A Holiday Embarrassment!

Harbaugh sidelines

In a word – embarrassing.

The World Champion Baltimore Ravens had an opportunity to make a statement against perennial playoff contenders, the New England Patriots. Instead of seizing the opportunity as proud defenders of the crown, they looked like shameful pretenders.

They were outplayed, outhustled, outcoached, out-planned, out-executed and probably ousted from the post season while being outscored in record fashion at M&T Bank Stadium.

There was nothing good about the game except the fact that a fan could comfortably sit in the stands in shorts and a t-shirt on a late December Baltimore evening. The rest was pretty much partly bad to mostly ugly.

I have to admit that I got caught up in the notion that the Ravens were a team of destiny and that somehow their best games had yet to be played – that they were gelling at just the right time and that other teams, seeing what the battle-tested Ravens accomplished last season, would dread drawing John Harbaugh’s troops in the 2013 playoffs.

“Here Come The Ravens!”, the national media opined this past week. We bought in, willingly – intoxicated by it. But really, what a crock!

Today, “There Go The Ravens!” would seem pretty fitting.

If the Ravens somehow stumble into the playoffs, other teams won’t be leery of the champs in the way we all deliriously romanticize about and Colin Cowherd ranted about. Not a chance! Those teams will be chomping at the bit to draw the curtain, unveil all of the warts and expose the Ravens as a team that is LUCKY to be 8-7.

Who wouldn’t want to host a severely flawed team, one-dimensional offense and an inconsistent defense whose best playmaker (Terrell Suggs) has disappeared for nearly half the season and wasn’t even on the field during crunch time last night?

Suggs could be playing his way off the Ravens roster in 2014. Parting ways with him would represent a $7.8M cap savings, but that’s another story for another day.

Back to the mess at hand, it is quite possible that the team’s luck could continue and they do get to punch their ticket to the postseason dance if they can beat the motivated Bengals in Cincinnati where the hosts have yet to lose in 2013 and where they still have a shot at the No. 2 seed and an all-important bye.

It’s not going to be easy in the Queen City against the newly-crowned AFC North Champs.

Besides playing well enough to win in Cincy, the Ravens would also have to hope that either the Jets can knock off the Dolphins in Miami or the Chargers lose to the Chiefs in San Diego. Good luck with that one – the Chiefs regardless of what they do are the No. 5 seed and as the Ravens proved last year when taking on the Bengals in the 2012 regular season finale, you can mail it in for a game and still go on a playoff tear.

In other words, KC has nothing to play for and the odds makers agree, listing the Chargers as 10-point favorites.

So really the team’s hopes rest in beating the Bengals and with old friend Rex Ryan who will do his best to rally his Jets team in South Florida as part of an effort to save his job.

It’s not a pretty picture but as far as eyesores go, it pales in comparison to the horrific performance yesterday when we witnessed:

 

  • An obviously hurt Joe Flacco lock in on receivers and misfire regularly
  • An offensive line that couldn’t get traction against a banged up Patriots defensive line and the league’s 31st ranked rushing defense
  • An offensive coordinator that simply refused to exploit the middle of the field and who regularly emptied the backfield on third and fourth and short with a gimpy quarterback while facing said 31st ranked rushing defense
  • A defensive coordinator frightened by Tom Brady’s reputation, tucking his tail and refusing to challenge him even without Rob Gronkowski and receivers that aren’t long ball threats
  • A head coach who continues to be rather clueless on the sidelines, opting for a field goal attempt down 20-0 in the 4th quarter while facing a 4th and 5 from the Patriots 19. Was the threat of a shutout that intimidating?

There’s much more but why belabor the point.

Maybe we should all just be thankful the Ravens caught lightning in a bottle in 2012 and hoisted The Lombardi after Super Bowl XLVII. Because let’s face it, the 2013 Ravens have yet to give us four solid quarters of football in any single game this season – not once.

And they’ll need it on Sunday if they want to keep their rapidly fading playoff hopes alive.

The Fat Lady hasn’t sung yet, but she has taken the stage.

What best describes how you feel about the Ravens at the moment?
They drop to 8-8 and gain better draft picks (58%)
They go to the playoffs where anything can happen (42%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.

25 Raves on “A Holiday Embarrassment!

  1. RJ on said:

    Thank-you, TL, for espousing my thoughts and feelings to a T, or should I say L, as in Loss! Btw, what was your take on Bellichek successfully getting 4 injury TOs yesterday to kill whatever momentum we garnered during those drives…interesting.

    • bogeyroy on said:

      Ngata isn’t going anywhere…if we release him, it still counts $15 Mil against the cap. We;ll see about the otheres you mentioned.

