Ravens Roster Configuration Leaves Team Vulnerable

Jacoby Hurt

The Baltimore Ravens started their season in nightmarish fashion losing to the Denver Broncos by the score of 49-27, led by seven TD passes from future Hall of Famer and arguably the game’s best ever regular season quarterback, Peyton Manning.

It happens sometimes. It has happened in the past.

Back in 1969 during week 2 of the season, the Baltimore Colts fresh off a bitter defeat at the hands of the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, were thrashed by the Minnesota Vikings by the score of 52-14. Quarterback Joe Kapp led the way with…you guessed it, 7 scoring throws.

Coincidentally, the Colts, like the Ravens did to the Broncos, beat the Vikings the prior season 24-14 in a Western Conference Championship Game.

History does have a way of repeating itself.

The Ravens loss was completely a team loss and there’s plenty of blame to go around – including the coaching staff.

The best-laid plans from Dean Pees were thwarted by Manning’s no huddle offense. Handicapped by “Hurry-Hurry”, Pees’ planned rotations were kept in check and the result was a defense not playing to its strengths and one that wore down without the rotations.

Jim Caldwell’s unit couldn’t get the running game untracked and without it, Joe Flacco was forced to throw 62 times to receivers with which he’s worked very little in game conditions this summer. Hey Juan Castillo, what exactly does a “Running Game Coordinator” do?

And then of course there was John Harbaugh’s blunder – the inability to challenge an obvious incompletion. Let’s not blame the cameras – let’s blame preparedness.

Corey Graham was convinced that Manning’s third quarter 3rd and 9 pass for 10 yards was incomplete. He pleaded for his coach to challenge the play. Manning with full awareness “Hurry-Hurried” his team to the line and got the next play off before Harbaugh could challenge the obvious incompletion.

Maybe they didn’t get to see the play. Maybe Harbaugh blaming NBC is credible. But while he’s pointing the finger of blame, how about sending a little of it in the direction of the man in the mirror.

Peyton Manning and the “Hurry-Hurry” is nothing new. When you play a guy like that you must have a plan in place for challenges. When a veteran defender who plays with poise screams for a challenge, Harbaugh should listen. And if he can’t burn the challenge based upon a player’s perspective of the play, make sure that someone on your defense gets a cramp and falls to the ground, preventing Manning’s next snap.

Guess what would have happened next?

A successful challenge.

And then after that?

A punt on 4th and nine.

And then after that?

Perhaps a different outcome.

And while we’re distributing some blame towards the coaches, let’s discuss the team’s roster configuration – a real head scratcher.

The Ravens have four cornerbacks despite the club’s understanding that corner injuries are regular AND that their two top corners are somewhat injury prone. Corey Graham, recognized often for his special teams skills probably sees less time with special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg’s squad as a result of the demands on him at corner. Chykie Brown rounds out the group and the thought of him having to start is a scary proposition.

Instead of depth at corner the Ravens opted for an unprecedented 5 safeties. The four not named Michael Huff have a combined 16 career starts.

Then there’s the offensive line. The Ravens are carrying nine O-Linemen, one of which (Jensen) hasn’t seen the practice field since July 29th. They are carrying 2 centers without experience at guard (Gradkowski, Shipley) and a third-round pick from 2011 (Reid) that didn’t even dress on game day. Marinate in that one for a moment.

Moving to the return specialist there’s no one to replace Jacoby Jones who is now out for 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. They traded away a solid gunner on punt teams and a decent returner in David Reed for nothing. Bobby Rainey was released. Asa Jackson is suspended. Deonte Thompson has been unavailable for a month.

So who’s going to return the ball next Sunday?

Bernard Pierce? Hello! The Ravens roster lists only 2 running backs.

Who will return punts?

Lardarius Webb? Seriously! Here’s a guy coming off his second ACL injury in four seasons – one who signed a $50M contract to be a shutdown corner…that guy? Dare I repeat the Ravens have only 4 corners.

Don’t be shocked if Tandon Doss, as shaky as he was, returns to be a returner and to provide “depth” at the receiver position.

This is a mess that the coaches invited.

They are responsible for it.

And now they are accountable for a solution.

