RAVENS REPORT CARD: Packers 19 Ravens 17

flaccodown

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.

Offensive Grades:

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).

Honorable mentions:

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.

Defensive Grades:

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.

Coaching Grade:

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?

Final Thought:

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. 

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About Paul Lukoskie

Paul Lukoskie
Paul (aka WickedSolo) has been an avid football fan since he was a little kid. As former player himself (through college only...turning pro and having million dollar contracts and fame just sounded too overwhelming...or he's just a 5'11" 200lb guy who was only good enough to play D-3 ball...but who's...more

16 Raves on “RAVENS REPORT CARD: Packers 19 Ravens 17

  1. John on said:

    What needs re-tooling? The quarterback is playing as well as possible. Ray Rice has lost a step, no doubt. I’m not sure if it’s due to injury, but he can’t make a cut without tripping over his own too feet.I’m not sure what the cap implications are of cutting him in the offseason, but I’m sure Ozzie is. We should see more of Pierce. The wide-outs are actually doing well. Having Jacoby back is a huge plush. Tight end is a problem, but it wouldn’t be if Pitta were out there.

    I’d retool the run-game coordinator if it were me. That’s the biggest problem they have right now.

    Just sayin’.

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      John, thanks for the comment. I agree with you that the running game coordinator title for Juan Castillo is strange, but it isn’t all Castillo’s fault. A good coach knows how to design a game plan to mask deficiencies and weaknesses. This was one of my biggest complaints when Cam was the coordinator here because he was completely misusing Anquan Boldin by having him run 9-routes every other snap. Jim Caldwell isn’t helping things with his play calling. Run, run, pass or pass, pass, run won’t do much against good defenses and the Ravens aren’t really going to play any bad defenses this year. The run isn’t there, so they need to use the pass to set up the run. The Patriots, Saints and several other teams do this because their strength lies with passing the ball. I don’t think Rice only getting the ball 10 times a game is a good recipe for success, but lining up in a power-I formation and averaging 2 yards per carry 20 times per game is also not a good recipe for success. Haven’t you wondered why there aren’t any comeback routes? Rub-routes? Out patterns? Bubble screens? Most of Torrey’s success this season has come on crossing patterns…where were those yesterday?

      Right now the Ravens are 31st in the NFL in yards per carry average and 26th in total rushing yards, yet they are 7th in total passing yards. I don’t want to abandon the run, but they need to use the pass to set up the run so that runs are more effective.

      • Jimmy Dundalk on said:

        Paul , I think you completely missed John’s point,,,,,,,,the entire offense doesn’t need retooling just the o-line and one running back along with the ‘so called’, running back coordinator ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I agree with this very much as not much was changed from the super bowl winning offense last year , why would you want to retool the entire offense , just fix the changes they made as they are not working………………..

        • Jimmy Dundalk on said:

          Hit reply by mistake , sorry , I guess I will say one more thing now , where are all the tough guys , we need one at the center spot ?

  2. Jim on said:

    Reasons why the Ravens are horrible on Offense:
    1.) Juan Castillo and zone blocking. Nearly the same players as last year, and a new scheme. Clearly this is not working. How Harbaugh continues to allow this to happen is beyond me. Fire Castillo and go back to what worked.
    2.)Gradkowski is not an NFL player. He is horrible. They had two years to plan for Birk’s replacement and this is the best they can do? Shipley has to be better. He cannot do worse so give him a shot.
    3.) Ray Rice is injured. He has a labral tear in his hip. Harbaugh lied about the injury. Why would anyone believe that they wouldn’t send Ray Rice for an MRI after he falls to the ground untouched? He did have an MRI, and it showed a torn labrum in the hip. This is why he has no explosion or change of direction.

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      I’m all about players being able to tough it out. Torrey played most of his rookie season with a sports hernia.

      However, if Rice is truly hurt and needs surgery then they shouldn’t be letting him out there. He’s not doing himself or this team any favors right now. Great player, but time waits for no man and if they want to have him healthy for next year with full strength then they should shut him down, roll with Pierce and sign someone like Michael Turner, Kevin Smith or Beanie Wells to back up Pierce.

