Grading Every Baltimore Ravens Starter's 2013 Regular Season
The Baltimore Ravens ended their disappointing 2013 season with a Week 17 loss, and there was plenty to criticize. Before we move on to the offseason plans, let's take a look back at how each key player performed.
Here are report card grades for every starter, based on his statistical output, how well he performed in different facets of the game and how well he fulfilled his role for Baltimore.
The numbers aren't the determining factor in these grades, as the expectations for each player are factored in. For example, Torrey Smith has better numbers than Marlon Brown, but Brown received a higher grade because he spectacularly exceeded expectations and stepped up when the offense desperately needed a playmaker.
If you disagree with the grades, let me know in the comments section. Without further ado, let's get to the grades.
Joe Flacco: D
Stats: 362-of-614 (59% completion) for 3,912 yards (245 YPG, 6.4 YPA), 19 TDs, 22 INTs, 73.1 Rating
Joe Flacco passed for the most yards of his career, but that is the high-point of his numbers. Before this season, his season high for interceptions was 12, but he shot way past that, turning it over 22 times in 2013.
The numbers are atrocious and certainly not worth $120 million, but there were many things working against Flacco this year, starting with the offensive line.
Only Ryan Tannehill was sacked more frequently than Joe Flacco, and Flacco was constantly under pressure, taking hits and running for his life. In addition, the Ravens receivers struggled to get open and make contested catches.
For most of the year, Flacco was the entire offense as the running game never got established.
Nevertheless, when you get paid the big bucks, you get the big criticism. Flacco's deep ball was inconsistent, his accuracy wavered, and his decision making was questionable at times, which led to all the interceptions.
Ray Rice: D
Stats: 214 carries for 660 yards (44 YPG, 3.1 YPC), 4 TDs, 58 receptions for 321 yards
This was the worst season of Ray Rice's career. The numbers are well below what we've become accustomed to from the Rutgers product, but that's not entirely Rice's fault.
The offensive line didn't really do a good job of blocking for him, and those numbers are more indicative of how poorly the offensive line played as opposed to Rice himself.
There were, however, some alarming problems for Rice going forward.
For starters, his health was an issue all season long. He had a nagging hip flexor injury as well as a thigh problem that hampered him throughout the year. Rice started to look better toward the end of the year, but he didn't look like the same shifty, explosive back that we're used to seeing.
ProFootballFocus calculates an "elusiveness" rating for running backs, and Rice was the least elusive back in the league this year (subscription required).
That inability to make defenders miss showed up in the passing game where he wasn't as effective as in years past.
Rice wasn't given much to work with, but he didn't make the most out of the opportunities he did get.
Torrey Smith: B+
Stats: 65 receptions for 1,128 yards (71 YPG), 4 TDs
Torrey Smith started the year as an unstoppable force in the passing game, but his effectiveness slowed down in the second half of the year. Part of that was due to how defenses were covering him, but it was also the result of play-calling.
At the beginning of the season, Smith was involved in short routes like quick slants and shallow crossing routes, but that all but vanished toward the end of the year.
Smith set a career high for receiving yards as he became the focal point of the aerial attack, but his end-zone productivity dropped from his first two seasons.
Overall, it was a great year from Smith, although he struggled to gain separation and make some tough catches to end the season.
Marlon Brown: A-
Stats: 49 receptions for 524 yards (37 YPG), 7 TDs
Marlon Brown's development was critically important for the Ravens, especially after Jacoby Jones got hurt in Week 1. He still needs to improve his route-running, but he can go up and win jump balls using his 6'5" frame.
In addition, he's proved himself as a red-zone weapon and showed some chemistry with Joe Flacco.
His numbers are obviously worse than those of Torrey Smith, but it was a fantastic rookie season for Brown considering the expectations for him coming into 2013. He stepped up in a big way when Baltimore needed him the most, and he fulfilled his role beautifully.
Jacoby Jones: B
Stats: 37 receptions for 455 yards (38 YPG), 2 TDs
Jacoby Jones missed a significant amount of time, but his return gave the offense a jolt of energy. He made big plays down the field and emerged as a very capable No. 2 receiver.
His route running was very good, and he proved to be more than just a speedster. Jones displayed his penchant for making important plays throughout the season and was an important part of the offense.
Ed Dickson: F
Stats: 25 receptions for 273 yards (17 YPG), 1 TD
There were great expectations for Ed Dickson after news broke that Dennis Pitta was going to miss most of the season. Dickson came nowhere close to those expectations.
He suffered from a severe case of the drops to start the year and never emerged as a receiving threat this season.
