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Good, Bad, & Ugly: Lack of Adjustments, Collapses, #AndFootball

Rashod Bateman vs Bills
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Every so often a loss comes around that tells you the unfortunate truth of exactly where your football team stands. One that isn’t decided by officiating (yes, there were bad calls in crucial moments on Sunday, but they did not define the game) or any other circumstance other than that your team just isn’t very good. For the Baltimore Ravens, that loss came yesterday courtesy of the Buffalo Bills.

Now, is it time to throw in the towel on the whole year? Of course not, the NFL season is a long one where teams routinely reshape their identities along the way. As of right now though, the Ravens are an incomplete football team, one that’s incapable of putting together 60 consistently strong minutes in all three facets of the game. Every week so far when one or two of those are firing on all cylinders, you can bet that the other(s) will be there to blow it in short order. It’s immensely frustrating, and that angst is undoubtedly shared amongst the entire Ravens flock.

So with all that said, let’s get into this week’s good, bad, and ugly to see where it all went wrong.

THE GOOD

SCORCHING START

Sunday’s game began as perfectly as it possibly could have for the Ravens. On the Bills’ opening drive, Josh Allen would throw an interception to Marlon Humphrey in just three plays, after almost tossing one the play prior. It would quickly be followed up by a short J.K. Dobbins touchdown that had the foundations of M&T Bank Stadium shaking on a rainy afternoon. Two more first half touchdowns and a field goal to go along with an Odafe Oweh strip of Devin Singletary had the Ravens in perfect position to close out the Bills and emerge victorious on Sunday.

It’s exactly the type of start you love to see, and one that we’ve become accustomed to seeing this year so far. The only problem with that is, there are four quarters in a football game, not two, not three. Nonetheless, it’s promising to see what this team can be capable of even if it’s yet to be followed through for a complete 60 minutes.

RUSHING ATTACK CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Over the last two weeks since the return of JK Dobbins, the Ravens rushing attack has looked completely different than it did in the first two games of the year when Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis led the charge. Ironically enough though, the strongest runner in those games has been Justice Hill, with Dobbins slowly continuing to get his legs back underneath him and showing more promise with each passing week in his own right.

21 carries for 86 yards out of the backfield isn’t exactly the record breaking rushing attack of 2019, but given how dreadful it looked to start the year, we’ll take that with a smile on our faces. Hill would unfortunately go on to leave the game injured in the 4th quarter after a strong 16-yard run. We weren’t given any indication of the severity after the game, but hopefully it’s not something that will knock him out long term. He and Dobbins are both going to be crucial to helping the Ravens close out games this year…if that’s something they have any interest in doing going forward, that is.

THE BAD

IS HE OR ISN’T HE?

With Rashod Bateman making his first start in Week 4 of last year, we’re officially a full 16 games into his career. I’m old enough to remember when that constituted a full season! Jokes aside, in those 16 games he has 57 catches for 758 yards and three touchdowns. On Sunday, after a performance in New England the week prior where his most memorable play was a fumble, he was nowhere to be found yet again. Every time it seems as if the breakout may finally be coming after a really nice game or two, he pulls a Houdini, and not in the electric Lamar Jackson sense.

For a guy who was drafted to be the CONSISTENT number 1 outside target for his quarterback, Bateman has failed to live up to the moniker so far. That may ruffle some feathers in the fanbase, but if those stats constitute a true #1 wide receiver to you then God bless. We’ve undoubtedly seen WR1 flashes from him, but we can say the same about the guy the Ravens traded to Arizona a few months back.

Without even mentioning the true heavy hitters like Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, when you think of some of the more consistently good #1’s out there, can you honestly put Bateman alongside them? I’ll leave you to ponder that.

HE ISN’T

Unfortunately, the inconsistency just mentioned about Rashod Bateman can also be said for middle linebacker Patrick Queen. For the second time this season we saw him drop what would’ve been a massive, emphasis on MASSIVE, yet easy interception that would’ve completely turned the tides back in the Ravens’ favor. He would also be caught completely out of position on Josh Allen’s touchdown run just a bit later on. Allen caught him flat footed as Queen for some reason completely committed to stopping the running back instead of the biggest rushing threat on their team.

