Ravens Sunk By Browns, Putting Season On The Brink. Fans Jumping Off Bandwagon In Record Numbers.

Featured, Sports and Bets — November 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm by

I have been willing to give the Ravens a break for most of this season for simple that fact that most champions suffer from Super Bowl hangovers. Add the fact that the Ravens have gone through a massive personnel upheaval in an attempt to get younger and to avoid salary cap jail in the near future, and you’ve got legitimate reasons for a slow start.  So, to me, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the team struggled in September and October; after all it takes time to adjust to new players, especially while playing in the ultimate team game that is football.  But now it’s November and  now we’re nine week into the NFL season and yesterday the Ravens were coming off of a well timed bye week.  This team has had plenty of time to gel, and the bye week offered a mental and physical refresher to veteran Ravens and newcomers alike.  It was time for a break out win. The opponent was a Cleveland team that the Ravens had beaten 11 straight times, a ridiculous number, especially in this day and age of NFL parity. The Ravens own the Browns, this game  was a game that the Ravens probably felt real good about, it was the game that they probably thought would turn their season around.  Well, simply put, that shit didn’t happen.  Instead the opposite occurred.  The Ravens got roughed up by a young, more determind squad led by a solid performing journeyman quarterback.  Instead of coming out re-energized and fresh, the Ravens exhibited the same losing pattern that has become typical of this season.  Slow starts littered with dumb penalties, an offensive line that can’t run block, a defense that can’t close, and  too little too late comebacks that fall pathetically short.  It’s a recipe for a stinking shit sandwich and the Baltimore fans have been force fed this horrible meal for four of the last five weeks. Fans in this town don’t like eating doo-doo sammies babes.

But doo-doo aside,  the problems with this team are many but it’s obvious that the main issue with this team is the offensive line.  They stink.  Ray Rice, a perennial 1,500 yard from scrimmage back, and the most dynamic runner to play in Baltimore since Lenny Moore, has nowhere to run. The holes aren’t there and Ray is consistently being hit in the backfield.  Yesterday Rice had 11 carries for 17 yards.  That adds up to 1.5 yards per carry.  That sucks.  It means that the Ravens are constantly in 2nd and 3rd and long.  It also renders play action, which is so vital to the success of this particular offense, worthless.  No linebacker or safety in their right mind is going to bite on a play action pass from this offense.  That keeps the middle of the field covered and handcuffs the entire Ravens offensive philosophy, which is to run the football to set up play action for the tight ends and backs and to attack the field deep in big chunks on the outside.  Without the run game this Raven offense is crippled, it destroys the root of their offensive philosophy and puts pressure on a passing game that isn’t designed to carry the load. This lack of run game, which isn’t working because of the poor play of the big guys up front, is the number one reason the Ravens are losing football games.

We can’t run for shit.

So what can the Ravens do about it?  It doesn’t seem like they’ve changed the dreaded zone blocking scheme much, if at all, and the mere presence of both Gino Gradkowski at center and A.J Shipley at guard seems to spell disaster for the middle of the offensive line.  So maybe there’s not much they can do about it, besides changing the entire run blocking scheme.  Doing so over the bye week would have been the perfect time to do it, but it looks like they are going to stick with it.  This doesn’t make much sense, but if that’s the way they want to play it then they are going to have to change how they game plan for each game.  They’ve got to spread teams out and come out gunning.  The wide receiver play has been good, Torrey Smith is playing at a high level and Marlon Brown is flashing talent and upside.  It’s time to get these two even more touches, they are the best players on offense right now.  Some bubble screens and quick slants would be nice to see, anything to get the ball into their two best player’s hands should lend some help to this anemic offense.

Marlon can play.

But in order for this to work, Flacco has to play better too.  He’s not living up to his contract.  Without him the Ravens would probably be winless, but $10o million quarterbacks can’t come out of the bye week looking like Joe looked.  His first half was again poor, he missed open receivers and looked lost at times, though it’s easy to look lost when you’re getting crushed in the pocket on a regular basis.  But the bottom line is that Flacco needs to step up, and not just in the second half of games, he needs to play at a high level with more consistency.  With the run game at a stand still, it’s up to him to carry the offense and it’s up to the coaches to help put him in a better position to do so.

Ouch, babes.

As bad as the last five weeks have been, they haven’t been all that bad.  Sure the Ravens are losing, but they are in every game, the possibility  for improvement remains with a talented roster, and in this weak division a turnaround could still be in the cards.  A victory against the Bengals next week would be a huge step in the right direction.  Granted, a lot will have to change and go right in just a week’s time, but stranger things have happened.  But most fans around here don’t share this optimism.  In fact they’re jumping ship quickly.   During the hard times you realize how fickle this Baltimore fan base is. That of course, is their right, but nothing, including five straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl, seems good enough.  maybe that has to do with expectations.  Personally, I expected a down year, it’s just the way the NFL works.  The Ravens won a Super Bowl at the tail end of an era, re-tooling isn’t going to be easy.   So if you want to jump off the bandwagon during this time of transition, go ahead and jump, but there’s still a lot of football left.  Personally, I’ll give it one more week before I really start panicking.

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