FAST REACTION: Ugly End to an Ugly Year

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Stop apologizing and just admit it: The 2013 Ravens were not very good.

You can make all the excuses and explanations you want, but the fact is all facets (offense, defense, special teams, coaching) made mistakes that cost the organization a shot at the playoffs.

The game today against the Bengals was a microcosm of the Ravens’ season, in that Baltimore was presented with numerous opportunities to win and create distance. Instead, they stayed stagnant.

The kicker is the Bengals didn’t play well today, either. They made multiple mistakes in key situations and did all they could to give the game away, but the Ravens didn’t oblige.

Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a Corey Graham interception. The Bengals also committed two 15-yard penalties (after one play) late in the fourth quarter to give the Ravens a legitimate shot to get back into the game.

How does A.J. Green, the best player in the stadium, get left wide (and I mean wide) open for a walk-in touchdown early in the game? What was Matt Elam thinking? Green wasn’t going to cross his face. Green was always going to run the route he did, but Elam, for some reason, let Green run right by him.

Andy Dalton’s quarterback rating was 62.2. Green was held to five receptions for 61 yards (53 of which came on his touchdown). The Bengals turned the ball over four times, matching their home turnover total of the previous four games.

How often are you going to see a home team turn the ball over four times and win by 17 points?

Stepping back, you’ll see the warning signs were there all season long.

Over the last two weeks, the Ravens surrendered three touchdowns to the defense inside the final five minutes. You also have to look at their inexplicable drop in rush per carry average, from 4.3 in 2012 to 3.1 in 2013.

Joe Flacco, who was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, had a horrible year. He not only finished with more interceptions (22) than he had touchdowns (19), but too many times he looked to just throw the ball up and hope for the best. Throughout this year Flacco made throws that were behind the intended receiver and/or underthrown, and today was no exception.

What about the disappearance of the Baltimore pass rush? In Week 12, the Ravens sacked the Jets three times; the same number of sacks they recorded over the remaining five games of the season.

For the most part, Baltimore’s 2013 season was a cliché. They won the Super Bowl, were lavished with positive press, insisted they would press on and focus on this year’s team and made some bold personnel moves with both players and coaches.

Instead, the 2013 Ravens were statistically average. The eye test says they were worse. Their franchise quarterback, who’s never missed a start, ended the season with a left knee injury, caused by a seemingly unimpeded pass rush.

Now that this season is over (as coaches have likely already done), we look ahead to next year.

The Ravens will have five defensive and three offensive starters hit free agency in March. Eugene Monroe, Michael Oher, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Jacoby Jones, Corey Graham, Daryl Smith, Arthur Jones, Josh Bynes and James Ihedigbo will all be free agents in 2014.

Ozzie Newsome and his staff will also have to take a hard look at players who did not play to the level they’ve played to in the past; players like Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice, who have a combined 2014 cap figure of $37.15 million.

If I had to describe Baltimore’s 2013 season in one word, I’d say it was unacceptable. They had a tough schedule and knew the battle wouldn’t be easy, but they stayed relatively healthy (which most teams don’t do) and still wasted chance after chance.

Losing is one thing. Losing when you don’t take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given is something completely different, and quite frankly is unacceptable.

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About Mike Fast

Mike Fast
I was born and raised in Baltimore. But after a year at York College of Pennsylvania, I transferred to Towson University. At York and Towson, I hosted various radio shows, wrote for the school paper, spoke on a panel RE: college game day presentation at IBS conference in Manhattan and...more

20 Raves on “FAST REACTION: Ugly End to an Ugly Year

  1. J on said:

    I have to say that the Pierce / Scott running combo looked good in the first quarter today. I think it would be a little over-reactionary to let Rice go, but if he begins to struggle again, it’s good to know there may be a solution on the sideline. Ngata and Sizzle need to stay. The Ravens have too many other needs.

    Ihedigbo must go! Too many mistakes and missed tackles.

    Pitta and Jacoby must stay!

  2. -joe d on said:

    Ravens need to move Elam to strong safety and put Webb as free safety if they can find a CB to replace Webb. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt and the Ravens need to find some LBs who can drop into coverage and who aren’t afraid to tackle. Ozzie is responsible for the state of this team. His draft picks the last few years leave a lot to be desired. Other than Elam, who didn’t play great, we got very little out of our picks. When your best pickups the last 2 years were undrafted free agents (Justin Tucker and Marlon Brown), that isn’t saying a lot about your draft picks.

