Week 5 was… well, it’s done. I don’t want to relive it. You don’t want to relive it.
But we’re going to anyway because there’s no such thing as failure – just learning and growth… unless we’re talking about Michael Crabtree‘s hands, in which case failure is a legitimate explanation.
On the Ravens failure in Cleveland…
1. How many people will blame Joe Flacco for this loss?
More than a handful, but they’d be wrong. First of all, let’s talk about the “he never should’ve thrown 56 passes!” argument. That’s all fine and good to fight for, if the game was over in regulation, but Joe threw 48 times before OT. Essentially the “Joe is 2-10 when he throws 50+ times” argument (it’s something like that, I could be wrong) is BS because of the OT.
What are they supposed to do? Stop throwing it in bonus football time, simply because his record says so? Should he have thrown less? I don’t believe so… maybe a handful less times at best. That said, I believe that the play calling for the passing game should’ve been more creative, but I don’t think the run game is as good as you think (I’ll get there).
2. Michael Crabtree has bad hands.
There’s no way around it. He led the NFL in drops coming into this week, he pulled away even further after Sunday, and this is a HUGE issue. Hands aren’t a teaching thing, and a 30+ veteran isn’t suddenly going to gain focus when it’s been an issue his whole career.
The simple answer? Stop throwing to him, especially in clutch situations.
The reality? Teams now realize John Brown is Flacco’s go-to, they’ll focus on him in the passing game, and force Flacco to find another target, in hopes he keeps throwing to our latest incarnation of Mark Clayton, Lee Evans, Torrey Smith, and Breshad Perriman. Gross.
The silver lining? Crabtree’s three-year deal is really a 1-year gig in disguise (2019 cap hit $9M+, savings $4.7M if cut), so if he keeps this up? Don’t expect him to be around this time next year.
3. I’ll continue to question John Harbaugh as a head coach, and games like this help justify my angst.
During the Harbaugh regime in Baltimore, the Ravens have a propensity to play down to the level of their opponent, and what’s more? They don’t seem to figure out any semblance of an adjustment in those games. It almost feels like you could go through Harbs’ entire career in Baltimore and find a game each year they lost vs a pretty awful team.
You knew I’d do it, didn’t you?
2010: Lost to the Bengals (4-12)
2011: Lost to the Jaguars (5-11) and Seahawks (7-9)
2012: Lost to the Eagles (4-12)
2013: Lost to the Bills (6-10) and Browns (4-12)
2015: Lost to the Browns (3-13), 49ers (5-11), Jags (5-11) and Fins (6-10) (Though these Ravens were of course bad as well)
2016: Lost to the Jets (5-11) and Bengals (6-9-1)
2017: Lost (AT HOME) to the Bears (5-11)
So nothing crazy in 2008 or 2009 at the start of Harbs’ career, and 2014 was legit, but every other season they’ve lost to an inferior opponent. Far too much for my liking. Let’s see if this Browns loss ends up in the same category… (we don’t know yet).
4. Time for a true RB-By-Committee approach.
Much will be made about needing to run the ball more – and it’s true… within reason. Everybody will tout Alex Collins‘ 4.9ypc on 12 carries, and use that as justification for running him more. But can we mention that outside of the single 19-yard big run Collins hit, he averaged 3.6 ypc which is… *checks stats*… well, it’s not great. Same game can be played for Buck Allen – half of his 34 yards came on one run, and the other carries averaged 2.1ypc.
So yea, the run game really isn’t working all that great, now is it?
I’m not here to blame the backs in full – the 31st-ranked run blocking is the bigger issue – but ultimately it’s not working and something needs to be done. John Harbaugh mentioned yesterday that he’d like to see more touches for De’Lance Turner, and I for one agree. Collins clearly isn’t carrying the load (although he is fumbling it), Buck Allen is a catch-first back, and something needs to change.
