The defense can only be incredible for so long. Considering how much the defense was on the field, I am impressed that they kept Aaron Rodgers at bay for as long as they did. Right now the Ravens are 3-3 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears coming up. While Pittsburgh is 1-4 and both Cleveland and Cincinnati are up and down, the Ravens’ offensive woes could spell some major in-division disappointments on the horizon.
The Ravens have got to figure out their offense and they have to figure it out now. It has been six weeks. Something needs to change.
Overall, the offense looked worse today than they did last week against the Miami Dolphins, which is pretty incredible when you consider how poorly they looked against Miami. At this point, the offense is not only a detriment to themselves, but also to the defensive unit because those guys are on the field for far too long. I still have not figured out what is going on behind closed doors with the Ravens, but their inability to function in the first half of a game is truly pathetic. It cost them a game Sunday, it cost them in Buffalo earlier this year and unless they fix “it,” then more games this season will be lost.
Ironically, the AFC is pretty wide open after the Denver Broncos and Kansas City. The New England Patriots are having issues on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston and even San Diego are not without their quirks. The reality is if the Ravens can successfully play offense for all four quarters for the rest of the year, they could absolutely win the AFC North and get into the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
As of right now, I’m not so sure the Ravens break .500. I hate saying that, but it is the truth.
Joe Flacco, 20/34 (58.8%), 342 yards, 2 TDs. GRADE: B.
Yes, Flacco has some gaudy numbers, but a majority of them came late in the game when Green Bay went into a Prevent defensive scheme. I am still seeing Flacco trying to float passes off of his back foot. This isn’t basketball and Flacco isn’t trying to hit a fade-away jump shot. He needs to move – even if that means getting outside of the pocket – and set up before throwing the ball. He loses all accuracy and velocity when throwing off of his back foot. One play where I thought he completely misfired was a pass to Torrey down the left side of the field. Torrey got his man to bite on an in-route and immediately planted and exploded towards the sideline. Flacco floated the pass and Torrey had to kind of dive backwards to have a shot at making the reception. Had Flacco stepped into the throw and put some oomph behind it Torrey would have had a first down and probably more because there really wasn’t anyone defender around him.
Offensive Line, GRADE: F (is there anything lower than F?)
Individually, they are really not very good. As a collective unit, they are worse. For the life of me, I just have no clue how they can go from being such a strong unit in the playoffs to one of the worst offensive line units in the entire NFL.
Gino Gradkowski is bad – I mean really bad. I’ve tried to defend him as much as possible and while I still feel strongly that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes with this offensive line, Gradkowski is really overmatched and either missing assignments or getting blown back into Flacco.
Marshal Yanda was widely considered the best lineman on Baltimore’s squad and he was by and large considered one of the top interior offensive linemen in the NFL. He has been terrible as of late and Green Bay blitzed over Yanda with a lot of success. He was also called for an “Illegal Hands” penalty.
Eugene Monroe had an up and down day, but I wasn’t expecting him to be an all-star on his first outing. Kelechi Osemele also struggled. Until the line gets better, the entire offense will underperform. There is just no other way around it. At this point, I don’t even think it is fair to try and assess Bernard Pierce or Ray Rice because of how bad the line is. Towards the end of the 2nd quarter Rice had amassed 13 yards on 10 carries.
Jim Caldwell, GRADE: F.
I’m including Offensive Coordinator, Jim Caldwell, in the offensive grades section this week because I firmly believe that he is just as culpable in this as everyone else on the offensive side of the ball. If I were to have a candid conversation with him I would want to know why it is that the offensive play calling is so predictable. This was one of the biggest issues with Cam Cameron, yet the same thing is happening.
A great example of this was when the Ravens had the ball 1st and Goal in the 2nd quarter. The first play was a run by Rice up the middle for 2 yards. The second play was another run by Rice for no gain. The third play was a run by Rice for no gain. They decided to go for it on 4th down – which I totally agree with considering the circumstances – and they dial up another run right into the heart of Green Bay’s defense.
Why not a quarterback bootleg? Why not a play-action pass (on ONE of the downs)? Caldwell’s play calling makes me think that he just does not have a good feel for the game at all. I hate feeling this way, but I am starting to think that the Ravens not looking at other offensive coordinator options (Norv Turner, for example) was a huge mistake. I think what we are seeing is an offensive system that was only successful when Caldwell had arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game executing said offense (Peyton Manning). Once Manning was out of the picture in Indianapolis, the offense couldn’t get anything going on the ground or in the air. I would love to be wrong, but I don’t believe that I am. Caldwell’s play designs and play calling are really detrimental to this team.
Oh, and one more thing: An end around? REALLY? And not just an end around…but an end around to the slowest receiver on the roster (Marlon Brown).
Tandon Doss had 4 receptions and 99 yards. Doss gets a B from me this week. Yes, he had some outstanding receptions and he did lead all receivers with yards this week, but the guy had an opportunity to score what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. Doss needs to work on dragging both of his feet in the end zone. Flacco couldn’t throw a better back corner fade pass.