Even worse, he was awful in the ground game. According to ProFootballFocus, Dickson was the worst run-blocking tight end in the league and the second-worst tight end overall (subscription required).
Dennis Pitta: B
Stats: 20 receptions for 169 yards (42 YPG), 1 TD
The fact that Dennis Pitta played any games this year is amazing, and his grade gets a bump because of his determination and work ethic in rehab, which allowed him to come back from a devastating injury.
Pitta still looked a little rusty, and the chemistry with Flacco wasn't quite there, but he was a greatly needed receiver for the end of the season, and he made a number of critical plays.
Eugene Monroe: A
PFF Grades: Overall (+21.2), Pass Block (+13.3), Run Block (+4.0), 21 QB pressures allowed (3 sacks)
Eugene Monroe was brought over midseason and established himself as the best lineman on the team. He was excellent in pass protection and locked down Flacco's blind side. He was less dominant in the run game, but even in that regard he was one of the best linemen on the roster.
There were, of course, a few missed assignments, but Monroe was brilliant for Baltimore. General manager Ozzie Newsome's first priority of the offseason is to keep Monroe in a Ravens jersey.
A.Q. Shipley: D-
PFF Grades: Overall (-20.6), Pass Block (-5.8), Run Block (-13.1), 21 QB pressures allowed (1 sack)
Shipley was put in a tough spot when he was asked to fill in for Kelechi Osemele. You can see why he was a backup.
His natural position is center, and he struggled mightily at guard. He frequently got outmuscled at the line of scrimmage and was terrible in the rushing game.
Kelechi Osemele: D+
PFF Grades: Overall (-4.9), Pass Block (-3.1), Run Block (-0.7), 17 QB pressures allowed (0 sacks)
Osemele was expected to be one of the best young guards in the game, but he struggled in the few games he played in 2013. Part of that may be due to the back problems that ended his season early.
We'll give Osemele the benefit of the doubt and bump him up to a D+, but he didn't play well and was not physically effective in the ground game when he did play.
Gino Gradkowski: F
PFF Grades: Overall (-20.5), Pass Block (-14.6), Run Block (-7.7), 34 QB pressures allowed (3 sacks)
The coaching staff was impressed by Gradkowski's development during his rookie year and training camp, but the center was terrible for the Ravens.
He was ProFootballFocus' worst-rated center this season (subscription required), and his inability to make calls at the line of scrimmage was a huge reason for the offensive line's struggles.
Marshal Yanda: B
PFF Grades: Overall (+9.2), Pass Block (+4.5), Run Block (+4.9), 25 QB pressures allowed (2 sacks)
Marshal Yanda made the Pro Bowl, but that was more the result of his previous accomplishments than his performance this season.
Yanda came on strong to end the year, but he wasn't his normal dominant self. He was routinely beaten and looked lost at times.
Michael Oher: F
PFF Grades: Overall (-14.4), Pass Block (-0.1), Run Block (-17.6), 49 QB pressures allowed (8 sacks)
Michael Oher is a free agent this summer, but he didn't help his stock at all with his 2013 performance. He was abysmal as a run-blocker and struggled with penalties all season.
Haloti Ngata: B-
Stats: 52 tackles (23 solo), 1.5 sacks
Perhaps this grade is too harsh. After all, Haloti Ngata put together a fairly good season, but it wasn't up to the dominant standards that we're accustomed to.
Ngata should always be one of the best players at his position (given his cap hit), and he wasn't that this season.
He was frequently eating up blocks and making plays against the run, but his motor ran hot and cold, and he didn't consistently dominate games.
Arthur Jones: B+
Stats: 53 tackles (28 solo), 4.0 sacks
Arthur Jones had a spectacular year and was a force at the line of scrimmage. He was often one of the best Baltimore defenders and showed his all-around improvement by stuffing the run and getting after the quarterback. His impressive play may result in him getting a nice payday this summer.
Chris Canty: C+
Stats: 30 tackles (20 solo), 2.0 sacks
Chris Canty was solid, but he wasn't the player we expected him to be when he was signed. He played well against the run but was frequently unable to shed blocks, and he didn't provide much in the way of pass rushing.
Daryl Smith: A+
Stats: 123 tackles (57 solo), 5.0 sacks, 3 INTs
Daryl Smith was GM Ozzie Newsome's best move of the 2013 offseason. He missed only five snaps all season and did a little of everything for the Ravens defense. He was excellent in coverage, racked up five sacks and was the quarterback of the defense making calls at the line.
