With Ravens at 2-2, Now Is Not the Time to Panic
After starting the season 2-0, the Ravens were being hailed as legitimate Super Bowl Contenders. Coming off two consecutive losses, the conversation has turned to whether the team should panic.
Such is life in the NFL. As Ravens Head Coach Harbaugh said when speaking to the media yesterday, "It's a long season in the NFL."
"It's a week to week proposition, Always has been and always will be," Harbaugh said. "You learn from that. You learn to keep an even keel and understand that you're going to play good games and you're going to play not good games."
In other words, the Ravens are fully aware of the issues they need to address, but they're not in panic mode. The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia agreed that there's no need for Ravens fans to be overly alarmed.
In Kapadia's NFL Panic Index, he assessed the panic level for the Ravens after Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns at: "Take a deep breath, it's going to be OK."
"Four weeks in, this defense is clearly still trying to find itself," Kapadia wrote. "Getting [Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback] Mason Rudolph and [Cincinnati Bengals quarterback] Andy Dalton on the schedule next should help. The Ravens are a well-run organization with a smart coaching staff. They'll figure things out and improve."
The Ravens are one of 13 teams in the NFL to have a 2-2 record. NFL Network's Deion Sanders gave his opinion on whether each of those teams is a contender or pretender, and he placed the Ravens in the former category.
"Contenders. Gotta fix that defense," Sanders said.
Interestingly, Sanders was less certain of which category to put the Browns in despite their convincing victory over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
"They're neither or," Sanders said. "They're confused."
USA Today's Barry Werner gave grades for each team at the quarter mark of the season. He gave the Ravens a "C."
"For all the great play by Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are 2-2. And in a bizarre way that is good enough to be tied for first place in the AFC North with the Cleveland Browns, who ravaged them Sunday in Baltimore," Werner wrote. "The last two games are losses and they have caused the quarter grade to drop by as many grades."
NFL.com's Adam Schein ranked the Ravens as the fifth-most promising of all the 2-2 teams (he had the Browns at No. 2, behind the Philadelphia Eagles).
"I really like the Ravens. I just think they are the second-best team in the AFC North," Schein wrote. "I really like Lamar Jackson. I just think he's the second-best healthy quarterback in the division.
"In the preseason, I had Baltimore ticketed for 9-7. One big concern I had was the defense, which lost a whole bunch of talent during the offseason to free agency. And the Ravens certainly haven't fielded a vintage unit on D over the past two weeks. The organization is great and the team is tough. Baltimore should end up being around the playoff bubble, at least."
Jackson on Pace for Best Season Ever by a Ravens QB
While the Ravens have experienced their share of highs and lows through the first four weeks of the season, the play of Jackson tops the list on the positive side.
As noted by Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens, Jackson is on pace for the greatest season by a quarterback in Ravens history.
In his second season, Jackson is tied for the league-lead with 10 touchdown passes (to just two interceptions) and is in the top five in quarterback rating (109.4). He leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards (238 on 36 carries) by a wide margin, and is 15th in the league in rushing overall.
If Jackson continues on this pace, he'll set franchise records for passing yards (4,400), touchdown passes (40) and lowest interception percentage (1.5). His 952 rushing yards will be the third-most for a quarterback in league history.
"No matter how you slice it, Jackson is on pace to not only shut up any of his former critics, but to put his stamp on the NFL as one of the best quarterbacks around," Stevens wrote.
Baltimore Beatdown's Frank J. Platko wrote: "If you had said this would be Jackson's numbers at the beginning of the season, most people, including myself, would have called you crazy. … Jackson is held to a different standard than many NFL quarterbacks, but through four games, he's passed almost every test."
While Jackson's statistics thus far are impressive, he'd be the first to say that the only numbers that matter in the end are how many wins and losses the team has.
"I'm just going to play ball. Come out with victories, Jackson said recently.
Harbaugh Wins 'Decision of the Week' Again
For the second week in a row, PFF gave Harbaugh its "Decision of the Week" award for his aggressive approach on two-point conversions. After attempting three two-point conversions in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Ravens went for two on one occasion against the Browns.
They went 0-for-3 last week but were successful on Sunday, cutting the Browns lead to 24-18 with 9:51 remaining in the game.
"Harbaugh happily went for two after Lamar Jackson's touchdown pass to Mark Andrews and punched it in on a Mark Ingram rush," Yahoo Sports' Ben Weinrib wrote. "Suddenly a touchdown would have given them the lead…"