Mike Preston

Mike Preston's report card from the Ravens' 23-17 wild-card-round loss to the Chargers

Quarterback: Rookie Lamar Jackson still has to prove he can run a pro-style passing offense, and his weaknesses were on display against the Chargers. He struggles with poor mechanics, gripping the ball and the proper follow-through in his throwing motion. It’s hard for a running quarterback to win once his team trails early in the game. The Chargers stacked the box against Jackson and he couldn’t overcome. Grade: F

Offensive line: The Ravens couldn’t stop the Chargers’ pass rush, and Los Angeles had seven sacks. James Hurst and Bradley Bozeman played poorly at left guard, and both tackles gave poor efforts with rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr struggling more than Ronnie Stanley. This was ugly, a big difference from two weeks ago when the teams played. Grade: F


Receivers: This might have been the farewell game for veterans John Brown and Michael Crabtree. The Ravens didn’t decide to use them until late in the game, but by then it was too late. Crabtree had touchdown catches of 31 and 7 yards in the fourth quarter, and Willie Snead IV had three catches for 50 yards. The tight ends were not factors even though Mark Andrews was targeted seven times with three receptions. Grade: C

Running backs: The Chargers put seven and eight players near the line of scrimmage and took the gut-running away from the Ravens. Gus Edwards had 23 yards on eight carries, and Kenneth Dixon had six for 13 yards plus a fumble. Downhill running in this game was tough, and the Ravens had nothing to counter the defense. Grade: D


Defensive line: The Chargers deserve some credit because they stayed with the running game and pounded out 89 rushing yards on 33 carries. The Chargers did a good job of game-planning and stayed away from tackles Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams. Most of their yards came from pounding outside or off tackle. Besides Pierce and Williams, who combined for four tackles, the Ravens also got a strong game from end Brent Urban. Grade: A

Linebackers: The outside linebackers didn’t get as much pressure on quarterback Philip Rivers as they did two weeks ago, but they turned in another strong effort. Matthew Judon got pressure on Rivers several times but also was strong against the run. Inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor combined for 18 tackles but were slow plugging holes at times in the middle or off tackles. Overall, though, this group controlled the flow of the game. Grade: A

Secondary: This group wasn’t as dominant as the other two on defense but still played well enough to win. Rivers didn’t challenge the Ravens much downfield, but he did catch cornerback Jimmy Smith napping a couple of times. It appeared that Smith lost the ball. Safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson each had seven tackles. They were good in run support for most of the game. Grade: B

Special teams: The Ravens gave up a 72-yard kickoff return and a 33-yard punt return. The usually reliable Justin Tucker missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt, Sam Koch managed only a 31-yard punt when the Ravens needed a big kick midway through the fourth quarter. Grade: C-

Coaching: Defensively, the Ravens played well enough to win but couldn’t dominate play the way they did two weeks ago. Offensively, the Ravens were terrible. They never adjusted to the Chargers crowding the line of scrimmage, not even with short hitch or slant-in patterns to back them off. The Ravens came out lethargically, and once they went three-and-out on their first series of the third quarter, coach John Harbaugh should have inserted former starter Joe Flacco at quarterback. These were the playoffs. There was no tomorrow, so Harbaugh should have sent in No. 5. Grade: D