It’s taken me a couple of days to write this (I didn’t start it a couple of days ago, to be clear), because I’m just now coming to grips with the fact that I won’t have meaningful Ravens football again for many moons. For that, I apologize.
But, since we’re here, let’s get into it. Not much went right in the Ravens’ first home playoff game since 2012. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of it.
There is legitimately only one thing that I can put in this spot. One.
Defense. Philip Rivers was held to 160 yards passing. Not a single wide receiver broke 45 yards. No running back went over 40 yards. There was only one offensive touchdown scored by the Chargers. That should’ve been more than enough to win the game.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
The Ravens defense allowed a measly 2.5 YPC average to the running backs. They made stop after stop in crucial situations, including a Peanut forced fumble when the Ravens were down by 12 in the third quarter. Eric Weddle and Jimmy Smith both had seven defensive stops. Peanut had a sack. Marlon Humphrey would’ve had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, had the refs not blown the whistle and ruled otherwise.
This defense deserved better than the offense gave them. They deserved one more victory, at least. So why didn’t they get it?
Let’s find out.
How much time do we have?
Lamar Jackson. The rookie looked like… well, a rookie. He finished with a semi-respectable stat line – 14/29 for 194, and two scores to one interception – but, like I love to point out, stats lie. He had a miserable game, with his success coming in garbage time against a prevent defense. In fact, his game was so bad, that he had negative passing yards in the first half. He was outmatched this week, unable to make anything happen against a Chargers defense that deployed six to seven defensive backs on 58 of their 59 snaps. He fumbled the ball not once.. Not twice.. But three times (ironically enough, he started, and ended the game with fumbles). He also tossed an interception that the Lamar fans want to blame solely on Chris Moore, even though every analyst and reporter has said that the pass was high.
Run game. Everybody knows that this offense runs through… the run game. It was nowhere to be found this week, with no running back breaking 25 yards, after ending the season averaging over 230 yards on the ground through the final seven games. Jackson led the running game, but even he didn’t break 55 yards. The Ravens ran 23 times.. As a team.. The whole game. Oh, and Kenneth Dixon, who I was stupid enough to give credit to the past couple of weeks? Yeah. He fumbled. (That’s four fumbles in one game, for those keeping score at home.)
The Chargers had seen the Ravens offense two weeks prior, and they made the necessary adjustments to counter a simplistic offense. You know who didn’t adjust?
Marty Mornhinweg. Anybody else want to try to convince me that Marty is the best offensive coordinator for Lamar’s offense? I’m here to fight with all of you. Marty called a terrible game. He didn’t add a single new wrinkle, which was the first nail in the coffin against a team that the Ravens had faced just a short time prior. A team who had managed to win 12 games in the regular season, despite crippling injuries. But sure, Marty. Let’s give them the exact same looks they saw then. No way they’d be able to adjust and stop it this time, right? Let’s not help out your rookie QB at all, and see if his young mind can figure out how to pick apart a defense built to counter him.
I (expletive removed) hate this man. Not as a person – I’m sure he’s a very nice guy – but as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator? Absolute, pure, unadultered hatred.
It’s Day 3 (or whenever you’re reading this). Get him the hell out of Baltimore.
And now for the real fun.
The offensive line was.. Offensive. James Hurst got beaten by Melvin Ingram. Then Joey Bosa. Then Melvin Ingram again. Over, and over, and over, Hurst the Worst was in full effect, until he was mercifully replaced by rookie Bradley ‘Booze’ Bozeman.
It wasn’t just Hurst. Orlando Brown, Jr. and Marshal Yanda had acceptable games, to the (drunken) eye test. But from Matt Skura to Ronnie Stanley, the left side of the line was was a New York City turnstile, except there were no cops to beat the ass of whoever jumped it on that particular play.
It was awful. They were dominated from the start, and never really got their feet under them. That being said.. Lamar Jackson had an average of 3.2 seconds from snap-to-pass. His escapability has something to do with that, but it’s still a decent amount of time to make your reads and get rid of the ball. (Something, something, wide receiver separation versus six defensive backs.)
Ahem. Anyway. Moving on.
The Chloe Bennett.
I mentioned this player early on in the article, and I feel very strongly that he had the biggest impact on the game, with seven tackles, a forced fumble, a sack, and multiple pressures, as well as being around the ball the entire game.
I’m speaking, of course, of Patrick Onwuasor. ‘Peanut’, as he is called, is blossoming into quite the player, after an undrafted start to his career. In a time of flux for Baltimore, at least at the WLB position, Peanut has shown that he can be a fairly consistent fill in, and he came through big in this game.
While the Ravens offense had struggled mightily up to this point, the defense had held its own, and the Chargers only had 12 points on the board, all field goals. Enter Peanut. Not today, said the ILB, as he caused his second forced fumble in as many games against the Chargers.
Alas, the offense being what it was, they did nothing with it, and he had to watch as his hard work went unnoticed.
Maybe this award cheers him up a bit. Perhaps not. He’s getting it anyway. (These articles really made me realize how much of a defensive guy I actually am. I think I hate the new offense-based NFL.)
Well, boys and girls.. That’s uh.. That’s it. No more Good, Bad, and Ugly articles until next season. I will however, be doing The Chicken Box, scouting reports and draft articles. So, it’s a trade-off.
You can’t get rid of me that easily.
Just call me Marty.