Eisenberg: Ravens Aren't the Only NFL Team With Issues


If the Ravens' last two games have convinced you the sky is falling, I'm not going to try to talk you out of being Chicken Little.

I don't have time. I've got other things going on. I'm sitting here trying to come up with my five favorite Tom Petty songs.

But I will go ahead and point out something I discovered while perusing the standings earlier this week:

Only four teams in the AFC have NOT lost at least two games.

That's right, we're only four weeks into the 2017 season, but three-fourths of the teams in the Ravens' conference have already gone down at least twice. Overall, 22 of the league's 32 teams have at least two losses.

I bring it up not to emphasize that the season is far from over in Baltimore. That's obvious, despite what the past two weeks suggest.

I bring it up to point out that just about everyone – seriously, just about every team in the league – is dealing with adversity and disappointment.

Here in Baltimore, a lot of hair is on fire because of the rash of injuries, the state of the offensive line, Joe Flacco's mechanics, Brandon Williams' foot, etc.

What does the rest of the league think of that adversity? Here's the quick version: Yadda, yadda, O-line, blah, blah, quarterback, yadda, blah, whatever.

Everyone else has issues, too.

I had an email exchange with a New York Giants fan earlier this week. His team is winless. When I chronicled the Ravens offensive line issues, he wasn't impressed.

"Trade you," he responded.

Other teams aren't pointing at the Ravens and saying, whew, they're dealing with rough stuff. Other teams are saying, "You should see what we're dealing with!"

Everyone is agitated.

OK, maybe not everyone. The Kansas City Chiefs are 4-0. Life is good there and in a few other places.

But otherwise, misery has plenty of company.

I could go through the league right now and detail the issues various teams are encountering, but frankly, I don't have the column inches. Just take my word for it. Times are tough almost everywhere.

The Ravens' looming matchup with the Oakland Raiders vividly illustrates the point. Both teams started 2-0. Both have now lost two in a row. Both teams' quarterback play is under intense scrutiny, in Oakland because of an injury, in Baltimore because of Flacco's performance.

You think times are tough for the Ravens? Yadda, yadda. The Raiders and their fans are just as worked up.

Yes, there are some differences between what the Ravens and Raiders are experiencing. The Ravens have dealt with more injuries. Oakland only has three players on injured reserve. That's about one week's worth for the Ravens.

But one of the Raiders on injured reserve is Sebastian Janikowski, their amazing kicker. Imagine if the Ravens didn't have Justin Tucker. Honestly, they might just forfeit. (I'm kidding.)

Again, I'm making the point that adversity is commonplace, a routine occurrence in the long grind of the season. Everyone has obstacles they're trying to clear.

But not everyone is going to react the same way. And that's where things get interesting.

Under the radar, the ability to handle adversity might be the biggest difference-maker in the league, the biggest separator between winners and losers. OK, so you're in deep. What are you going to do about it?

"It's part of being in this league – dealing with adversity and still being able to get yourself up and get yourself through it," Flacco said this week.

He's talking about a survival skill, a fundamental coaches can't teach: Find a way through whatever you're dealing with and give yourself a chance down the line.

It's easier said than done. The Ravens have been world travelers lately. England, California. Their road record is far from encouraging. They're missing key guys.

But the Raiders are playing a backup quarterback. In fact, the Ravens' next four opponents are currently playing quarterbacks who weren't their projected starter when training camp began.

It's not the misery that matters. It's how you handle it.

(By the way, Tom Petty had so many great songs that I probably shouldn't try to single out five, but here's my list: American Girl; The Last DJ; The Waiting; I Won't Back Down; Change the Locks.)

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