The Baltimore Ravens are giving us very little to cheer about. The only thing that fans can get maybe get excited about is the fact they are still competitive despite the 1-6 start. The loss to the Arizona Cardinals was the most lopsided off the season and it came by a mere eight points. They have been within striking distance of winning just about every game, but just cannot close games out the way they need to.
The coaching staff has been under fire as the Ravens season continues to go downhill. Some fans want both coordinators fired. They want someone to take the fall for the terrible start. The truth is the Ravens are lacking the talent to win these close football games, while the opposing teams have players with the ability to make plays when they are needed most. The coordinators can only use what is available to them, good or bad.
Marc Trestman has been getting a lot of heat for his play calling through the first seven games with Baltimore and quite frankly, it is no deserved. Trestman has called the plays that have gotten the Ravens offense into position to win games. He has orchestrated drives that have led to go ahead scores and several others that were on the brink.
He cannot do anything if when the players names are called they don’t get the job done. He is not the one throwing jump balls into the air for safeties to haul in. He is not dropping passes in critical situations or under-throwing a wide open Chris Givens down the middle of the field for a would-be touchdown.
Trestman has done what he is supposed to do in this offense: get the ball into the hands of Steve Smith, Justin Forsett and his young tight ends. Other than that, he does not have much to work with. The turnover since Joe Flacco led this team to a Super Bowl has been as drastic as it can get. Not one of his skill position players that was a part of the championship team are still around, and the guys on this team are young guys trying to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Jon Gruden said it best on Monday night: Kamar Aiken wouldn’t even make the Cincinnati Bengals roster and the Ravens are asking him to be a significant contributor. He would not make most NFL rosters. That’s a talent problem, not a coaching one.
A few weeks ago, I was an advocate for Dean Pees to be fired by the Ravens. The scheme made little to no sense at a time when many of us thought this team was better than advertised. They are in position to make plays on defense at times and you could see that on Monday night. One of the Cardinals biggest plays of the night came on a lapse in judgement by every player on the field except for Chris Johnson. He played to the whistle and no one else did. That’s not on the coach.
The reality is when Shareece Wright and Brynden Trawick are forced to be in your lineup, there is really only so much Pees can do to cover them up before they make a mistake that costs the team. He is also trying his best to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but no one is getting home. That goes back to the lack of talent.
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Sure, the coaches are partially to blame because they do have a say on who makes this team. However, the saying has always been “In Ozzie We Trust” in Baltimore, and if you are going to give Ozzie Newsome credit for when the Ravens are winning, you have to blame him for the makeup of this current team. It is lacking explosiveness at many of the key positions in the new age of the NFL. In this era of football, you need wide receivers that make plays. You need guys that get after the quarterback. A secondary that can run with those wide receivers and be a threat to take a bad pass for a score. The Ravens are still throwing passes to the fullback in the flat. That’s what they’ve got to work with.
Harbaugh and the staff do an excellent job of getting the most of their players. You cannot fault them that those players just are not good enough to get the job done. Between the injuries and personnel decisions, this is the group of guys that the coaching staff has to work with. There is not going to be some saving grace – albeit it would be nice if Breshad Perriman would get on the field – to save this season. Harbaugh and company are doing the best with what they have.
The schedule did not do them any favors with four games out West in the first seven weeks of the season. Baltimore is now home for the next month with three games at M&T Bank Stadium and the bye week mixed in. The staff is going to keep coaching the players hard with the expectation to win. What we are hopeful for is that the players continue to fight and turn those close losses into wins.
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