Sep 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a pass and runs for a fourth quarter touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Ravens have started the season with an 0-3 record for the first time in franchise history. This is no coincidence either. They just aren’t very good football team. It certainly showed in Baltimore’s 28-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
When you consider the fact that the Bengals are one of the most complete football teams in the AFC, the scoreboard doesn’t look all that bad. However, the score does not even come close to telling the entire story.
Ever since All-Pro outside linebacker Terrell Suggs went down for the season with his torn Achilles tendon, the Ravens simply have not been the same team. As hard as it seems to imagine one player making that much of a difference, perhaps, that is the case. Or maybe, just maybe, there was nothing special about this team to begin with.
We, as the media, are part of the problem. Before the season began, many pundits dubbed the Ravens as one of the most complete teams in the NFL. Boy, were we oh so wrong. Through three games, nothing about this team would point to them being a complete unit. In fact, they are more of the opposite.
The Ravens cannot develop any consistency on the offensive side of the ball. To be brutally honest, the only reason this offense hasn’t looked terrible is Steve Smith Sr. The 36-year old receiver has been at his best the past two games, catching 23 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns. Other than the play of the seasoned veteran, this unit has been rather pedestrian.
Joe Flacco has been up and down. He’ll make an amazing throw, then follow it up with a pass that misses its target. This is why so many have questioned whether or not Flacco is an elite quarterback. He has thrown just as many interceptions as he has touchdowns this season (4). No matter how you slice it, Flacco has to play better.
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In Flacco’s defense, though, outside of Smith Sr., there are no proven weapons at his disposal. The offensive line, which was supposed to be one of the better units in the NFL, has underperformed and the offense has suffered mightily because of it. Justin Forsett, a Pro Bowler a season ago, doesn’t appear to be the same back. The Ravens also lack deep receiving threats. Breshad Perriman has yet to play a single snap, but he’s a rookie, and the expectations for him may be a little too high at this point.
The defense, which was considered a point of strength for this team coming into the season, has been exposed. The run defense has been stout for the most part, holding opposing teams to less than 85 yards per game. The pass defense, on the other hand, has left much to be desired. After a solid Week 1 performance in Denver, the secondary has struggled. A young Raiders team had their way last week. The Bengals torched Baltimore this week, as Andy Dalton and A.J. Green both had career days.
Sep 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh runs onto the field to call time out during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Baltimore Ravens 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Ravens have proven that they have what it takes to hang around in games, each of their three losses being only by six points or less. But, one trend that remains evident is that they don’t know how to finish games. It doesn’t matter how well a team plays if they can’t get the job done when it matters most. That ultimately comes down to a matter of will. Who wants it the most? The Ravens haven’t wanted it bad enough win any of the first three games.
Baltimore absolutely needed a big win over the Bengals, but if they fall to Pittsburgh on Thursday night, it may be all she wrote for John Harbaugh‘s club. As painful as that sounds, it’s the reality of things and the truth hurts.
The Ravens had Super Bowl aspirations in 2015. Typically, the best teams dominate at least one side of the ball. This team has yet to prove they can dominate any facet of the game. Forget the Super Bowl. The Ravens don’t even resemble a playoff team right now.
We’re only three games into the season, so it’s not too late to turn things around, but the margin for error grows smaller and smaller by the week. Something has to change because Charm City’s football team has been anything but charming this season.
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