    • Hut Guy on said:

      Suggs might go, Rice needs to get back into shape, Dickson and Oher are history, Taylor needs to be utilized or replaced and Ngata is a must return. We need to keep Arthur Jones , Daryl Smith have a fruitful draft. CASTILLO AND HIS BLOCKING SCHEME needs to go to Canada and Caldwell somewhere else with his unimaginative play calls . Lord even, Teddy Marchibroda, god rest his soul, used far more imagination with a whole lot less talent !!

  2. bogeyroy on said:

    TL,

    It was a total embarrassment yesterday, and you put it all together well in your article…there is nothing I can add to your assessment.

    It had nothing to do with the Ravens playing bad and losing, but the Refs yesterday were the worst I have ever seen, and I been going to Colts/Ravens games since 1961. The refs were clueless from the kick off to the final whistle.

  3. Eric on said:

    It will hurt Ravens fans even more if the Steelers slip in to get the 6th seed. For that reason alone, let’s find a way to beat Cincy on Sunday.

  4. tmm1030 on said:

    I was afraid all the hype about press on stats and what not about the Patrioit’s/Brady’s performance against the Ravens was going to bite them in the a$$ and did it ever! Maybe it’s just not meant to be this year. Sadly, this fat lady has begun warming up her pipes.

  5. joe d on said:

    Well said Tony. It was a total team loss. Ravens have a lot of decisions to make starting with Suggs. It is obvious he is on the downside of his career and certainly wouldn’t be worth the money it would cost to keep him. As for Flacco, I agree his knee and the brace was bothering him more than he is letting on. That being said what we have seen from him this year is the same we have seen from him his whole career during the regular season, inconsistency. One week he looks like Peyton Manning and the next week like Kyle Boller. Since the contract he signed is essentially a 3 year deal that will need to be renegotiated after the 2015 season, the Ravens may need to seriously think about drafting a young QB like a McCarron from Alabama and have him sit for 2 years behind Flacco with the thought of parting way with Flacco after 2015 if his play isn’t more consistent over the next 2 years.

    As for Harbaugh, while I am not advocating that he needs to be fired, some of his in game coaching decisions this year have been real head scratchers, like going for a FG yesterday when down 20-0 in the 4th quarter.

  6. JerryB on said:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Tony! A friend of mine is always saying that Harbaugh is turning this team into the Andy Reid Baltimore Eagles and this year, it’s hard to argue with that observation. Harbaugh’s buddy, Juan Castillo, was brought in to improve the running game and given the unheard of title, “Run Game Coordinator”, and, voila, the run game….disappears! Jim Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron as OC and managed to win a Super Bowl before morphing into……Cam Cameron! Arguably, Flacco has had a subpar year, but he’s been surrounded by subpar talent and…..coaching! And, of course you’re right in savoring that Super Bowl that I fear will be along time to….replicate! It will be interesting to see how their number one fan, Steve Biosciotti, reacts after such a disappointing season…….

  7. scott on said:

    Somebody nail this manifesto to the doors of the Castle at One Winning Drive. I was at the game and it was the most frustrating, demoralizing, hair-pulling experience in years. We came out completely flat. The Pats, by contrast, came to kick our ass and humiliate us. You could see it when after one play, a Patriot mocked Ihedigbo’s “digging” move, and after a TD, a Patriot mocked Ray Lewis’s dance — in OUR HOUSE. And we didn’t make them pay for mocking us. The Pats were pissed about last year’s AFCC game and had this game circled on their calendar all off-season and training camp. Blount stuffed the ball down our throat and we let him like a high school junior varsity team. As for next year, I agree that Suggs has to go given his salary and his performance. We have Upshaw, and McPhee and hopefully John Simon can develop in the off-season. But this team needs heart, passion and fire. It needs its old aggressive identity back. It doesn’t intimidate anyone anymore. I think Dean Pees needs to go. So here’s a crazy thought — after the Jets fire Rex Ryan — would Bisciotti bring him back as Ass’t HC and DC again, like he was in 2008? I doubt it. This is Harbaugh’s team and all his coordinators are old buddies who know their place in Harbaugh’s shadow. But Ryan (or someone like him) is what this team needs. A coach with aggressiveness, with balls, who wants to beat up the other team, to scare the crap out of them. We’ve completely lost that.

    • RinoBambino on said:

      I agree with you 100%. The Patriots didn’t just come here to win a ballgame, they came to make a statement. They intimidated the Ravens, out-worked and humiliated them at the same time. a Trifecta! The Pats enjoyed sticking it to us with a couple of meaningless touchdowns at the end just to rub it in. Wouldn’t most players just fall to the ground with an interception at that stage in the game? NOOOOOOO….. run it in for a 60-yard touchdown! We deserve it. Suggs needs to SHUT UP!! He talks trash and then plays like it. ALL MOUTH! What a tough guy! LOSER!