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured, Lombardi's Way by Tony Lombardi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Lombardi

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. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

33 Raves on “Ravens Roster Configuration Leaves Team Vulnerable

  1. BajanRaven on said:

    A kick/punt returner is clearly the priority at the moment, because I think we just need to plug Mellette in and we would be fine with WR’s. Cribbs sounds like a good addition on the surface, but wasn’t he released because he was hampered by injuries?

    • Luke on said:

      That stupid fck Harbaugh with 3 AFCCG appearences, 9 playoff wins, and a Super Bowl in 5 years. What an idiot! We need a smarter man to coach our team. In fact, we need a coach with better than 20/20 vision to see the ball hitting the ground from 30 yards away. Jason, you are an embarrassment of a Raven fan!

  2. RJ on said:

    Well said, TL…especially the failed chance to challenge that one play! Hey, Harbs, accountability starts at the top, and maybe you were too focused on that 7 million extension that you forgot to focus on getting your team (and coaching staff) prepared for Manning, and company! Your team was outplayed, and OUT COACHED!

  3. JerryB on said:

    Thanks for “telling like it is”, Tony! Much of Thursday night’s debacle can be attributed to coaching or, rather, a lack thereof. Poor preparation, poor configuration as you call it, poor game management for a change, poor defensive game plan – you DO NOT stop good QB’s without pressure, poor Special Teams performance, etc. This is now Harbaugh’s team and, for better or worse, we’re going to learn just how good….or bad, he is! Maybe that one failure to challenge wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game, but it would have prevented the momentum from shifting. And, failure to activate an experienced lineman like Reid in favor of a raw rookie proved to be another disastrous personnel decision! Speaking of personnel decisions, how ’bout incorporating a couple of sure handed receivers like the Harvard rookie and Matt Furstenburg into the offense? It’s hard to imagine this team going very far without a legitimate, reliable tight end……..

  4. Bob on said:

    Hard for me to put the missed challenge on Harbaugh. How about the refs call an incomplete pass for once? They already made a bad call earlier in the game that Harbaugh had to challenge. Had he just thrown the challenge flag and lost without booth confirmation, Ravens are out of challenges for the rest of the game which was 1.5 quarters. But I guess I can blame him for not taking Corey Graham’s advice to challenge it, even though all players want their plays challenged, I’d think Graham has enough veteran presence/leadership to hold credibility.

    Who knows what the assistant coaches box was watching if NBC apparently aired the replay in the booth.

    • Luke on said:

      Wow, an intelligent Raven fan. Unthinkable! There is no blame for that failed challenge on Harbaugh. That is all on whoever is supposed to communicate to him from the booth.

  5. John on said:

    Why are you always such a pessimist? I remember a few years back, you thought that the Ravens should bench Flacco for Marc Bulger. Do you really think that you know a single thing better than the Ravens’ coaches? By the way, Michael Huff can play cornerback, so he provides some depth that you haven’t considered. Regardless, what additional cornerback would you suggest having on the team?

  6. Jimmy Dundalk on said:

    Funny what this team looks like when you get rid of all the tough guys,,,,,,,,,,,are these guys “mighty men” , I hardly think so,,,,,,,,,,you are right Tony , we will see the real Harbaugh now that he has ‘his guys’ to coach and play………hang on people , it may be a long season…………

  7. Jimmy Dundalk on said:

    After reading everything on your site Tony , I have figured it out,,,,,,,,,Harbs thought this was still pre-season and played his ‘twos’ most of the game,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  8. Tiger Frank Burris on said:

    Its the end of the world after one game….. really dumb article if you ask me. Remember last year as well? That’s what I thought.

    • Jimmy Dundalk on said:

      Boy do I agree with you,,,,,,,,it was fun watching Boldin catch twelve passes for over 200 yards,but it also made me sick we don’t have him,,,,,,,,,I think Ozzie stocked his beloved defense at the sake of the offense , bad move , although Tony will disagree with me………..

      • carmen fee on said:

        is there anyone we could get to come close to performing like boldin? maybe T..O HAS A LITTLE LEFT. I hope not the set up for another 13 year wait for another superbowl..I’M 69 YEARS OLD..

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