Ravens Remain an Unsolved Mystery
Just when you think that the Ravens might be a legitimate contender, the first time in over 3 years…
Just when you think that organized chaos had returned…
Just when you think organization had returned to the offense…
Just when you think that the Ravens defense had learned to get off the field on third down…
Just when you think that they have a formidable pass rush…
It all just blows up in the collective face of Ravens Nation on a balmy night along the Ohio River against division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.
From jump street, one team was ready to play and it wasn’t the team in the pretty purple pants – which by the way, they should keep. Like tigers in the jungle on a night prowl, the Bengals showed up ready to play fast, ready to pounce, ready to prey on their feathered friends from the AFC North.
The Ravens were out-coached, out-schemed, out-prepared and essentially outed as frauds because Opening Day against the Bills proved only one thing – that Buffalo is a very bad team. If you didn’t watch this game and simply looked at the stat sheet, whenever a road team throws the ball 55 times and loses the turnover battle 0-3, you needn’t look much further.
Heading into the season and after shaping the roster through free agency and the draft, in my mind the Ravens still had a few questions to address. In no particular order, these were the unsolved mysteries:
1. Who would be the starting center?
2. Can they generate a pass rush?
3. Can the inside linebackers improve their coverage?
4. Who would be the featured return specialist?
5. Will they learn to get off the field in the fourth quarter and protect leads?
After 5 preseason games, an injury and a Jekyll and Hyde regular season performance through two games, all mysteries remain unsolved.
Geno Atkins manhandled the Ravens interior offensive line. He had two sacks, 4 QB hits and was a regular disrupter. Matt Skura isn’t the answer. He’s just a guy. On the flip side, the Ravens sacked Andy Dalton exactly zero times. The Bengals plan was to get the ball out quickly and attack the soft white underbelly of the Ravens defense – the intermediate middle. It worked. And as for the return specialist, be careful when you use the term specialist.
As for the last of the five unsolved mysteries, protecting 4th quarter leads, well the Ravens defense hasn’t been placed in that situation just yet but if last night is an indicator, there’s still work to be done there as well. Just when the team seemed to be mounting a comeback and needed another defensive stand while down 28-23, they failed and the rally, for all intents and purposes was over.
Obviously, there’s still a long way to go in the 2018 season and there’s still plenty of time for the Ravens to prove to us all that they are different than the mediocre team that they’ve run out there on the field since Super Bowl 47. But so far, they just look like a team that can beat teams with bad quarterbacks, just like they were in 2017.
They’ve got 9 more days to lick their cat-inflicted wounds; to figure out what to do if C.J. Mosley misses time; to figure out why their highly paid defensive tackle Brandon Williams was so insignificant against a backup center; to determine if Lamar Jackson is a legitimate offensive threat or just a gimmick and if he’s legit, why is he not involved in two-point conversion attempts.
The next two games should tell us a lot about the 2018 Baltimore Ravens. You do have to admire their valiant comeback effort last night, so maybe there’s something there.
But if the two games played so far are any indication, it’s just the same old, same old from John Harbaugh & Co.