After a strong Week 1 in New York, Queen has quickly reverted back to the player we questioned nonstop throughout his first two years in the league. At this point it feels like we know what he is and what he’s going to be, what it really comes down to is how long the Ravens can continue to put up with it.

THE UGLY

CONTINUING A TREND

Does it feel to anyone else like the Ravens coaching staff has a bit of a tough time adjusting? That’s a rhetorical question by the way. For the third week in a row now we’ve seen the Ravens get out to a lead against their opponents, be it early in the game or early in the second half, only to allow them right back into things. We all remember Miami, and even the New England game was filled with way more late drama then it should’ve been. Now, we have this, where the second Buffalo scored to make it a 10-point game before the half we all knew what was coming.

The offense goes stagnant, the defense becomes Swiss cheese, and all the while we’re left trying to wonder how a team could look so drastically different throughout the course of one game. It’s not like guys just forget how to play football all of a sudden, so what else could it be?

The eye test tells me that it usually aligns with the second things start to go off script. When the Ravens are allowed to stay on schedule the entire game, we get performances like the one we saw in New York. When the pressure starts to mount though, it feels like at every turn the coaches make the wrong decision and dig the hole deeper late in games. Sure, analytics and stuff are cool, but how many times can they be stopped on 4th down or at the goal line before you realize it’s just not working?

Between that, and how for the third week in a row offenses seem to figure out Mike Macdonald’s defense and exploit it massively in the second half, you just have to wonder what’s going to change for this team.

If the answer is nothing, prepare for a long year.

THE MARGOT ROBBIE

We’ll keep this one short, because honestly after another 2+ score lead being blown at home, none of the players deserve this award. Instead, this week’s MVP is you, Ravens Flock. The ones who were out in those stands yesterday cheering your heads off in horrendous conditions, just for the team to let you down in embarrassing fashion for the second time in three weeks.

Some may call the flock spoiled, but I like to think of it as having a high standard of consistency. The “at least they aren’t as bad as ___” mindset is one of losers, and it’s not one that we accept. The folks who pack the stadium every week spend their hard earned money to enjoy exciting football and wins, not an hour of hope followed by two and a half more filled with an ominous foreboding sense of dread. The Ravens have now lost their last five home games, and if they don’t stop doing it in such a demoralizing way, they may eventually lose the ones who help keep the lights on too.

WRAP UP

Well, once again we find ourselves saying “Thank God that’s over,” something that’s becoming far too consistent of a trend in Baltimore over the last year. The vibes are not good right now, but a Sunday night encounter with the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend could provide the shot in the arm this team needs as we really get into the meat of the season.

Here’s hoping next week’s post-mortem discussion is a much more positive one. Have a great week, Ravens flock.

3 Responses

  1. John Harbaugh has gotten a lot of credit for the Ravens record during his 14 years here, but he was blessed with a great QB who showed his true ability when it counted most, particularly in his spectacular record tying/setting SB run to an MVP win as a Wild Card team when he was literally on his own following Cam Cameron’s firing! He has been equally fortunate enough to follow with a highly talented QB who has won a lot of games in the regular season only to fall short in the postseason! Now, the chickens have come home to roost as his legendary consistent game day ineptitude continues to cost his team games even at home where they currently have lost 5 straight! Count me among those who believe that this team will never win another SB under his leadership, but if there’s a HOF for winningest coaches in preseason, he’s a shoe-in! Time for change……

    1. Mid-season replacement for coachJohn with who … GRow?!? Yikes!!! Ain’t happen’.

      Re teams that can “figure out” MM’s – some teams probably figured out RayLewis/EdReed led defenses too. AND YET …

      This team may be suffering from Pre-season Champ’s hangover (an affiction similar to SuperBowl hangover)!

      BTW, there are no gimmee games on the schedule anymore. IF CINN plays even close to the way they did last year – look out below.

      Maybe LJ has not signed is that he wants out.

      1. How ‘bout Sean Payton? I’d take him over Harbaugh in a heartbeat! LJ was vocal last year before his injury about the slow starts on offense, so he could be disenchanted! I wouldn’t blame him……

Comments are closed.

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