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Crab’s Claws Loom Large in Loss

Baltimore Ravens/Phil Hoffmann
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Breshad Crabtree.

It seems like this team needs to show up on every side of the ball, in order to win. Weird, right?

Baltimore walks away with a couple of dog bites, losing to the Browns in overtime, 12-9. They fell into the trap, and couldn’t get out of their own way enough to climb out.

Let’s take a look at what happened on Sunday.

The Good

Ugly, ugly loss. Nobody is disputing that. However, it’s silver lining time.

Alex Collins of the Ravens carries the ball.

The run game finally got going.. kind of. Alex Collins led the team with 59 rushing yards on 12 attempts – a 4.9YPC day. Javorius Allen added 34 more yards on the ground on eight attempts, posting a 4.2YPC average of his own. Yes, it was against the 22nd-ranked run defense in the league, but it was behind the 31st-ranked run blocking line, leaving the hope that the run game may be useful down the stretch, especially against the not great defenses that the Ravens will face after the bye.

Willie Snead continues showing why he’s underrated. I said more than once that Snead may be the most underrated signing that the Ravens made this past off-season, and I’m happy to say that he’s been proving me right. He caught 5-of-7 targets for 55 yards on Sunday, and was open on at least three other passes (that instead got forced to John Brown) that I can think of, including one on the drive that ended in the game-tying field goal. Whether it’s finding the soft spot in coverage, yards after the catch, or simply sure hands, Snead has shown his worth in Baltimore. Use him more.

Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Defense, defense, defense. The defense was not to blame for this loss. They held up their end of the deal, and provided good field position multiple times, but the offense couldn’t capitalize on it (shades of early 2017.) Anthony Levine showed why he is a swiss army knife, Tony Jefferson took one step closer to living up to his contract, and the secondary as a whole locked onto their assignments, for the most part. The front end did what they could to stifle the No. 2 rushing attack in the league, and for the most part, they did it well.

The Bad

John Harbaugh and Marty Mornhinweg look on from the sideline.

Offensive playcalling. I don’t know why Joe Flacco threw the ball 56 times against a secondary that was playing at a decently high level, in a game that was never separated by more than six points. I don’t know why Marty Mornhinweg decided that running just 24 times when the score was close the entire game, was a smart decision, especially when the backs were averaging 4.9/4.2 YPC. I don’t know why every other play seemed like a ‘Smokey’ play, when he was being blanketed. But that’s how it went. The offense reverted to a spectacularly bad version of itself.

Joe Flacco. As if the playcalling wasn’t bad enough, Flacco wasn’t good either. He completed a hair over 51% of his passes, albeit dealing with drops from Breshad Perrim… nope.. Michael Crabtree. He tried to force a would-be touchdown into the hands of Nick Boyle, resulting in a red zone interception, and it was at that point that my heart knew that this game was over. Do something, Joe. If Marty isn’t doing what needs to be done, it is on you, the franchise quarterback, to audible into something that will work.

Special Teams. Once again, Justin Tucker had a kick blocked. Once again, it wasn’t his fault. If I’m Jerry Rosburg, I am pissed.

Buck Allen fumbled. Are fumbles contagious? This has to stop. There have now been fumbles by running backs in back-to-back weeks, and both in crucial situations.

Penalties. Granted, the Ravens didn’t have too many penalties over the course of the game, but the few that they did have were huge, bringing back plays that would have put them in position to win. Were there some iffy calls? Sure, maybe. But overall, you can’t blame the refs – that’s not the response of a winning mentality. Instead, we circle back around to the playcalling, Joe Flacco, and..

The Ugly

I’m only putting one thing in this category, this week, and then I’m ranting about it.

Michael Crabtree lunges for a pass as a Browns defender grabs him.

Michael Crabtree. What are you doing, man?! Not catching the ball, that’s for sure.

In my Chicken Box Friday column, I touched on Crab’s drops. Little did I know how prescient those words would be.

Ghost (Breshad Perriman) had four drops last season. Four. Crabtree has eight in five games. Yes, he’s made some catches that have helped out, and yes, he led the team, statistically, against the Browns – but think how much help he would be if he didn’t drop two crucial passes, including the would-be game-winning touchdown.

Crabtree has dropped over 17% of his targets thus far. That’s 1.6 drops a game (assuming the eigh-drop figure is correct), and puts him on pace for over 25 drops for the season, assuming the pace continues, and he gets the extrapolated 153+ targets. The scary part is, his drops are starting to increase. Harbs and Co. are not going to be able to justify putting a guy on the field who is catching just 52% of his targets, but dropping 17% of targets, and is the third leading receiver on the team.

Yes, that’s right. Both John Brown and Willie Snead have better catch percentages, and more production, than Michael Crabhands.

This from the guy who Flacco thought was going to be ‘the man’.

John Harbaugh said that he wanted receivers who could catch the ball, and Crabtree has failed to do that eight times, six of which were missed conversions or scores. It’s unacceptable, and they can’t make the same mistake that they made with the aforementioned Perriman – too many chances will doom this team in the end. This offense is still lacking a big, sure-handed receiver, and thanks to Crabtree’s struggles, it doesn’t look like that will change this year.

Crabtree, admittedly, took the blame on his shoulders, as he should have, and I respect him for doing it. He said if it takes him catching 2,000 passes a week, then he’ll do it (just don’t drop 17% of them).

But for me, I think it’s time for more Chris Moore. Let’s see what the kid is about.

The Megan Fox

Old School

Is there even somebody deserving of the award, this week? Nobody really stood out, if we’re being objective.

I guess the closest thing to it, would be Anthony Levine, Sr. For a second week in a row, he was all over the field, and made an impact which doesn’t show up in the box score. He made some big boy tackles, and had a crucial pass breakup, as well.

For lack of a better option, Levine gets the Megan Fox award for the week.

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