THE MORNING AFTER: Reaction to Ravens v. Bengals

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Yesterday was one of those games… one of those games that makes you wonder why you do this to yourself every week. It was just an AWFUL football game. I was screaming at my TV so much that I scared my two daughters and my dog, as well as lost my voice!

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Bengals in overtime to extend their season… for now.

They had to win yesterday to even have a chance at making the playoffs and they did that. But they still have a long way to go to get back into the mix to make the playoffs. They remain a game behind the Bengals in the division, but they are still behind the Browns, Titans, Dolphins, and Jets who are all in front of them for the 6th and final playoff spot.

However, this team is so bad offensively, can they even do anything if they make the playoffs?

Right now, this Ravens offensive is worse than the 2000 Ravens!

Yes, that’s the team that went 5 games without scoring an offensive touchdown. But at least that team could run the ball. The Ravens had 85 yards rushing on 30 carries… a 2.8 yards per carry average. But take out Tyrod Taylor’s 18-yard run, and they have 29 carries for 67 yards… simply pathetic.

Yes, you can say that the offensive line is terrible and that’s why they can’t run, and I would agree with you. But the running backs are still to blame. They simply can’t make defenders miss. Ray Rice was a pro at making guys miss in previous years. Yesterday, he had a few times where he was 1-on-1 with a defender and simply ran directly into him. I don’t know what’s wrong with Rice, but he is not the same player this year. Pierce isn’t doing much better than Rice, but better nonetheless.

As we talk about the offense, you need to talk about its leader. Joe Flacco had his worst game of the season. The first scoring drive (the second possession) was all Joe. He underthrew the receiver terribly but at least they ran the play and got the interference call (which they hadn’t done much of this season) to put them down at the 5-yard line. The touchdown pass was well executed by Flacco, as no one was open at all and Joe ran and ran until he found a small hole to squeeze the ball in.

But after that, Joe had very little time to throw and even when he did, he was pressing too hard and making some very bad decisions.

One of those bad decisions was clock management and I put that on Flacco. What was Flacco thinking in the 4th quarter? We can’t run the ball to run out the clock but he could have done his part by not snapping the ball until the clock was under 5 seconds… instead I saw numerous times where the snap had 15, 17, and 16 seconds left on the clock. That is unacceptable when trying to run out the clock.

I really liked what I saw from the Ravens and their play calling in the first quarter. They were pulling out all the tricks, as well as just mixing up the plays to keep the Bengals guessing. The Ravens were extremely creative on offense in the first quarter but what happened? In the 2nd half they went back to what they’ve done the last few weeks. They became very conservative and didn’t try to change up anything. The trickery worked well at keeping the Bengals on their heels early on… so why go away from it?

One of the things that really bugged me at the end of regulation happened on the sidelines.

Who does Jimmy Smith think he is?

Smith was screaming at Ihedigbo on the sidelines after the Hail Mary TD that hit Ihedigbo’s hand and went into AJ Green’s arms for a game-tying touchdown. Jimmy has screwed up a number of times and doesn’t have any right to chew him out in public. And I know everyone is screaming that it was a dumb play and “just knock it down”… but I saw it differently. I think Ihedigbo was trying to block the deflection but the ball hit his hands as he was putting them up and so the ball went up. It was not Ihedigbo’s objective to bat the ball up… it was just bad luck.

At 4-5, the Ravens trail the Bengals (6-4) by just 1.5 games in the AFC North. They, obviously, hold the tie-breaker with them now, and still face them one more time this season.

The Ravens head to Chicago next week. The game is crucial for our overall record, but it’s not a conference game, so a loss doesn’t end their playoff hopes… but it sure won’t help.

They have got to fix their offensive issues if they want to win.

 

GIF courtesy of Gordon Dixon

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

18 Raves on “THE MORNING AFTER: Reaction to Ravens v. Bengals

  1. dave on said:

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for your passion. Hate to be simplistic, but i just don’t think they’re that good. I took a look at the schedule ahead, & was surprised that it does not include teams that would reveal the Ravens for what they are. Thank goodness, the Ravens aren’t in the NFC.

    I really think this game said more about the Bengals as being pretenders than the Ravens lack of ceiling.

    OTOH, being a mediocre .500 team is going to slowdown the necessary rebuild. I really think Tony nailed http://russellstreetreport.com/weve-seen-this-movie-before/ going forward.

      • dave on said:

        You have a lot more problems than being “hip impaired”. Tony wouldn’t like it if i told you “what the hell i mean”.

        Speaking of acronyms i have to assume the “g” stands for GED.

    • Brandon Portney on said:

      I just think the I line is that bad. Rice hasn’t ever really had too notch speed nor has he had top notch breaking tackle ability. He is just ok at both. It was always his excellent vision and his ability to make one or two miss with his small stature. Now his vision is useless because the line isn’t making a whole for him to see. So he’s got to create t on his own and I don’t think he is that type of runner. Not fast enough to just outrun to the edge, not powerful enough to plow up the middle. Just not the right situation for him.

