Two weeks ago, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh declared, “We’re in it”, insinuating his team was still in the mix for a 2017 playoff berth. Many laughed. Many mimicked Jim Mora who many years ago sarcastically quipped, “Playoffs? Playoffs?” Me? I wondered what the “it” was.
Yet here we are, NFL Week 11 is in the books and if the season ended today, the Ravens would be the AFC’s sixth-seeded team. They control their own destiny and credit for that goes to the Ravens defense – a defense that chalked up its third shutout of the season.
To put that in perspective, despite the many successes that the Ravens have enjoyed under John Harbaugh, up until 2017, they’ve had only 1 shutout – back on November 16, 2009 when the Ravens blanked the Browns in Cleveland by the score of 16-0. In total the Ravens have pitched shutouts 10 times in the club’s 22-season history prior to 2017. Given their quality of opponents that lie ahead – opponents with a combined (25-35) record, it’s possible that the Ravens could tie their record-setting defense from 2000 when they registered 4 shutouts. The shutout was also the first at Lambeau Field by a Packers opponent since 2006.
Give Joe Flacco some credit for registering a 90.9 passer rating on the road despite a porous offensive line. That touch pass/dime to Mike Wallace for a score to cap the team’s all-important first drive of the second half, put the Ravens up 13-0, a lead that seemed insurmountable for the struggling Will Smith lookalike, QB Brett Hundley…He only averaged 2.5 YPC but without is unwavering effort it could have been much worse. Alex Collins never quits, registering 32.4% of the Ravens offense yesterday at Lambeau. Collins was also Johnny-on-the-Spot when Ryan Jensen sailed a snap over Flacco’s head on the Ravens first possession. Collins recovered at the 50, resulting in a 14-yard loss… Big play from Ben Watson following a short completion to spark the first drive of the second half. Watson had 20+ yards of YAC following the pitch and catch from Flacco…Great one-handed catch from Mike Wallace who despite the lack of explosive play opportunities, remains determined and exhibits a mental toughness that we didn’t know he had prior to arriving in Baltimore.
— NFL (@NFL) November 19, 2017
Michael Pierce had 3 stuffs, including the key stop of Jamaal Williams on 4th and 1 at the Ravens 36 with 1:25 left in the third quarter and the Ravens leading 13-0…Willie Henry’s ascension continued. He had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 hurries and was effective when facing double teams. He may be 2017’s biggest surprise…Terrell Suggs was menacing. He forced Hundley to fumble, recovered by C.J. Mosley at the 6:54 mark of the 4th. He finished with 2 sacks, 1 TFL and 3 hurries. He also diagnosed a screen, disrupted its timing, which paved the way to a Matt Judon sack for a loss of 13…Patrick Onwuasor led the team with 10 tackles, dropped in coverage to help thwart a potential TD toss and he wrestled away a fumble at the Packers 43.
Jimmy Smith’s All Pro season continues. His read on Hundley, dropping off his man and recognizing that the primary was Randall Cobb, was outstanding – thwarting a promising opening drive from the Packers and completely changing the game’s momentum. He also made a key stop of Jamaal Williams, peeling off his man to drop the Packers’ RB for a short gain in the 2nd quarter with the Ravens leading 3-0. It set up a third down and the Ravens held, to force a punt…Marlon Humphrey had 2 passes defensed and added his first career INT. He may have earned the title, “Starter”…The Eric Weddle – Tony Jefferson safety tandem is beginning to develop some momentum. Weddle patrolled centerfield and Dean Pees used Jefferson closer to the LOS where he’s a more effective defender.
Joe Flacco continues to predetermine where he’s throwing the ball based solely upon pre-snap reads. On 2nd and 6 at the Packers 26-yard line at 2:32 mark of the first quarter, the Ravens QB threw into double coverage inside the 5, trying to hit Nick Boyle on a seam route. Fortunately, it wasn’t intercepted. Then at the 7:17 mark of the second quarter, leading 3-0 and facing a first-and-10 at the Packers 24, he tried to hit a very well-covered Danny Woodhead on a wheel route and was easily intercepted by HaHa Clinton-Dix.