  8. scott on said:

    One more thing. Flacco’s knee injury seriously hurt his game. His passes lacked velocity and his accuracy was off. It was obvious in our very first drive. Torrey was wide open about 30-yards down field with nobody behind him. The entire stadium roared with anticipation. Flacco flicked it to Torrey. Normally, his quick release would zip like a bullet. But the ball seemed to take an eternity to get to Torrey, and was little off the mark, enabling two Pats’ DBs to recover and help break up the pass. That should have been an easy big play, if not TD, but instead a preview of our offensive impotence that day. Flacco also lacked his usual serviceable mobility, which meant he couldn’t buy himself more time in the pocket. Here’s the thing — one team (but only one team) actually prepared for Flacco’s hampered condition: the Patriots! They shut down our run game, forcing us to pass. But when we passed, Flacco was ineffective. Falling behind by two TDs only compounded things, of course. I think Harbaugh’s plan was to play a conservative game and keep the score close for at least the first half, like last year’s AFCC game, and then opportunistically exploit a more tired Pats D in the second half. But we were in no position to play catch-up — not with Flacco’s condition and our weak running game.

  9. purpleneonexpress on said:

    Tony, dont forget Ozzie and his dumping of Anquan Boldin.

    You think the Ravens could use a tough receiver who makes tough catches in tough spots with important games on the line?

    Tell me again who the receiver is on this team that makes tough catches in crunch time?

    Not putting this particular loss on the trading of Boldin, but his presence all year would have accounted for some TD’s in the red zone that would have added two more victories to this team.

    So, my point is, not only horrendous coaching (can ANYONE explain what the hell Harbaugh and staff were doing this week?) led to this loss, but the actual makeup of the roster leaves a lot to be desired.

    Pay Vonte but not Boldin?

    Remember all those catches Anquan made in crucial times that put this team over the hump?

    Final thought…..Ravens gotta stop fooling around with the offensive line. How in the world can NE come in here with a banged up offensive line using marginal players and pretty much dominate the Ravens defensive line, in return, our banged up offensive line gets run over by an injured defensive unit of the Pats. Ravens have a QB who is luckily tough and can take hits, but when is enough enough? The talent level and play AND coaching of the offensive line leaves a lot to be desired.

    I think not making the playoffs may be the best thing for this team. They should get rid of both coordinators and hire people who would actually be a threat to Harbaugh.

    Harbaugh talks about competition….how bout we surround you with coordinators who are also competing for your job John? Instead of your buddy’s who are no threat to your job? Maybe this will motivate you to become a better game day coach and a better overall coach.

    This loss is on Harb’s. Lets see how pissy he is during his PC today.

    • JerryB on said:

      When asked about the insipid and inexplicable FG attempt instead of going for 4th and 5 inside their red zone, he answered that he didn’t remember! He’s beginning to sound like the President! LOL!

  10. RichmondRaven1 on said:

    Tony, I so appreciate that you never pull punches. I am so terribly passionate about the Ravens, I have quietly shared your thoughts all year ( OK not so quietly when it came to the zone stretch scheme and disasterous run game tis year). We have so many holes and so many flaws this year, I just don’t know what we will address first next year. There are likely far to many holes to fill in just one season. I feel sick that Pittsburgh seems to have really figured it out, despite their ragtag offensive line and many other areas lacking. Their defense is starting to look fierce, finally forcing turnovers. A great beginning for them to build on. I wish we could say the same.

  11. PG County Raven on said:

    The last two games were tough to watch and stomach while on vacation. We’re a mediocre team at best and no one fears us. The same issues this season were there last season except we were more lucky than good last year and I’ll take that for the Super Bowl victory. This season is reality, re-evaluating, and rebuilding. Either the pressure of “must win” to remain in playoff contention caught up or we simply weren’t prepared to play. Either way, it was quite embarassing!

  12. Brad Cogar, Ravens Fan on said:

    This is a great article. I think that Mr. Lombardi just nailed it. It is so good I will be back to read another.

    Flacco might be the biggest embarrassment of the season, as he is getting grossly overpaid for what he is doing for the team. I’ve tried to find excuses for him all year, but he makes a lot of bad decisions. How much film do you think he watches?

    I feel like the Ravens don’t impose their will on the other teams. They aren’t as tough and they don’t have the confidence the other teams have.

    Finally, we really need to kick more field goals. How many times this year have we gone for risky plays only to lose out by a few points neglected by FG opportunities?

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