Nov. 02, 2016
Mid-Season analysis of Baltimores tumbling Season
?If you've been watching Ravens football since the start of the season,then you're probably just as disappointed at this point as I am. After a 3-0 start (thought I'm wondering if I should put an asterisk next to it), Baltimore has free-fallen down the ladder of a relatively weak AFC group. Losing four games to teams that didn't have a winning record at the time of the matchup just goes to show how weak this Ravens roster actually is. Victories over Buffalo, Cleveland and Jacksonville, don't exactly scream "impressive". (The Browns have yet to win a game). With that in mind, I'd like to give my analysis on the current State of the Ravens.
Coming into the season, I thought Ozzie did a good job of addressing some of the holes this roster had. Adding guys like Mike Wallace and Eric Weddle in free agency really helped add dimensions that have been lacking in Baltimore as of late: Speed and leadership. I also believe the draft was a success, bringing in players who have already impacted the Ravens in a positive way. Ronnie Stanly was a solid pick at No. 6 and Tavon Young and Matt Judon have done good jobs stepping into limited roles.
When I look at the losses that plagued this team, I can't help but focus on two key factors: Special teams and the the play of Joe Flacco and the offense. Remember, John Harbaugh is a former special teams coach, so I can't imagine he's thrilled with some of the mistakes that his team has committed. Between poorly-timed penalties, missed tackles and fumbles from arguably the greatest returner of all time, this squad HAS to find a way to pull it all together. After Marc Trestman couldn't work the same magic that rejuvenated Josh McCown's career, he was let go in favor of Ravens quarterback's coach Marty Mornhinweg. Marty's approach is more of a push the ball down field, and shove the ball down your throat kind of attack. Now based on the Raven's current pool of uneven talent, I'm not sure how successful this will turn out to be. This offense has never really been too impressive, save Kubiak's one year stint, in recent memory. Baltimore has always played superb on defense, and JUST good enough on offense. That's the make-up of this team. If this team wants to advance and start winning games come January, there are some things they need to work on before their Sunday showdown against the Steelers in Charm City.
One of the main focuses that needs the most attention is getting Joe Flacco going. Believe it or not, his numbers actually look better than he's playing. 61% completion rate, 1,837 yards with 7 total touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Those aren't exactly 22 million dollar quarterback statistics. Even if we take out the numbers, I've still seen too many inaccurate passes from a quarterback who's been the entrenched starter since 2008. If you watched the tape, you can clearly see he struggles with setting his feet when he throws, which causes some of those erratic passes that sail right to the defense. Now I understand the offensive line has been shuffled around more than a deck of cards, with 3 of their starters having been injured , but even in the games where the line was healthy, I still didn't see anything from Joe that impressed me. He missed easy throws and showed sloppy footwork. None of that helps the fact that some of their receivers seem to have cinderblocks for hands, *cough* Perriman *cough*, but the fundamentals of football need to be a focal point moving forward to get this team back to the big stage.
After analyzing the key points to success for the Ravens, I strongly believe they have a shot at a post season birth if they can get Flacco in a rhythm and the defense stays solid. However, the only way they're going to get in is through the AFC North. From the looks of it, those wild card spots will be hard to come by, so taking out the Steelers in Baltimore this week will be a "must win", if that's what you want to call it. This relatively weak division is up for grabs, and if these Ravens want it that badly, then it's all for the taking this Sunday in Baltimore.