The notion that the Ravens now have nothing to play for in 2015 is a bunch of bunk.
They have plenty to play for, just not what anyone expected or wanted.
Playoffs? That was the goal going in, as always, but when you have a 1-5 record, the p-word gets expunged from your vocabulary.
The Ravens' goal from now on is to limit the disappointment of 2015 to one season.
Whatever is causing this, and there's a list, they need to strive to keep it from creeping into 2016 and beyond.
Hiccups happen, hard as that is for some to accept. It's a competitive league. Other teams can play. Sometimes, they win and you don't.
You just want to make sure that's all it is, a hiccup, as opposed to the onset of a longer period of diminution. The latter is something darker, the last thing you want.
It's a challenge the Ravens haven't faced since 2007, and they have their work cut out for them. Sunday's loss to San Francisco dropped them to 19-19 since they won the Super Bowl. They're looking at missing the playoffs for the second time in three years after a long run of success. And they've ceded the high ground in the AFC North, formerly their terrain, to the Cincinnati Bengals, who are unbeaten in 2015 and 5-1 against Baltimore in the last six games between the teams.
All of that suggests a team going in the wrong direction.
But they've lost games by six, four, four, three and five points this season, and led late most weeks, so it's not as if they're hurtling 100 mph in that wrong direction.
Here's what the Ravens aren't going to do about it: They aren't going to hold a fire sale and trade off pending free agents for draft picks.
That happens in baseball when a team gives up on a losing season, but pro football works differently. The NFL awards compensatory picks to teams that lose free agents, so you're assured of receiving value for losing a guy, chilling the urgency to make deals.
The Ravens also aren't just going to hand playing time to rookies and backups to see what they can do, even if it means more losing.
That might seem to make sense because you need to identify who can help down the line, and the more you lose, the higher your draft position. But please understand, winning is all that counts in the NFL, regardless of your circumstances. It's the only currency. Willingly sacrificing games never happens. It sends the wrong message to fans spending hundreds on tickets. In this case, it would send the wrong message to a team defined by desire and effort in both good times and bad.
Hey, the Ravens have so many injuries they're already getting long looks at many rookies and backups. They don't need to make a point of it.
As for their draft position, well, that's six months away, and to quote the old song, "whatever will be, will be."
What the Ravens WILL do, no doubt, is scrutinize all performances, from rookies and veterans alike, with several key questions in mind: Does he belong with us going forward? Can we do better for the right price?
All findings can be filed under the heading "damage control."
Locking up guard Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda with a contract extension last week was the first domino, a great move ensuring he will be around to provide ballast. So will Joe Flacco, although the quarterback's contract needs major reworking and he needs to play better.
Between those two, Justin Forsett, C.J. Mosley, Brandon Williams, Jimmy Smith and several others, the framework of a more successful team exists. Honestly, I think the Ravens are better than this, which is what makes 1-5 so disappointing. But they can't seem to get it right in the secondary, which is killing them, and they lack playmakers and keep beating themselves. A run of injuries isn't helping.
It looks like a lost year, but 1-5 actually heightens the call to analyze, adjust, contemplate how to better your puzzle. Remember, things can change quickly. The Seattle Seahawks should have won a second straight Super Bowl eight months ago, but now they're 2-4. The Atlanta Falcons were 6-10 last year, and now they're 5-1.
For the rest of this season gone wrong, the Ravens' goal is to work on becoming an example other teams use next year.