Marlon Brown made his presence felt. He has really nice ability after the catch.
Finally, Dallas Clark had a huge catch and run and another amazing one-handed reception for a touchdown. On that catch and run, Clark looked like he was 10 years younger.
Anyone who is blaming the defense for giving up big plays to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL needs to take the blinders off. The offense can’t sustain drives right now and as a result the defense is on the field a lot. All things considered, I think Dean Pees has done great things with this defense and he is consistently dialing up pressure with the front-4, which leaves extra coverage on the field.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay’s rookie running back, had a really good game and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Give credit to Green Bay’s offensive line because they did an excellent job of opening up holes for Lacy and giving him huge cutback lanes. Additionally, though Rodgers has been sacked a lot and is working with a rookie left tackle, they did a great job and Terrell Suggs was held without a sack.
Jimmy Smith, 1 INT, 2 tackles. GRADE: A.
If you paid attention to Jimmy out on the field, he only had one negative play against him and that came on a screen pass to Jarrett Boykin who then broke Jimmy’s tackle and ran for a big gain. Jimmy locked down James Jones before he got hurt and whenever Jordy Nelson was on his side, Jimmy didn’t give him much breathing room at all. In fact, Jimmy’s interception came against Nelson.
Jimmy is finally turning into that top-tier corner that the Ravens envisioned when they drafted him. He is playing great defensive football right now and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the better corners in the NFL.
Elvis Dumervil, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles. GRADE: A.
In a game where the Packers schemed to completely take Suggs out of the game, Elvis Dumervil (aka DOOM) came to play. This front-7 is a revelation and their ability to create pressure and get to the quarterback is outstanding. DOOM turned the Packers’ right tackle, Don Barclay, into a turnstile last night.
Dean Pees, GRADE: A.
This defensive unit kept one of the more prolific offenses in the NFL to 9 points for pretty much the entire game. Aaron Rodgers, Mr. Quarterback, only completed 17 passes on 32 attempts, which is slightly over 50%. Pees has done an outstanding job with this unit and as the back end of the defense (Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo) get more comfortable as the season goes on, this defense is going to continue to be stingy and attacking.
Special Teams Grades:
It was really great seeing Jacoby Jones back returning kicks. I still think that Tandon Doss needs to be the guy returning punts and if Jacoby is going to play a bigger part on the offensive side of the ball, then maybe Deonte Thompson should be returning kicks.
Sam Koch, 9 punts, long of 61 yards, GRADE: A.
This game looked like the Sam Koch of last year. He pinned the Packers deep in their territory on several different occasions. Hopefully he was just shaking off some rust earlier in the season.
Jerry Rosburg, GRADE: C+.
If it weren’t for the blocked punt, which actually worked out for the Ravens, I’d have given Rosburg a higher grade. The offensive line leaks like a sieve and now all of a sudden the punt team’s blocking leaks like a sieve too? A blocked punt is one of the least probable plays in the NFL. It just shouldn’t ever happen.
John Harbaugh, GRADE: D.
I am leaving this loss solely at the feet of John Harbaugh. I don’t necessarily disagree with going for it on 4th and goal rather than taking the easy three points because who would have known that would have been the difference between a win and a loss at the end of the game?
What I do have a problem with is his desire to control the clock and win the “time of possession” game. That works great when you can functionally run the ball. When your offense is averaging under three yards per carry, you are going to need to score as many points as possible. Every week Joe Flacco is faced with impossible 3rd and long situations where everyone knows he has to pass the ball, so defenses are planning on that.
I know that Harbs doesn’t like to make rash decisions, but the issues on the offensive side of the ball are absolutely killing this team. The defense is going to be burnt out by the time December comes around and while there is still a shot to get into the playoffs, does anyone really believe that this offense will do anything?
I was joking around with some of the other members on the Russell Street Report Forums about how this team reminds us all of the early 2000’s team. The defense is outstanding and the offense is just craptastic. The only difference is this offense actually has a quarterback who can play. I actually feel bad for Flacco because that guy is getting blasted every other snap by a free-running defender and he is still standing tall in the pocket and trying to make plays down the field.
I know that Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome really wanted to focus on making the defense better than they were last year, but at the end of the day the offense propelled the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory last year in the playoffs. The defense wasn’t great, but they did just enough and I don’t think that Ozzie and Harbs got that memo that this is an offensive-driven league and you need a great offense to go deep into the playoffs consistently.
Now, don’t get me wrong Ravens’ faithful, I completely love that they went out and signed Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Daryl Smith and Elvis Dumervil. Those guys are great. What concerns me is paying a ton of money to Joe Flacco and Ray Rice and then leaving the cupboard barren while the defense becomes the sole focus of the off-season. I hope that next offseason they completely retool the offensive side of the ball because there is a serious lack of talent outside of two or three players.
GIFs c/o Gordon Dixon.