His run defense was shaky at times, but Smith was a leader for the Ravens, and his importance to the team cannot be overstated.
Jameel McClain: C
Stats: 52 tackles (29 solo)
McClain came back from a scary spinal cord injury, but he was only mediocre in his return. He struggled against the run and had trouble shedding blocks at times.
Josh Bynes: C
Stats: 45 tackles (22 solo)
Josh Bynes stepped up as the starter in McClain's absence, and he was just what we expected: a downhill run-stopper that struggled in coverage.
Terrell Suggs: B-
Stats: 80 tackles (47 solo), 10.0 sacks
Terrell Suggs bounced back from an injury-plagued 2012 season, but he wasn't consistent and fell off to end the year.
Suggs started the year in dominant fashion, excelling as a pass-rusher and making plays in the running game. Both of those areas suffered throughout the season, however.
Like Ngata, Suggs is far too talented to not be one of the best players at his position, and that's why his grade is a little low.
Elvis Dumervil: A
Stats: 31 tackles (18 solo), 9.5 sacks
Elvis Dumervil was a phenomenal signing. He didn't lead the team in sacks, but he was the best pass-rusher on the roster. He was consistently generating pressure on quarterbacks, even if it didn't result in sacks.
Courtney Upshaw: C+
Stats: 30 tackles (19 solo), 1.5 sacks
Courtney Upshaw had a solid season, but he wasn't an elite run-stopper like he was last year. He showed a little more versatility than his rookie year, but his run defense is his most valuable asset.
Lardarius Webb: A-
Stats: 74 tackles (63 solo), 2 INTs, 57% receptions allowed, 87.0 passer rating allowed
Lardarius Webb started the season slowly, but he came on really strong to end the season. He was tremendous against the run and is the best tackler on the roster. His coverage skills kept improving throughout the year, and he ended the season with his second interception of the season.
Jimmy Smith: A
Stats: 58 tackles (49 solo), 2 INTs, 55% receptions allowed, 82.0 passer rating allowed
Jimmy Smith had a breakout year and is the best cover corner on the roster. His size and physicality allow him to match up very well against some of the superstar receivers in the league. Smith did an excellent job against the likes of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall to name a few, and big things will be expected from him in 2014.
The reason he doesn't get an A+ is because he started the year a little slowly and committed a few penalties to end the season, but Smith was absolutely fabulous.
Corey Graham: B
Stats: 74 tackles (56 solo), 1.0 sack, 4 INTs, 59% receptions allowed, 95.1 passer rating allowed
Corey Graham provides so much to the Baltimore defense despite the fact that he's often not a "starter." He was very good in coverage, and his versatility was invaluable.
James Ihedigbo: B+
Stats: 101 tackles (63 solo), 3 INTs
James Ihedigbo was a pleasant surprise for the Ravens, as he stepped into the role of a starter very nicely. He started the year as one of the best safeties in the league, but his play dropped off to end the year.
He did everything well and didn't give up many big plays, although missed tackles were a problem.
Matt Elam: C+
Stats: 77 tackles (54 solo), 1 INT
Matt Elam got noticeably better and more confident as the season went on, which is understandable considering the fact that he's a rookie.
He was beaten for a few big plays, and he doesn't wrap up when he tackles, but his speed pops on film, and he's excellent around the line of scrimmage.
He should develop into a great safety in the coming years.
Justin Tucker: A+
Stats: 38-of-41 FG (93%), 27-of-27 XP
Does this need any explanation? Justin Tucker made more field goals than any other kicker in the NFL and was the Ravens' most valuable player. He would get an A+ for his 61-yard game-winner alone, but Tucker was accurate, powerful and brilliant for Baltimore.
Sam Koch: A-
Stats: 90 punts for 4,140 yards (46.0 avg), 9 touchbacks, 27 Inside 20
Sam Koch's grade would be an A+ if we were just looking at the second half of the season, but he started the season poorly. There were inconsistent punts that cost Baltimore valuable field position, but he turned it on to end the season.
Tandon Doss: A+
Stats: 23 punt returns for 359 yards (15.6 yds/return), 1 TD
Tandon Doss lost his job as the punt returner midway through the season, but he still finished the year with the highest return average in the league.
He was excellent as the returner and gave the Ravens valuable contributions.
Jacoby Jones: A+
Stats: 31 kick returns for 892 yards (28.8 yds/return), 1 TD, 19 punt returns for 238 yards (12.5 yds/return)
Part of the reason that Doss lost his job was due to the brilliance of Jacoby Jones. Jones was amazing on kick returns and was a dangerous threat any time he touched the ball.