Late For Work 10/12: Big Opportunity For Ravens' Playoff Positioning Before Bye

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Big Opportunity For Ravens' Playoff Positioning Before Bye

There's no "good time" to make a midseason change at offensive coordinator, but it would have been easier to wait two weeks until the bye. It would have given Marty Mornhinweg and the offensive players more time to make adjustments and mesh.

But Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't wait, and it speaks to the big opportunity the Ravens have ahead of them these next two weeks.

"[T]he timing does speak to the importance of these next two road games at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants and Jets," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "It would have been easier for [Harbaugh] to wait out the next two weeks to see if the offense shows some improvements, and if it didn't, make the move during the Week 8 bye week."

Both the Giants (2-3) and the Jets (1-4) are on three-game losing streaks, while the Ravens have dropped two consecutive games. Somebody is going to get back on the winning track.

And as bad as the Ravens have looked on offense, believe it or not, they are still in a strong position in the AFC race.

If the season ended today, Baltimore would advance to the postseason via a wild-card spot, but it will be tough to hold onto that, or contend for the AFC North lead (Steelers are 4-1), if they don't pick up wins in New York. The schedule becomes more daunting after the bye as the Ravens face five teams that currently have a combined 11-3 record.

"The Ravens need to win these final two games before the bye to give themselves some margin of error in the second half," wrote Zrebiec.

"Winning one out of two, which would send them into the bye week with a 4-3 record, wouldn't be a disaster, but it would make a playoff run challenging. Losing both and heading into the bye with a 3-4 record and four straight losses would be nearly impossible to overcome."

Would Marc Trestman Still Be Employed IF …?

I've seen a lot of tweets like these over the last couple of days:

*Maybe *Trestman would still be in Baltimore today if the Ravens had won, but as Garafolo pointed out, Trestman wouldn't have a "strong grip on it." Would there be that much more confidence in Trestman had Perriman got his second foot down in bounds? If he had, the Ravens offense would have gone from having one solid touchdown drive on the opening series to adding only one more on the final series.

Would a Mosley touchdown have inspired more confidence in the offense Monday morning?

The Baltimore Sun's Schmuck Peter Schmuck made a good point in his column Tuesday that the offensive line issues won't magically go away under Mornhinweg. Baltimore surrendered a league-worst 23 quarterback pressures on Sunday, per Pro Football Focus. Things won't get better if first-round pick Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Rick Wager don't return.

The arguments seem fruitless, however. You can point to Perriman's foot, Mosley's fumble or a banged up offensive line, but the offensive trajectory has been on the decline for some time now and so was Trestman's stock, according to reports. The NFL Network reported that Harbaugh considered the change in the offseason because red flags were there, but a 2015 injury-riddled season made it difficult to pull the trigger.

"Sunday's ugly 10-point performance was the breaking point for Trestman, but there had been whispers for at least a couple of weeks that he was in danger of being replaced," Schmuck wrote.

"Time will tell whether [Mornhinweg] is the right offensive coordinator for the Ravens," added ESPN. "But Harbaugh knew Trestman was the wrong one. That's why there was no reason to wait to make a move."

Five Players Who Could Benefit Most From Marty Mornhinweg

As Mornhinweg takes over the play-calling duties, there are five players who could benefit greatly from the change, according to CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown:

WR Kamar Aiken: "Nobody is saying Aiken is Jerry Rice. But Mornhinweg may find a way to get Aiken more involved."

QB Joe Flacco: "The player who will be impacted most. The relationship between quarterback and play-caller is crucial. Flacco and fired coordinator Marc Trestman no longer seemed to be on the same page." 

WR Breshad Perriman: "Perriman needs to make the most of his opportunities, and that didn't happen in Week 5. … However, Perriman's speed alone should make him a vertical threat. That's something Mornhinweg will try to tap into."

WR Mike Wallace: "Similar to Perriman, Wallace's speed must be used more to challenge corners and safeties."

RB Terrance West: "If West or any running back is rolling, Mornhinweg won't forget about the running game."

Does Justin Forsett Signing With Lions Affect Ravens' Salary Cap?

Congratulations to running back Justin Forsett, who signed with the Detroit Lions a week after being released from the Ravens.

Forsett wasn't out of a job for long as the Lions were hit by the injury bug at the running back position with starter Ameer Abdullah (foot) on injured reserve and rookie Dwayne Washington dealing with an ankle injury.

Ravens fans had questions on social media whether Forsett's signing gives the Ravens back money under the salary cap.

It would be unlikely for Forsett not to claim his termination pay given that he turns 31 years old Friday and the Ravens owe him $2.3 million. Another big payday like that is unlikely at this point in his career.

Power Rankings: Ravens Are Average Team

Baltimore slipped down national power rankings more this week after the painful 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins, but the Ravens didn't plummet. They went from a slightly above average team to more of a solid average team.

Their ranking dropped from 12.7 last week to 14.4 this week.

USA Today: No. 12 (moved down one spot)
"Tough Monday for Marc Trestman. But last time John Harbaugh fired his offensive coordinator, Baltimore won Super Bowl."

Bleacher Report: No. 12 (no movement)
"Special teams used to be John Harbaugh's specialty. That's no longer the case. Harbaugh's Ravens have now dropped a second consecutive game because of a special teams error. … Baltimore wants to take its offense in a run-first direction. It will need to move Snacks Harrison out of the way first."

ProFootballTalk.com: No. 13 (no movement)
"If you're a failed former NFC North coach, you may be on the short list to be the next offensive coordinator."

ESPN: No. 14 (no movement) 
"The Ravens have fired Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman. The last time John Harbaugh fired an O-coordinator midseason, things worked out well. Harbaugh made a switch at offensive coordinator in 2012 and the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl. Baltimore tests out its new offense at the Giants on Sunday."

Fox Sports: No. 14 (moved down three spots)
"The Ravens' 3-0 start was the result of an easy schedule and a handful of fortunate breaks. The offense needs retooling, and new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg may not be capable of making that happen given the lack of athleticism and talent he has to work with. Joe Flacco needs help because Steve Smith Sr. can't be their best playmaker each week."

CBS Sports: No. 16 (moved down four spots)
"After their fast start, they've dropped two tough home games to fall to 3-2 as they [get] ready to face the Giants. Will firing Marc Trestman impact the offense?"

Yahoo! Sports: No. 17 (moved down one spot)
"Firing a head coach gets more headlines, but firing a coordinator during a season might be more disruptive (assuming the head coach doesn't call the offense or defense). You can't really install a new system while you're preparing for games each week. So you know the Ravens had to be fed up when they let Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman go on Monday." 

NFL.com: No. 18 (moved down four spots)
"At this point, after all of the nail-biters, Baltimore games need to start being accompanied by one of those medical disclaimers: Raven games can cause lack of sleep, anxiety, headaches, boundless diarrhea, bleeding eyeballs. Please consult your doctor before watching." 

Ravens Will See Jeremy Butler In Two Weeks

Former Ravens receiver Jeremy Butler was just signed to his third team in two months, and Baltimore could face off against him in two weeks.

The New York Jets released another former Raven, Jeremy Ross, to add Butler after he was released by the Tampa Buccaneers Sunday. The Jets claimed him off waivers as Eric Decker and Jalin Marshall are dealing with injuries,* *and Devin Smith is on the physically unable to perform list.

Butler was picked up by the Ravens as an undrafted rookie in 2014, and he had one of the best preseasons of any receiver, but the Ravens didn't have room on the 53-man roster.

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