Let’s just face it, the Ravens offense is a dinosaur and Marty Mornhinweg fails to make in-game adjustments. The left side of the offensive line was getting destroyed in pass-pro and they did nothing to help James Hurst with chips from the tight ends…At one point the defense had forced 3 turnovers and the offense could only produce 3 points. The Ravens AVERAGE starting field position was their own 47-yard line, they had a +4 turnover-ratio for the game and had 5 drives starting on AVERAGE from the Packers 27 and STILL only managed 23 points. During four of the five drive starting in Green Bay territory the Ravens produced a TOTAL of 19 yards.
On the afternoon, the Ravens tallied 219 net yards of offense against the league’s 24th ranked defense that played about half the game without one of its biggest playmakers – Clay Matthews. To put that in perspective, the 32nd ranked offense (Bengals) averages 265.6 yards per game. The Ravens are the NFL’s 31st ranked offense plodding its way to 279.9 YPG…Brandon Carr struggled during the Packers first series, something quickly recognized by Dean Pees who replaced him with Humphrey. After Carr yielded plays of 17 and 33 yards on the opening drive, Humphrey played the final 49 snaps.
The Ravens offensive line has been a patchwork unit the entire season but up until yesterday’s game, they’ve held up reasonably well, all things considered. Pro Football Focus had them as the 12th ranked offensive line unit in the NFL. That changed yesterday. James Hurst has been serviceable as a guard. As a tackle, he’s a nightmare – a sieve. And his sidekick Luke Bowanko is just a slight upgrade over the 55-gallon trash cans used in 7-on-7 drills. While watching I lobbied to change James’ last name to Hearse because I thought Flacco might soon need one…The snap from Ryan Jensen on the Ravens first possession would have sailed over Manute Bol’s head. Fortunately, Alex Collins was lined up in the backfield with Flacco and helped to preserve the possession.
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD
He now has 5 sacks on the season and continues to make strides as a solid all-around defender. In coverage downfield, he was able to seal the sideline and force Hundley to chuck it out of bounds. He dropped Devante Mays for a 2-yard loss forcing a fumble; he drop Cobb for no gain on a direct snap; and he had two sacks that resulted in a total of 25 negative yards for the Packers. He added 7 tackles and 2 hurries to boot. Matt Judon, you had yourself quite a day!
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 19, 2017
The Ravens are in the playoff race but clearly it has more to do with the inadequacies of the AFC than anything else. They are a team with many deficiencies, particularly on offense. The concern is that they might do just enough to stay in the race, perhaps even have their ticket to the postseason dance punched and that may temporarily mask the many flaws – so much so that owner Steve Bisciotti could allow the same coaching staff to remain intact as-is. And that would be a tactical mistake for the long-term health of the franchise.
But if this video is any indication, the solidarity of the Ravens locker room appears strong and that’s more than you can say about the teams the Ravens are competing with down the stretch, the Bills, Dolphins and Raiders – all dealing with internal strife.
When the Ravens left Lambeau, their plane experienced some issues and their charter was delayed 3 hours. Making matters worse, when they landed in Baltimore, the bus ride to The Castle included some traffic jams as well. Fortunately, the team gets an extra day to recover as they host the Texans on Monday Night Football on November 27.
Bruh we really been stuck in Green Bay for like 3 hours ???????????????????
— Mike Wallace (@Wallace17_daKid) November 20, 2017
According to CBS’ Jason LaCanfora (and I’ve heard this from no one else), Gary Kubiak is interested in returning to the sidelines as an offensive coordinator. Currently he holds a cushy job as the Broncos Senior Personnel Advisor.
Today the Broncos fired OC Mike McCoy.
If LaCanfora is right, why wouldn’t Kubes stay in Denver and be their OC?
Source: The #Broncos have fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 20, 2017
The Ravens host the Texans next Monday and they open as 7 ½ point favorites. Houston defeated the Cardinals 31-21 as QB Tom Savage was 22 of 32 for 230 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT for a passer rating of 97.1.