7 Takeaways From Ravens' Loss To Jets
For the first time in the Head Coach John Harbaugh era, the Ravens have lost four straight games.
Below are seven takeaways from their 24-16 defeat at the hands of the now 2-5 New York Jets:
1) Ravens Are Officially In 'Crisis Mode'
There's good news and bad news on this gloomy Baltimore Monday morning.
The good news is the Ravens are still in the thick of the AFC North race and have two weeks to get healthy and return key Pro Bowl players after the bye. Baltimore is tied for second place in the division with the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) and just one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3).
The Ravens can also use the time off to try to fix a myriad of issues before facing a potentially Ben Roethlisberger–less Steelers and fight for the top spot in the AFC North (along with the Bengals if they beat the Washington Redskins Sunday).
"The bad news is there's been no indication that they are capable of such corrections, or that this once-promising season is even salvageable," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
That bad news is actually so bad that The Sun's Peter Schmuck is pushing the panic button.
"Welcome to John Harbaugh's nightmare," he wrote. "In a game that defied explanation, the Ravens found a bunch of new ways to lose and now are officially in crisis.
"[I]f they cannot beat a 1-5 team that lost its starting quarterback in the second quarter, it probably won't matter whether Roethlisberger is available to play when they face the Steelers in two weeks."
Based on their record, the Jets are the second-worst team in the conference just ahead of the winless Cleveland Browns. Yet the Ravens were the worse team Sunday, so it's hard for media and fans to see how Baltimore can beat any of the remaining winning teams on its schedule during the second half of the season.
Relying on other teams to keep you in the hunt is not a recipe for success. As CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown said, "[The Ravens] can't wait for other teams to do their business for them." To turn the season around, Baltimore needs* *to start playing better and not just hope rivals stumble.
The No. 1 priority is finding a way for the offense to score touchdowns. The unit has only reached the end zone 10 times in seven games this season (Chris Moore's touchdown doesn't count because it came on special teams), which is tied for the second least in the NFL.
Prior to Sunday, the cry was for better red-zone offense, but the Ravens actually took a step back by not even making it to the red zone against the Jets.
Mistakes, including turnovers, missed tackles and penalties are also all problems, but quarterback Joe Flacco said the biggest problem is just that the Ravens just "aren't good right now." Every team makes mistakes, but the Ravens aren't playing well enough offensively to overcome them, per Flacco.
"You can point to a lot of things, but to me, almost all of them are on the offensive side of the football," said Brown. "A lot of people thought Marc Trestman getting fired was going to solve the Ravens' offensive problems. You can scratch that off your list. It hasn't happened. They still haven't won a game without him.
"If the Ravens don't improve offensively, the winning isn't going to start happening."
2) Walker: 'Harbaugh Is Going To Start Taking Real Heat'
Losses are starting to pile up, which means the heat is starting to turn up, too.
If the Ravens don't turn things around, they will miss the playoffs in three of the last four years. After the first losing season in the Harbaugh era last year, the Ravens are under .500 for the first time this season.
"Every week now, John Harbaugh laments how they're not playing winning football, not translating their efforts in practice to production on Sunday," wrote The Sun's Childs Walker. "If that's the case, the ire of a dispirited fan base is going to focus increasingly on Harbaugh himself. And according to his own description of the problem, it's scrutiny he deserves.
"He'll get a very long leash from owner Steve Bisciotti, and he should. He's always won when working with talented, healthy rosters, and he's rarely failed to coax spirited efforts from his players. I fully expect Harbaugh to coach the Ravens in 2017. But if they don't alter their fortunes rapidly, I expect to hear wide speculation about a coaching change for the first time since he took the job in 2008."
3) Of All The Ravens' Problems, Offensive Line Is Biggest Issue
If Baltimore is going to start scoring again, both the running game and Flacco need to play better. But neither of those two things is likely to happen with the way the offensive line is playing.
Few lanes opened up yesterday against the sixth-ranked rush defense and Flacco was under pressure too often.
The Ravens once again had three players out of position along the line with rookie Alex Lewis kicking out to left tackle to fill in for No. 6 overall pick Ronnie Stanley, John Urschel playing left guard, and Ryan Jensen filling in for Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda.
Perhaps the most surprising deactivation of the afternoon was Stanley despite being a full participant in practice all week. The hope is Baltimore gets its offensive linemen back after the bye.
4) Ravens Rushing For Just 6 Yards Is 'Embarrassing'
Yes, the Jets came into the game with the sixth-ranked rush defense. But, it left with the second-ranked unit after holding the Ravens to a franchise-low 6 rushing yards.
The previous low was 14 yards against the Tennessee Titans in 2005.
"That's embarrassing," wrote Brown. "But that's how low the Ravens have sunk offensively."
I don't care if the Jets run defense was ranked number six entering the game, the Ravens totaling 6 yards rushing today is abysmal. — Brian Bower (@sportguyRSR) October 23, 2016
That number could have been markedly better if it weren't for a holding penalty called on Lewis that wiped out a 52-yard run by Terrance West in the second quarter. Not only would those yards have helped the overall rushing stats, but the ball would have been placed at the 4-yard line, the only time the Ravens would have been in the red zone and in position to score a touchdown.
5) Joe Flacco Looked Like A 'Shaken Man'
The CBS broadcast touted the stat, along with just about every Ravens reporter on Twitter.
Flacco had just set the franchise record of not throwing an interception in 176 consecutive passes. Then, of course, right on cue, Flacco threw a pick on the next play. And then he threw another on the next drive.
Flacco didn't use his injured shoulder as an excuse for the two picks, or his rough second half in which he went 10-for-22 for 48 yards. In fact, Twitter was buzzing about how good Flacco's shoulder looked after he completed a beautiful 53-yard rainbow to wide receiver Mike Wallace in the first quarter.
But the tune changed later.
"Flacco had the look of a shaken man," wrote Walker.
"On several other attempts, he missed open receivers high or wide because he seemingly threw without conviction. He threw a ball straight into the ground on the team's last drive, appearing spooked when there wasn't a defender close to him. Perhaps the Ravens will return from the bye week with their starting offensive line, and perhaps Flacco's shoulder will feel stronger after two weeks of rest. The Ravens better hope so, because they can't win with their franchise quarterback looking this ill at ease."
6) Timmy Jernigan Wasn't Going To Go The Distance
After Sunday's loss, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan vowed to never try to return a fumble again. From now on, he will just fall on the ball.
The promise came after Jernigan recovered a Jets fumble just outside the end zone at the 2-yard line, tried to return it, and fumbled it right back to the Jets at the 5-yard line.
Jernigan was only trying to help the offense by getting more yards, but falling on the ball is probably a good idea for a 300-pound defensive lineman.
7) Zrebiec: Ravens May Not Be Able To Trust Devin Hester Much Longer
Ravens veteran return man and future Hall of Famer Devin Hester is getting some heat after letting a punt/kick hit the turf for the third time this year.
Luckily, Hester was able to recover one fumble, and another went out of bounds, but it can be nerve-racking when he sits back there fielding balls.