The Baltimore Ravens better hope Joe Flacco will be ready for the start of the regular season because Ryan Mallett struggled with his consistency once again in the Ravens' 31-7 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.
Mallett still doesn't look like a quarterback who can consistently move the ball against a starting NFL defense.
In a hot and humid Miami, Mallett connected on more passes to keep drives alive, but he also delivered throws to the Dolphins to end series. He was intercepted twice (although one was the result of a pass being ripped away from receiver Quincy Adeboyejo) and would've been picked off a third time had Dolphins defensive lineman Jordan Phillips held onto the ball.
"I thought he did good," coach John Harbaugh said. "He got out of trouble a few times and made a few throws. We'll just keep working to build off that. He was under pressure quite a bit early on, and I thought he handed it well and didn't make mistakes -- and that's really important -- and played good, solid football. We're not totally together up front [on the offensive line] right now, and I think he's doing OK given the circumstances."
Mallett's biggest problems are putting touch on throws and stringing good passes together. On some plays, he steps up in the pocket to convert a third down with a pass to tight end Benjamin Watson and rolls out to find Mike Wallace downfield. Then, there are the times when he throws over the head of Danny Woodhead on a simple screen pass and overthrows Adeboyejo for an interception.
Even his throw to a wide-open Larry Donnell wasn't easy. Donnell had to go to the ground to catch the 1-yard touchdown.
The Ravens (2-0) indicated last week that the plan is for Flacco to start the regular season after not playing in the preseason.
QB depth chart: Mallett struggles to push the ball downfield. He finished 13-of-22 for 113 yards. Mallett's passer rating was 50.0. ... Josh Woodrum was surprisingly impressive again. The first-year player out of Liberty completed 8 of 10 passes for 110 yards in addition to running for two touchdowns (14 yards, 1 yard).
When it was starters vs. starters, the Ravens looked ...: Strong on defense. The first-team defense held the Dolphins to 44 yards in three drives. Baltimore limited Miami's top unit to nine yards rushing and stopped the Dolphins on three of four third downs. Offensively, the Ravens are, well, a work in progress without Flacco. Terrance West didn't have any room to run and totaled minus-2yards on six carries. Buck Allen showed some burst, with 40 yards on 10 attempts.
One reason to be concerned: The offensive line. This makeshift group got pushed around up front, and there's a good reason why. Baltimore was without three injured starters: left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Alex Lewis (out for the season) and Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda (offseason shoulder surgery). The Ravens are so thin they started third-teamer Jarrod Pughsley at right guard.
Tucker time: In a span of six plays, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 52-yard field goal, recovered a fumble on a kickoff return and then hit a 27-yard field goal. Just when you don't think the first-team All-Pro kicker can do anymore, he comes up with another play that reminds you why he was the Ravens' MVP last season. Tucker lobbied to try a 71-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but the Ravens didn't give him a chance.
Biggest surprise:: The second preseason game was the best that Ravens tight end Maxx Williams looked all summer. The former second-round pick made two catches for 48 yards, and he showed some elusiveness on that 40-yard reception. In training camp, he never appeared to be 100 percent after coming back from a knee injury.
Defensive lineman plays fullback: How confident are the Ravens in their current fullbacks? Baltimore used defensive lineman Patrick Ricard as a lead blocker in the first half. The undrafted rookie out of Maine was already making a push for the roster for his aggressive play on the defensive line. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Ricky Ortiz haven't stood out at fullback.
Quiet debut for first-rounder: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey didn't make a tackle or break up a pass in limited action. The No. 16 overall pick didn't play in Thursday's second half.