Ravens Continue To Give Up Fourth Quarter Leads

Sports and Bets — October 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm by

The margin of error is so small in the NFL. The difference between a good team and a bad team, or in this case a 1-4 team and a 4-1 team, is minute. Good teams find ways to make those one or two plays that win games, and this Ravens team has failed to execute those plays. Thid week’s game was another example of a close loss in a game where the Ravens held a fourth quarter failed to execute the necessary plays to win

I’m gonna start with positives on a dreadful Monday after only our second loss to the Browns under John Harbaugh. The offense played pretty well despite rolling out the starting unit that they did. No Steve Smith, no Crockett Gilmore, and still posting 30 points is nothing sneer at. But this offense also never put the game away like they had the chance to do. If the Ravens had been able to post just one more score (they had multiple opportunities to do so) then the Browns would have had to abandon their game plan and start just airing it out. It’s not like they didn’t air it out, don’t get me wrong, but there is a difference between airing it out because you want to rather than because you have to. When you have to, your opponent’s pass rushers can pin their ears back and attack on every down. That leads to sacks and turnovers.

I thought Marc Trestman did the best with what he had to work with. Newly acquired receiver Chris Givens played sparingly, but he did provide the deep speed the Ravens desperately need. Givens ran past the corners a few times but Joe didn’t look his way, as they need time to develop a chemistry between them. Newcomer Jeremy Ross was a welcomed addition both in the return game and the passing game.

I want to highlight a particular screen play that Trestman called. The Ravens were in 21 personnel, lined up in a strong right with the fullback offset to the weak side. This is a traditional running formation and on the snap of the ball the offense showed a strong counter run look. The offside guard KO pulled to the strength of the formation, which really sells the run look. Tailback Justin Forsett took a counter step left then attacked the line of scrimmage executing the fake off-tackle run to the right. Left tackle Eugene Monroe blocked down towards the center initially, then slipped out to lead the screen. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk blocked the backside end then slipped out to catch the screen. The play design was beautiful, and the timing of the call was perfect, as Cleveland was completely fooled. The linebacker who had the fullback sold out to play run when he read the pulling guard. Here is where this team falls short though, as Monroe was leading the screen he sprinted into the end zone while not blocking anybody. He got too far out in front, and too overzealous in that he didn’t have his head on a swivel to block the most dangerous defender. In this case it was the pursuing linebacker from the inside. If Monroe recognizes that the most imminent threat was the inside pursuit, then Juice walks in for a touchdown. Instead he gets bumped out of bounds inside the ten, while Monroe is standing in the end zone looking around. They went in to score anyway a few plays later, but my point is that the margin of error is that thin. Plays like that might make a difference between getting 3 points or 7 points.

Marlon Brown is really becoming a liability on the field. The guy is just not making the catches that NFL receivers need to make. One catch for zero yards Sunday is atrocious. His job needs to be given to somebody else this week, I don’t care who. I would much rather see more of Givens and Ross then more Marlon Brown right now.

There isn’t much positive to say about this defense. The defensive line played well, registering four sacks. Lawrence Guy in particular played well with two sacks and multiple pressures. Brandon Williams may be the best player the Ravens have on defense right now. This guy should get pro bowl votes this year.

That’s  about it when you talk positives on the defensive side. Another blown fourth quarter lead; it is so disheartening. How do you allow Josh McCown- throwing to Travis Benjammin, Gary Barnidge, Taylor Gabriel, and Andrew Hawkins- to throw for 457 yards? I can see if it’s Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but McCown! How bad is this secondary?

Two plays stand out to me in particular. The deep ball to Taylor Gabriel where Kyle Arrington thought he had deep inside help that never showed was one. Safety Will Hill was staring down a crossing route to jump, when he had the deep middle to protect. You can see him watch the receiver run by him and turn back to the QB and never honor his responsibility. He gambled and lost, and that is happening too much. Ed Reed used to gamble a lot, but he would guess right most of the time. Will Hill’s percentages aren’t quite as good. Therefore, Gabriel runs free into the post, and Arrington had to track him down in Hill’s zone.

The other play is a Duke Johnson catch and run. The Browns were spread with as Johnson the lone back. Linebacker CJ Mosley has Johnson man-to-man, as Johnson is lined up on the defensive right side of the quarterback. This is a mental error by Mosley, as on the snap Johnson immediately breaks for the opposite flat across the formation. Johnson comes wide open in the defensive left flat and turns a three yard pass into a big gain down the sideline. Mosley needs to identify that the left flat is his most vulnerable area to defend. He has to sift through traffic to get out there, and even with his speed, it’s a tough play. He needs to know this and anticipate Johnson going to his most vulnerable area. This is something Ray Lewis would do. Even in the later years when Ray’s speed wasn’t what it once was, he would anticipate things and be able to execute. Mosley, even with his great speed, can’t make that play without knowing his vulnerability in that particular defense.

At 1-4 it’s not happening for the Ravens this year. More importantly they are 0-2 at home in their division. This team has once again been decimated with injuries, and the laundry list grows longer. Dumervil, Webb, Forsett, and Will Davis all suffered significant injuries in this game. It’s time to let these young players play and try to develop for next year. I know it’s hard for fans to swallow, buts it’s time to rebuild and retool this roster. The secondary need a major overhaul, and that’s only the beginning. Hate to say it, but we are looking 6-10 right in the face.

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