  3. Gil on said:

    Did we see the same game? The defense was incredible–in the first half. They were not on the field too much–time of possession was even at the half. Maybe they wore down in the second half or maybe it was due to a top tier quarterback in Rodgers but the Ravens could not stop them in the second half. 3rd quarter: interception in the end zone on a great play by Jimmy Smith or they would have scored; next possession–field goal; next possession–TD. 4th quarter: FG but they used over 7 minutes of clock; then with 2 minutes left, the Ravens could not stop them and the Pack marched down the field–the Pack would have scored again if they needed. The defense was not good in the second half. But the real problem as we all know is the offensive line and running back. The offensive line is just plain horrible–they can not rush block and Flacco never has proper time. Whether it is due to injury or not, Rice is just not the same back–he trips over his one feet, drops passes and can not get to the outside. I can not figure why they keep calling off tackle runs given this. To make matters worse they are just too predictable on offense. Time to do something before the season is a total loss.

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      We saw the same game.

      I still feel the same way that I do now as I did during and immediately after the game. Trying to contain Aaron Rodgers for 4 quarters is like trying to keep Calvin Johnson without a reception for an entire game. It just isn’t likely. Sooner or later, they’re going to get theirs.

      My biggest complaint with the defense was they let Eddie Lacy run all over them.

  4. BajanRaven on said:

    Paul, your well-reasoned reply to John perfectly reflects what I, and I’m sure many others on this board are thinking. and if you watch Joe Flacco’s post game presser, you’ll see that he is very frustrated with the predictability of the offensive playcalling as well. he’s tired of always fighting an uphill battle every single drive, because of the complete lack of production on first and second downs. He said that he would like to mix it up more on the early downs, so that EVERYBODY (emphasis mine) can get going. (In other words, not just the RB’s, but the QB and the receivers too). Also, answering a question as to what was the difference in the second half, when the offense was doing better, he said that they got “the quick game” going a little better, and that opened some lanes for the running game.

    He said that, in the first half, the only way the offense could get down the field to score a TD or a FG was to throw passes on 3rd and long. 12 yards, 12 yards, 12 yards. Just uphill all the way. That sounds like a pretty unhappy quarterback to me. I certainly hope that there are some serious talks involving the QB and the coaches going on behind the scenes right now, resulting in significant offensive scheme changes, or we will go into Pittsburgh next Sunday and get our butts kicked by a subpar Steelers team. and that won’t be the end of it. does anyone see us making the playoffs if we don’t win the division?

    • Paul Lukoskie on said:

      BajanRaven – thanks for your response.

      I think after six weeks we know what this offense is going to be capable of this year. Unfortunately, they can’t run block and neither Rice or Pierce are consistently hitting the holes that are there (which is few and far between).

      I don’t want to see this team turn into an Andy Reid-led Eagles team circa Donovan McNabb/Brian Westbrook era where the Eagles passed the ball 80% of the time, but at this point that seems to be the only way they can move the ball.

      What I would like to see them try and do moving forward is allow Joe to run the no-huddle offense for the entire game. Keep the pace high and eventually the defense will start huffing and puffing. Increasing the pace will also keep defensive substitutions minimal. In addition, they need to stop always running pass plays with long developing routes. The OL just can’t give Joe a clean enough pocket for him to drop back and step up into. By executing quick slants, screens, digs, and rubs they’ll allow Joe to take 2-3 steps and get the ball out to Torrey, Marlon, or whoever. Let those guys make plays after the catch. They’ve shown that they can do that. This takes some of the pressure off of Joe and it takes a lot of pressure off of the OL. THEN they mix in draws, counter tosses, etc to Rice and Pierce once the defense starts huffing and puffing and adjusting to the quick passes.

      Essentially, they need to take a page out of Bill Walsh’s book and start using the short and medium passing route tree in place of the run.

  5. Eric on said:

    I have watched football for over 40 years, and I have never seen a team struggle to run the ball as much as this Ravens offense has. I believe that Ray Rice’s skills have been in decline for over a year now. He doesn’t break tackles and cannot get to the holes as quickly as he used to. I also believe that the play of Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemeli had declined as a direct result of having to help Gino Gradkowski. Yanda could also be affected by his shoulder surgery.

    Flacco will not make it through the season unless things change in the running game. When the pocket breaks down, he has to learn to run when the opportunity presents itself. He could have picked up a couple more first downs versus the Packers if he had just taken off with the ball instead of throwing it.

  6. OrangeNeons on said:

    Paul, you identified the key question……What happened to this OL from Super Bowl victors to the worst OL in the league in just six months?

    As you pointed out, each player is under performing at his position and the collective disorder is making for possible the worst offensive line play I’ve seen in a while….

    What happened between February 2013 and September 2013 that has caused such a drastic reduction in production from the OL on this team….It is mystifying.

    • Jimmy Dundalk on said:

      They thought it was Bryant , makes me wonder if they really know what to do , Harbs will never admit it is Castillo’s fault , he’s a friend……..
      >>>>>>>>>>>

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