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Playmakers are MIA

The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox Playmakers are MIA

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It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Sure we knew that there would be adjustments. The Ravens brass let us know as much with their retooling project. We just didn’t think it would take so long and now the 2013 season is slipping away – quickly.

We’ve all pointed towards Juan Castillo and the offensive line as the primary culprits. If it was only that simple…

The Ravens offensive line play is made more difficult by poor play calling and the lack of a quality tight end and slot receiver. Sure, Dallas Clark makes a nice catch every now and then and Marlon Brown has been a pleasant surprise. But opposing defenses really don’t have to respect them. Clark is slow and small and while Brown has made plays he’s not anywhere near the level of savvy-ness and pre-snap recognition skills of the departed Anquan Boldin.

Therefore opposing linebackers and safeties are more willing to take risks and pressure the A-gap. Plays break down. Plays aren’t made.

And really that is the biggest difference between the 2012 Baltimore Ravens and the 2013 version – playmaking, or lack thereof, on all sides of the ball.

When the Ravens need a big punt, they don’t get it.

When they need a third down stop, there’s a breakdown in coverage.

When they need 3 yards to win a game, they get a shotgun snap rolled back to the quarterback like it was a watermelon.

Last year the Ravens won 5 games by a total of 12 points. This season they have lost 5 games by a total of 17 points.

One play, one catch, one tackle, one block, one less turnover in any of those losses and the Ravens could be in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth.

The team’s highest paid players just aren’t getting it done in clutch situations.

• Joe Flacco throws a Pick-Six and a costly interception to end the first half
• Marshal Yanda gets flagged for a holding penalty and a false start in key situations
• Haloti Ngata is hurt – again
• Terrell Suggs played as if he tore up the town the night before
• Lardarius Webb brain cramps and his confusion leads to the game’s biggest play setting up Chicago for the walk-off field goal

Here are a few daunting notes:

• The Ravens have lost 7 of their last 8 regular season road games
• Five of their last 10 losses are to quarterbacks named Josh McCown, Jason Campbell, EJ Manuel, Kirk Cousins and Charlie Batch.
• Their turnover ratio is -10
• Joe Flacco has already established a career high in interceptions (13) with six games to go

Mix this in with a coaching staff that apparently lacks good teachers and game planners led by a head coach who regularly mismanages the clock and makes emotionally charged challenges that are practically dead on arrival, and what you get is an underachieving team with a (4-6) record.

What happened to all of the talk of placing the team’s best players in positions to succeed, to make plays? They’d rather use Vonta Leach as a pass receiver than finding a creative way to use Tyrod Taylor or Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice on the field together?

Despite the mess, the Ravens believe it or not still have a chance at a postseason berth thanks to a watered down league that is so mediocre. We’ll see what happens. Maybe they can catch lightning in a bottle again but without playmakers, that seems highly unlikely.

 

THE GOOD

• Justin Tucker’s 52-yard FG in poor conditions
• Sam Koch’s athleticism as a holder
• Matt Elam’s solid tackling and support of the run defense
• Chris Canty’s hustle
• Jimmy Smith’s ascent as a very solid corner continued with 2 red zone PD’s
• Dallas Clark with two great catches for big first downs

 

THE BAD

• Harbaugh’s clock management at the end of the first half
• Harbaugh’s very lame challenge, born of frustration, of an Alshon Jeffery catch
• Corey Graham and Daryl Smith missing tackles on the TD screen pass to Forte
• Suggs, Dumervil and Upshaw COMBINED for 2 tackles, 0 sacks
• Marshal Yanda’s penalties
• Julius Peppers destroyed Eugene Monroe.
• Dean Pees went back to being Greg Mattison.
• Gradkowski just can’t help but to be a goat, this time with a fumbled snap on the game’s biggest play.
• Tandon Doss, tough conditions but if you need that big catch, Tandon ain’t your guy!
• Pierce’s decision making as a runner leading to 18 yards on 10 carries.

 

THE UGLY

• Joe Flacco’s decision making – he STILL predetermines where he’s going with the football. On the second down play from the Bears’ 2 during the waning moments of the game the Bears had 8 in the box with single coverage on all 3 receivers yet he still handed it off to Rice. Sorry elite pay doesn’t equal elite play.
• Staying with Flacco, you didn’t see the 6’4” David Bass standing in front of you only 5 yards away? You know what, I believe you…you predetermine where you are going with the football. And please stop all the talk about that Pick-Six being on Ray Rice. That’s like blaming the catcher who called for a curve ball after the pitcher hangs one that goes yard.
• Hey Joe, pretty pass to Dallas Clark (if you believe Phil Simms) but throwing into triple coverage? You’ve been in this league how long?
• Throwing a pass on 3rd and 16 from your own 22 with 1:00 remaining in the half?
• Going for it on 4th and 8 from the Bears’ 32 with 7:45 left in the 3rd quarter? Really? Pinning the Bears deep at that point in the game had no appeal? After the Flacco fumble on the play, the Bears made it 17-13, 3 minutes and 41 seconds later.
• Ravens/Pees had no answer for the “trips right” with Jeffery rubbing down from the outside on a crossing pattern, the last of which was a back breaker on a 3rd and 9 from the Bears 21 in overtime.
• Suggs should have stayed in bed as he was dominated by Towson grad Jermon Bushrod. He did next to nothing and failed to hold down the edge several times.

Thompson Creek Player of the Game

Ray Rice said he was 100%. No one believed him. No one wanted to believe him because at least then there was a reason for his very substandard play. Apparently he was right because the Ray Rice of old re-emerged yesterday. Let’s hope he’s here to stay — or is Chicago’s run defense really that bad? Time will tell but great game from 27 nonetheless.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony's new Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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