  2. Mr. Oldman on said:

    Joe,
    I’m getting a lot of heat for this opinion, and I know our o line is putrid, but I’m actually starting to think that Ray is pretty much done. I compared his career numbers (college & pro) with Jamal Lewis. I know they are different style runners, but no matter how great a shape you maintain, there’s only so much tread on the tires. In total touches (rush + rec), Jamal leads 3289-2598, but in yards, only leads 15107-13887, which is basically the same as Jamal’s Cleveland career. Ray was way overused at Rutgers (910 touches), and I’m just afraid it’s catching up with him. I truly hope I’m wrong, but just sayin’.

    • Joe Polek on said:

      I have heard that thought, and I can’t say that I disagree. I’m just hoping he’s not 100%. At 26, it would feel a bit like Barry Sanders if he was done already.

      • Paul on said:

        I don’t buy that argument. The world class athlete’s body doesn’t break down from physical strain. That’s what they’re trained to do. Rice is either 1. injured or 2. not motivated to play the game.

    • Ben P on said:

      It seems like it wouldn’t be that hard to figure out how much of this is Ray and how much is the OL. I’d think that all it would take it a lot of film watching. Just ask, for example, what percentage of running plays included a hit in the backfield or at the LOS in 2011-2012 versus in 2013. If the numbers are the same, it’s pretty good evidence that Ray is just folding, which isn’t good news for his future. On the other hand, if he’s getting hit before he has a chance to accelerate or get past the line much more than in the past (my intuition, but I haven’t counted the plays), then we could pretty squarely blame the problems on the OL.

      In the absence of that evidence, I’d still put my money on it being the OL’s fault rather than Ray’s, because we have Pierce as a comparator. Pierce had a “great” day yesterday when he ran for a whopping 3.9 YPC. If neither back can get anything going, it suggests that the problem is more with the line than with the runners behind them.

  3. Michael on said:

    The reason Jimmy was upset w/Ihedigbo was that he was very far out of position. He was supposed to be toward the back of the end zone & moved up too far. Had he been in position, he would’ve boxed out Green & had his 3rd INT. It wasn’t about flailing at the ball, it’s about being out of position. This is something they practice. A lot. And 32 messed it up in a major situation. They were fine after the play & were joking about Jimmy’s passionate speech in the locker room.

    • Candygirl on said:

      I can believe that he was upset that Ihedigbo was out of position but how many games have we seen Jimmy Smith 10 -15 yards behind his man, not in position at all, or just simply getting blown out. Way too many times to count…..

  4. Tucker: M&T Sec 527 on said:

    So wiith you on Joe & the playclock in late 4Q yesterday. First downs would be ideal, but bare minimum you need to not stop the clock and run off the maximum allowable time on each play. He can control that himself, while he can’t control the fact we are playing without an NFL center or NFL LG

  5. Evan on said:

    I’m not getting your criticism of Jimmy. He was far and away the best player in our secondary yesterday, and he was arguably our best defender as a whole. It looked to me like Ihedigbo went out of position to try to intercept the ball, and he deserves to get chewed out for that. There’s no excuse for that in a game as important as this one.

    • Joe Polek on said:

      I agree that Jimmy played well yesterday, as did our entire D. But (without looking at specific numbers), over the last two seasons, I would say that Ihedigbo has played much better than Smith, as a whole.

      I know that they made up and said they were all good in the locker room after the game… but the last thing the team needed at that very moment was for players to be screaming at each other. The game was not over, and they needed to come together and move on.

    • Rob on said:

      I thought Jimmy Smith was way out of line, that’s not how Ravens play, they are a team. Yes he made a bad play but also had a great game overall. What if Ray had treated Jimmy that way for the past 2 years. He has sucked up until this point and has no right to tear down his team.

  6. Raven78 on said:

    Jimmy, who I am usually critical of, played his best ball since the SB. Ihedigbo deserved to be yelled at! The tip drill is practiced almost everyday a DB goes to practice…And they teach you in middle school to bat down a hail marry, don’t try and be a hero.
    Next, the O line is simply bad (but) I don’t get your rationale on one thing. If its still the running backs fault when the line never gets a push — then why is not Flacco’s fault for not moving the ball down the field? I notice week after week that the defenses put 8 or 9 in the box (depending on which side Torrey lines up on). The defenses are committed to stoping the run…. even thought he line is horrible. They know that Flacco is a play-action passer… and the running game will set him up for success. I’m convinced that Joe can make teams respect him and open things up by getting rid of the ball and taking command of the offense (you can tell he wasn’t by his clock management). This will help a bad O-line….run off the pass – not pass off the run.

    • Joe Polek on said:

      I agree that the Ravens (and Joe) need to be more aggressive by throwing down the field more often… that was a huge part of their success last season. Even if it doesn’t work, you are likely to get PI penalties as was the case on Sunday.

      Joe has been disappointing with his accuracy this season. He has under thrown receivers a good amount of times. However… He hasn’t had a lot of time to sit in the pocket and wait for his receivers to get open. The young receivers have struggled to find openings in the defense and Joe has not had the time to wait for them to get open, because the blocking up front isn’t happening.

      Yes, Joe is at fault is some aspects, but if this O-line played like it did in last year’s playoffs, this team is 7-2, not 4-5.

      • John P on said:

        “Yes, Joe is at fault is some aspects, but if this O-line played like it did in last year’s playoffs, this team is 7-2, not 4-5.”

        ^^^ COMPLETELY CORRECT ^^^

        Want to go to the playoffs? Fix the O line. It ain’t rocket science. Ditch the zone-blocking scheme and let’s go!

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