterback hits on Weeden. Dumervil was also good against the run and made a few good tackles in space. He was constantly in the Browns backfield harassing Weeden.
Courtney Upshaw: C
Stats: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Upshaw only made two tackles, but his presence against the run was valuable.
Pernell McPhee: C-
Stats: 1 solo tackle, 1 TFL
McPhee tackled Trent Richardson behind the line of scrimmage for a loss. He saw some snaps as a situational rusher, but he didn't have a great impact on the game.
Lardarius Webb: A-
Stats: 9 tackles (8 solo)
Webb had another great performance and Brandon Weeden hardly threw at him. He was excellent in run support and help defense, racking up nine tackles that afternoon.
Jimmy Smith: A-
Stats: 3 solo tackles, 3 passes defended
Smith had a pretty good game and got his hand in the way of three passes. The former first-round pick displayed his physicality in press coverage, and he looked much more convincing than Corey Graham while making some nice plays on the outside.
Corey Graham: C+
Stats: 4 solo tackles
Graham once again had a few issues while lining up in the slot. He gave up some plays across the middle to Davone Bess, but he was a solid tackler.
James Ihedigbo: C
Stats: 2 tackles
Ihedigbo was solid but unspectacular, making two tackles with no glaring mistakes.
Matt Elam: B-
Stats: 5 tackles (3 solo)
The rookie got the start over Huff, and on his first play his coverage was suspect, then he slipped and missed a tackle which led to Cleveland's largest gain of the day.
He also committed a pass interference penalty later in the game, but for the most part his activity level was good. He made five tackles, and his speed was evident.
Michael Huff: C
Stats: 1 pass defended
Huff didn't get much playing time, but he did get his hands on a pass and almost caused an interception.
Justin Tucker: F
Stats: 0/2 FG, 2/2 XP
Tucker was very disappointing, missing both of his field-goal attempts. He missed three field goals all of last season, so it was shocking to see him miss two in the same game. The first one was from 50 yards, which isn't easy, but is well within Tucker's range. He then proceeded to miss a 44-yard attempt.
Sam Koch: B
Stats: 6 punts, 291 yards (48.5 avg), 3 I20
Koch was much busier than anybody expected him to be, punting the ball six times in the game. He averaged just under 50 yards per punt, and downed three inside the Cleveland 20-yard line.
Tandon Doss: A
Stats: 3 punt returns, 43 yards (14.3 avg)
Doss didn't get to return any kickoffs, choosing to take the touchbacks for all three Cleveland kickoffs. He was good as the punt returner, however, averaging 14 yards per return including a long one of 22 yards.