Reality: The Baltimore Ravens had six rushing yards Sunday.
Ravens had six yards rushing today. Six. That's the fewest in franchise history.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) October 23, 2016
Perception: Ravens fans can’t blame Marc Trestman any more. Marty Mornhinweg was brought in to fix the offense and to do that, most expected he would run the ball more.
The Ravens are 26th in the NFL in rushing yards and tied for 25th in the league in rushing attempts. Meanwhile, they are 14th in the NFL in passing yards but FIRST in the league in passing attempts.
Why are the Ravens leading the league in pass attempts?
Joe Flacco has a strong arm, but the Ravens offense has never been a passing offense, no matter how much Brian Billick or John Harbaugh may have wanted it to be. This team has been built around a top defense and an offense that does not turn the ball over.
Sure, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman were brought in to air it out, but that should be a couple plays a game. Flacco should not be passing as much as he is (44 times last week and 48 times two weeks ago). That is just not smart play calling. You can’t blame it on “playing from behind,” because during the past two games in New York they either had the lead or were down less than one score, and they’ve had a 10-0 lead three times in their last five games.
Running back Terrance West has said that he gets better the more he gets the ball in a game, and he has proven that this season. So feed the freakin’ beast! And now the Ravens have Kenneth Dixon back, so there is no reason not to use two good backs.
If they keep passing, then you have to stop blaming the OC and start blaming his boss.
Reality: Head Coach John Harbaugh and Quarterback Joe Flacco have accepted criticism for the poor start to the season.
Ravens issues start at the top. Newsome, Harbaugh and Flacco are not without criticism.
— Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) October 23, 2016
Perception: Sure, the offense hasn’t played well. Sure, the defense has struggled at times. Sure, there are injuries hurting this team. But sometimes there are other factors.
This is hard for me to say, because I am the guy who blames the guys playing, not the coaches. The guys on the field are getting paid too much money to have a coach fired when the players don’t perform. But I have a lot of questions this year.
Harbaugh’s game management has already been scrutinized, so I don’t need to rehash that. I criticized Flacco in this column last week. He deserves any criticism that he is getting. He is paid too much money to be making rookie mistakes and showing terrible techniques.
But at some point, the Great and Powerful Oz has to take some criticism. He is and has been the best GM in football, hands down. However, did that go to his head? He has missed a lot of draft picks in the last few years. But more importantly to me is the lack of depth his has provided this team each year in free agency. The Ravens have struggled in the secondary for a couple of years, but, outside of Eric Weddle, what have they done to improve it?
The offensive line is a problem area that everyone knew about, but, outside of drafting Ronnie Stanley (who is injured), what has Ozzie done to help? Only leave it up to a bunch of 3rd stringers to start for his team.
And let’s not even talk about Wide Receivers, because that has been a failure since the turn of the century.
The guys in the player development office need to step up their game, but the Ravens also need to improve at bringing in better guys to fill out their roster with quality depth.
Reality: The Ravens are only one game out of 1st Place in the AFC North.
Perception: Crazy, huh? The Ravens take on the 1st place (4-3) Steelers in Week 9, after both teams have a bye in Week 8. For all the issues, the fact that the Ravens still have a chance to lead the division is amazing.
Many fans might say, in the words of Jim Mora, “Playoffs?!” and think that there is no use in talking about playoffs with a team that has so many flaws. But those fans would be forgetting the 2000 season. Don’t you remember the team that started 5-4 and changed their quarterback deep into the season? Don’t you remember the team that did not score an offense touchdown for five straight games?
Or what about the 2012 season? The team that had a ton of injuries and struggled defensively to start the season. The team that fired their offensive coordinator after a three-game losing streak.
Those flawed teams went on to win the Super Bowl.
I’m not saying this year’s team will win the Super Bowl, but this team has struggled to score (no offensive TDs this past Sunday), has struggled with injuries, and has fired their offensive coordinator. The Ravens have overcome all of these issues before (albeit perhaps not all in the same season).
This bye has come at a good time as they need an extra week to heal up and give Mornhinweg an extra week with the offense. But Week 9 at home against the Steelers is pretty much their season. Without a win, you might as well turn your attention toward the 2017 draft.