Why not give Turner a shot? After all, that ‘let’s shake it up’ mentality is what led to Collins’ emergence last year…
5. The ST Blocks MUST stop.
On the season, the Ravens have seen two field goals blocked and a punt blocked, and entirely too much pressure put on the legs of Koch/Tucker to get kicks off quickly or suffer the same fate. And really, it’s not like there’s one guy we can pinpoint on the Ravens ST unit that’s allowing the pressure – it’s coming from everywhere! Alas, the one unit of the Ravens that has remained one of the best in the league for eons (you can argue the return game lacked, but punting and kicking has been top-three annually under Jerry Rosburg) suddenly looks like one of the worst.
How do they fix it?
I surely don’t know, but teams are pinning their ears back knowing they can disrupt a huge factor for the Ravens (imagine if that Tucker FG isn’t blocked Sunday) and change the course of a game. Adding Cyrus Jones back to the roster is helpful for the return game, but unless he’s chipping that free defender en route to Tucker/Koch?
This unit will keep on struggling. Fix it, Jerry. Now.
Around the NFL…
6. Calvin Ridley came back to Earth.
After a stretch of 2 games where Ridley played out of his skull, he went toe to toe with a superior D… just kidding it was the lowly Steelers, and they held Ridley to a mere four catches for 38 yards. Am I saying Ridley isn’t as good as his Week 3 & 4 numbers show?
You’re damn right I am! I do think he’ll do well in the NFL, just not WR1 material, and I will forever argue that he’s was a reach in the draft (do you take a WR2 in Round One when there’s 10 others out there to be had in R2-4? Nah.)
7. FaLOLcons lose again.
Speaking of the Steelers/Falcons game, Atlanta lost another one. They’re 0-2 vs the AFC North, and 1-4 on the year. In a division with the Panthers (3-1), Saints (4-1) and even the Bucs (2-2), I’m not sure how Atlanta recovers and makes up lost ground here. Yes, it’s still early and there are 11 games to go, but they still have to face Baltimore, Green Bay, Carolina, Tampa (x2), New Orleans, and Washington.
Not saying they lose every game here, but even a 50-50 split puts them at 7 or 8 losses, and that’s not going to cut it in the NFC South. Sorry, Matty Ice. You can start working on that sunburn a little earlier this year.
8. Congrats to Drew Brees!
Drew Brees officially broke the NFL Passing Yards record last night, topping the crazy record set by Peyton Manning (71,940 yards). Of course, they had to find a way to incorporate Manning into the event, by adding a little ‘congrats’ video, showing Manning chopping tomatoes and giving Brees a half-hearted kudos because it took the last thing Manning had… I don’t know man. Let Brees just have his moment. Oh, and if you missed it? Here’s’ the mic’d up Brees with his teammates after the pass, and then his family (if you have kids, this video may give you ‘allergies’).
Drew Brees was mic’d up for the moment he made history ?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 9, 2018
9. There’s no ‘O’ in T-E-N-N-E-S-S-E-E-T-I-T-A-N-S.
If you thought the Ravens losing to the Browns was the biggest upset this week, then you didn’t see the Titans lose to the Bills 13-12 on a last second 46-yard field goal by former Raven and Seahawk Steve Hauschka.
The fact that the Titans offense only put up 12 points on the Bills is… well, it’s hilarious. And it got me thinking – I don’t think the Titans offense has done that well this year, have they? So a quick fact check, and yup! They suck!
-29th in ypg
-29th in pass ypg
-17th in rush ypg
-29th in ppg
Yet somehow, they’re 3-2? That happens when your three wins are by a combined nine points.
Regardless, this bodes well for the Ravens defense, that still ranks top five in every one of those categories (3rd in ypg, 4th in pass ypg, 5th in rush ypg, 1st in ppg allowed).
10. Can anybody stop the Chiefs or Rams?
Probably not. The Chiefs took a 30-14 W from the Jags, and the Rams eeked one out versus the Seahawks 33-31. Worth noting: the Chiefs put up 30 on arguably the best defense in the NFL, and the Rams took the W despite Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp concussions in the first half. Both teams have unstoppable offenses starting with Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes under center, while the Rams defense is top notch as well. The only teams that likely stop the top NFC and AFC teams?
The Rams take on the Chiefs November 19th in Mexico City, and it won’t shock me if both are still undefeated coming into this game. Part of me wants to see a tie that night, so we can keep this undefeated trajectory for the remainder of the season as well, but that may be asking far too much…