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Coaches Struggle in Cincinnati

Marty Mornhinweg and John Harbaugh on the sideline.
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The Ravens were brought back to earth in last night’s game against the Bengals.

One week after some fans and media discussing how good the Ravens could potentially be in 2018, the team showed some familiar reasons why they have a 41-41 record since winning the Super Bowl in 2012.

There’s plenty of blame to go around following the underwhelming performance.

Joe Flacco was inaccurate, missing wide open receivers, including on some critical third downs that would have extended drives.

The defense came out flat and ill-prepared, which put the team in a huge early hole.

But John Harbaugh’s decision making, Marty Morhinweg’s play calling and Wink Martindale’s inability to make adjustments to make Andy Dalton uncomfortable were nothing short of pathetic.

The Ravens’ fourth down gambles near midfield continue to be a problem and reek of desperation.

Midway through the third quarter, the Ravens finally captured the momentum in the game. However, Harbaugh gave it right back to the Bengals, by gambling on a 4th and 2, bypassing what would have been a 56-yard field goal (after Justin Tucker had just nailed a 55-yarder) that would have made it a one-score contest. The Ravens were able to force a punt on the ensuing Bengals possession but it was a mind-numbing decision nonetheless.

Then, after the Ravens scored to bring the game within five points, Harbaugh elected to go for two with nearly 10 minute remaining. Chasing points at that juncture is just plain stupid. The chances of the Ravens scoring exactly three points and the Bengals scoring none for the remainder of that game was miniscule, especially considering the flow of that game.

Lastly, the Ravens spent their final possession simply dumping off passes. They needed two scores and were within field goal range. They needed to kick the field goal and go for an onside kick to give themselves any semblance of a chance.

Even though it’s Week 2, Harbaugh appears to be a coach who knows he’s on the hot seat. Any one of these decisions alone is frustrating to watch, but combine them all together in a half it’s hard not to question Harbaugh’s overall competency and his ability to put his team in the best position to win a game.

Marty Mornhinweg reminded us all why we were flabbergasted when Harbaugh said he was going to retain him going into this season. Abandoning the run halfway through the second quarter, allowing tight ends to block elite pass rushers twice their size, and a total lack of creativity on play calling were all back in full force.

Not to mention the Ravens’ complete mismanagement of Lamar Jackson.

I was all for the Ravens trading back into the first round and taking him and I still am. But they need to find a more effective way to use him or just let him sit on the bench and learn behind Flacco, who is clearly not happy with the situation (it’s obvious by his literal lack of movement on plays designed for Jackson). So don’t use those plays when Flacco is in a groove. There were times in yesterday’s game where Flacco was marching down the field and the Ravens suddenly decided to run a wildcat play featuring Jackson.

Jackson’s ability to dance around for three yards isn’t worth disrupting the flow of an effective drive.

Don “Wink” Martindale was simply out-coached by his counterpart on the Cincinnati sideline. The Bengals knew they had a shoddy right side of their offensive line so they made constant adjustments to keep Dalton upright. The fact that the Ravens had zero sacks and Dalton on most dropbacks had time to brush his teeth (and smile big for the cameras), makes evident the Bengals were better prepared entering the game and making adjustments at halftime.

Players seem to like Wink and his approach. Let’s just hope his learning curve isn’t too steep and the Ravens defense pays the price because of it.

The offense deserves credit for keeping the Ravens in the game and making some big plays when it needed to. The defense rebounded after a disastrous start.

When it comes to the coaching, though, it’s hard to find any sort of silver lining.

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