The End of the Road?

Street Talk The End of the Road?

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The Baltimore Ravens head into the bye week determined to fix their shortcomings on offense.

Publicly, the coaches and players express optimism they can turn things around and still make a playoff run over the final seven games of the season.

However, recent history says otherwise.

The Ravens simply do not have enough playmakers to impact a game. That weakness has been consistently evident each week.

How poorly did the offense perform against the Titans?

Punter Sam Koch produced the biggest play of the game with a 16-yard pass to Chris Moore. That trick play was extended an additional 15 yards for a face mask penalty. Still, Baltimore only managed a field goal.

The Ravens set themselves up to fail by making quarterback Joe Flacco attempt 52 passes. Baltimore is 0-7 when he tries to throw that much.

Flacco is susceptible to making mistakes, especially when he throws off his back foot. He had a pair of interceptions against the Titans and the Ravens have yet to win a game this season when he throws that many.

Flacco appears determined to play better over the final stretch. However, there are no reinforcements on their way to boost the roster. The Ravens are 4-5 and that record is a true indicator of how they’ve played this season. They need to win five or six of their final seven games to make the playoffs.

That is a daunting challenge.

“Well, listen, we had already put ourselves in a position to have to win a lot of games down the stretch,” Flacco said. “And, even though this was a big one, we’re really in no different position coming down the stretch. We have seven games left and we have a lot of opportunities to win football games. We just got to keep our head down.

“I’ve been in this league long enough; you know anything can happen coming down the stretch. Things can start clicking for you, but we need to win football games and we need to make it happen on our side of the ball. We need to go out there and have some energy and really start bringing the fight to us a little bit.”

The performance of Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman, underscores the struggles of the offense. This was supposed to be a breakout season for Perriman, especially with how well he played in offseason workouts.

Instead, there is talk he might be the worst first-round pick in franchise history. There is some speculation Perriman might be injured. If that’s the case, the Ravens should not have targeted him seven times against the Titans.

Perriman could not haul in another long pass from Flacco. He also had another pass deflect off of him that turned into costly interception. Perriman has seven catches for 54 yards this season, and has yet to score a touchdown.

It appeared the Ravens prioritized getting Perriman the ball to get him out of his doldrums. That plan backfired.

However, coach John Harbaugh denied the team put a special emphasis on getting Perriman the ball.

“I think he came up in the progressions and[ [Flacco] is going to find the right guys in the progressions,” Harbaugh said. “We want to get guys involved. We want to get Breshad involved, we want to get Mike (Wallace) involved, we got (Jeremy) Maclin involved quite a bit and we want to do that.”

If the Ravens want to have any chance at making the playoffs, the defense will have to forge that path. The Ravens have played better against the run over the past two weeks and the secondary is capable of making plays.

Now, the team just has to execute. The players are holding out hope for a turnaround.

“You are never out of it until you are out of it. We are a confident group,” safety Eric Weddle said. “Once we start clicking on all three phases, we are a tough team to beat. We just have to get to that point. We still believe in each other, it’s a team game. Anyone can make a run, it happens every year.

“Why can’t it be us? We have seven games to go. I feel like we have to win out and that is the goal. Let the run happen and let the story be about us and the magical run that we had. Why can’t it be us? That’s our focus right now.”

Time, though, is running out.

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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