Eisenberg: Don't Get Carried Away With Worry; 3-0 A Wonderful Place To Be


It isn't exactly going out on a limb to opine that the Ravens are 3-0 with a lot to work on.

Their record is a matter of fact – remember those? – and it's no secret they need to drill deep into some problem spots if they want to keep winning. Anyone watching their games knows their running game has sputtered, their offense has been streaky and they've been sloppy with the ball, committing three turnovers in the fourth quarter alone Sunday in Jacksonville.

The issues they've exhibited while winning games by six, five and two points have been glaring enough that I'm seeing quite a bit of hand-wringing on social media and Internet boards.

I get it, but I wouldn't get too carried away with lamenting, well, anything. A team that is "3-0 with a lot to work on" is in an enviable place.

I'd even call it a wonderful place.

It beats "2-1 and looking good" … beats it by a full game in the standings, I do believe.

It beats "1-2 with promise," an oh-so-precarious position that invariably leads to disappointment.

It certainly beats "0-3 but better than that, or so they think," which was the Ravens' situation exactly a year ago, and cough, not one that worked out well.

The only situation that beats it is "3-0 with absolutely nothing to work on," and sorry, that doesn't exist. Here in late September, before the leaves have changed, EVERY team has things to work on – issues that could cause problems if they aren't addressed.

No, 3-0 teams aren't excluded. Look at the others besides the Ravens. The Minnesota Vikings are ranked No. 31 in the league in offense. The Denver Broncos are also in the bottom half of the league in offense, tied for No. 21. The New England Patriots are in the bottom half in defense. The Philadelphia Eagles have looked great, but they're starting a rookie quarterback and praying it doesn't become an issue.

Every other team has done enough wrong to lose at least once.

While sweating it out against opponents with a combined 1-8 record, the Ravens have relied on a strong defense, a veteran quarterback and a great kicker – an identity that can carry you far, by the way. They've turned potential losses into wins with a big-play knack that was absent from their arsenal in 2015.

The end result is so important that it checkmates any and all concerns about HOW the Ravens got there. Since 1990, 76 percent of the teams that started 3-0 have made the playoffs including the Ravens in 2006 and 2009.

Yes, they have a lot to work on, but tackling their to-do list with such a high-percentage head start is a significant boon to their prospects. With a few more wins in the coming weeks, they'd give themselves a margin for error as their schedule significantly toughens down the stretch.

To be clear, the fact that they're 3-0 guarantees nothing. The last time they won their first three games, they lost their next three. It became a struggle to make the playoffs.

But by the same token, the fact that the Ravens haven't looked great doesn't mean they're going to play that way for the rest of 2016. The season is still young, and if you haven't noticed, things tend to change dramatically from week to week in the NFL.

Who knows what lies ahead? I'm pretty sure no one had the Pittsburgh Steelers losing by 31 points Sunday. But that surprising wipeout doesn't mean the Ravens' division rivals are goners. You watch, they'll bounce back and by December no one will remember their Philadelphia debacle.

The mantra for all NFL teams is "move on, try to get better," regardless of how last week's game turned out. The Ravens certainly aren't just going to sit around bemoaning their problems, the biggest of which, I believe, is their running game. They're going to try to correct those problems. They're hoping the pending return of injured rookie back Kenneth Dixon gives the ground game a boost, and a shuffle on the offensive line wouldn't shock me.

To reiterate, it's still early – so early that teams are still trying to meld their various parts into a whole. That goes for 3-0 teams as well as 0-3 teams, and all those in between. But boy, the 3-0 teams sure are the happiest, with good reason.

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