    • bogeyroy on said:

      I like your suggestion to move Webb to safety with Elam. Webb has the speed to get where he needs to be. But as you stated, we would have to come up with another decent CB.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        The position of safety doesn’t carry the high price tag of corners and its doubtful such a move would be made given Webb’s contract.

        • Big C the Guru on said:

          Make an adjustment… there will be adjustments… But cutting Rice won’t happen. Suggs might go… Ngata might be a trade candidate…

  3. Raven P in Toronto on said:

    I would say the biggest problem is obviously the O line, Castillo needs to go so we can get back to a power smashmouth type of attack…Caldwell needs to go too, time to give Flacco a legit play caller and some weapons as well! If a line can hold up and give Flacco more then a half second to throw more then not he will be better, otherwise he becomes like any other QB under pressure and starts rushing! Nonetheless I don’t believe this is a panic situation, the D was top 10 overall, and with the O on the field more next year can be top 5! I expected to make playoffs, however with all the overall change this team went through on the roster, it is acceptable in a sense that they didn’t form the chemistry required especially on the O line!

  4. RichieG on said:

    I love Flacco but he underthrew Smith&Jones way too often; he was too frequently inaccurate on the shorter routes, and his decision-making was suspect too many times. He got david-carred this year and I hope it does not carry over into next year.
    If Oz drafts any position in the first 6 rounds besides OL… Of course, based on the UDFA success of J Tucker and M Brown, maybe he can trade all our picks for RickyWilliams.
    RichieG in Dallas.

    • bogeyroy on said:

      I hear you regarding Flacco, but I also wonder how banged up he was all year with all the sacks and other hits he took game after game…or how it would have been if Joe had a running gmae !

    • Raven P in TO on said:

      Hey, he was having less than a second to throw most times! The play calls were designed for long developing routes, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out what was happening on the over and under throws! Nonetheless,the Ravens fix the O Line and give him just a second more to throw we all see what he is capable of in the SB run, so please be a fan through thick and thin!

  5. Jon Fazzone on said:

    The Downward Spiral Started by Giving JFlacco 120 Mil instead of 100 Mil and Releasing Q…And we did not Add any PlayMakers the Past 2 Drafts to Make Plays…The Other Subtractions were inevitable as wil this OffSeason. MOher AJones VLeach Graham Dickson and JJones are ALL Gone…We need to Draft some PlayMakers on Both Sides of the Ball…Ozzie needs to Step Up His Game and Hit on Several Players in the Next 2 Drafts To Keep The Ball Rolling…The SuperBowl Gave Him a Pass this Year Until He Gutted the Team…And did a Poor Job in FA Signings…And Replacing MBirk ..Oz we need Your A Game This OffSeason

    • Raven P in TO on said:

      Again, Q was offered a restructure that he declined! I swear being Raven fans you all would know this! For the record Flacco took less money in years 1 and 2 to let people come /stay!

  6. steve on said:

    I saw a lot of creativity today on offence. problem is it was not the ravens offence. it was not the bungles offence either.it was on other games I watched today. any team with a simi talented offence would have buried the bungles early. the offensive line is THE reason we are not in the playoffs the year. some of you are going to blame joe, and I can understand that. some of you will blame the running game or play calling or coaching, I understand that too. the bottom line is the OL is not protecting the quarterback or making holes for the run game which means the defence is on the field way to much. fix the OL tweak the D a little, have a good draft we will be ok.

  7. Mr. Oldman on said:

    The O-Line is a sieve, which helps to explain some of Flacco’s and Rice’s troubles and injuries this year, but I also think the tread is wearing a little thin on Ray’s tires. A big issue for me is the porous D in the 4th quarters of games. Were the preseason talking heads right? How much is leadership an issue in the 4th quarter of games defensively? Ravens 2014 per quarter d stats:
    Points allowed: 63-89-63-134-3
    Yards per Play: 4.81-4.15-4.85-5.98-5.65
    Points per Play: .24-.33-.25-.53-.18
    Time of possession isn’t really out of whack, so except on a game by game basis, they weren’t tired.
    A key drive ended here, a key tackle there, keeping everybody’s head in the game at all times.
    We miss you Ray & Ed
    We need to find that kind of leadership.
    That’s tough sledding.

  8. Raven P in TO on said:

    I agree with the D, but does the porous O not being able to sustain drives make that D less than what it could be at times, just a thought!!!

  9. Anonymous on said:

    The guy im the most disappointed in is Dumervil

    I thought this guy was gonna be a stud .He disappeared in most games and did he
    make a single game changing impact play this year ? Nope.

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