Ravens Not Turning On Each Other, Not Giving Up
The football world is giving up on the Ravens – just take a look at some of the headlines around the web:
With plenty of blame to go around for a 3-5 start and plenty of outsiders quitting on the team, the Ravens aren't turning on each other and they aren't giving up.
"I don't think this football team is going to splinter off," defensive lineman Chris Canty said after Sunday's game. "When you work hard together, it's hard to break that up. I'm not really worried about this football team splintering off."
"We're going to ride or die no matter what," receiver Jacoby Jones added, per The Baltimore Sun. "Ups and downs, we're going to stick together. We'll never turn our back on each other. That's not the Ravens' way."
The defense could easily point a finger at the offense for starting slow each week. The offense could blame the defense for not getting off the field in the fourth quarter. Special teams has been mistake-prone. The running game can't get kick-started. The offensive line isn't opening holes for the running backs, and let Joe Flacco get beat up Sunday.
Despite all that's gone wrong, "at least they haven't resorted to pointing fingers," wrote The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
The Ravens will have to muster a winning streak over the next eight weeks to make the playoffs, and* *history shows that it is "neither unprecedented nor all that uncommon," says Jeff Zrebiec.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, 32 teams since 2000 have reached the playoffs after having a .500 or below record at the halfway point of the season. That includes three times last season with the Seahawks (4-4), Redskins (3-5) and Bengals (3-5), the latter two both having the same mark as the Ravens.
The Ravens have also rebounded from three-game losing skids, including last season when they lost three straight in December and still went on win the Super Bowl.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley is incredulous that Baltimore can pull off a turnaround, saying "history and reality are different for the Ravens." He agrees with Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who said the Ravens aren't the Ravens of old, and Hensley says this year's squad may not be able to pull it off.
But Head Coach John Harbaugh has advised his team not to focus on a winning streak, but rather winning just one game – the upcoming matchup against the division leading Cincinnati Bengals.
"Now, our focus becomes one game," he said Monday. "What we need to do is win one game.
"Momentum is a crazy thing. You have to stop theirs and build yours. Once you do that, you have a chance to build on that."
The players are buying in. Canty and Jones both said they aren't playing like themselves, and a lack of effort or chemistry is not the problem. They just have to win one game.
The key is to stick together, and Harbaugh wants his players to focus on "dominating" their individual jobs.
"We've got to keep fighting and stay focused and stay faithful," strong safety James Ihedigbo said, per Wilson. "More than ever in the midst of everything, we got to stick together and stay close."
Bengals Worked Out Michael Huff
The Bengals worked out safety Michael Huff, who the Ravens cut last week, according to Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy.
"Something to keep an eye on," Reedy tweeted.
The Bengals did not immediately sign Huff to a contract.
"Is it possible that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis asked Huff a few questions about the Ravens' schemes while he had him in the building for a tryout?" asked Wilson. "Certainly, but it's not a big deal for an NFL team to do so, and Lewis is already extremely familiar with the Ravens' schemes."
Flacco Gets Worst Grade From PFF
The grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) are in, and Flacco got the worst mark of any Raven in the 24-18 loss to the Browns Sunday.
Flacco received a -3.9 grade as he struggled to throw downfield, a trend that has developed this season despite completing 50 passes of 20 or more yards last year (including the playoffs), 16 of which were touchdown completions.
"Particularly troubling were his struggles when he wasn't under pressure, with him missing open receivers far too often when he had a clean pocket to work with," wrote Gordon McGuinness. "Even when he was completing passes downfield, he still left a lot to be desired. … Flacco's play has told the story of the Ravens' season so far, and unless he improves, it's hard to see this team making the playoffs."
On the defensive side of the ball, Ravens safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam got good marks for their run defense but scored poorly in coverage for missing a combined three tackles "that proved costly."
Here are the offensive and defensive snap counts and grades:
|Name||Snap Count||Rating||Name||Snap Count||Rating|
|Marlon Brown||56||1.9||Arthur Jones||45||2|
|Ed Dickson||47||-1.7||Haloti Ngata||57||-0.5|
|Eugene Monroe||73||3.6||Chris Canty||39||0.8|
|A.Q. Shipley||73||-2.1||Courtney Upshaw||52||1.4|
|Gino Gradkowski||73||1.4||Daryl Smith||71||-1.2|
|Marshal Yanda||73||-0.1||Jameel McClain||47||1|
|Michael Oher||73||-0.9||Terrell Suggs||59||1|
|Jacoby Jones||41||-0.9||Lardarius Webb||71||-1.2|
|Torrey Smith||71||0.4||James Ihedigbo||71||-1.4|
|Joe Flacco||73||-3.9||Matt Elam||70||0|
|Ray Rice||51||-2.1||Jimmy Smith||47||0.9|
|Tandon Doss||17||0||Terrence Cody||19||-1|
|Dallas Clark||24||-0.1||Brandon Williams||15||0.6|
|Deonte Thompson||32||-0.6||Elvis Dumervil||30||0.3|
|Vonta Leach||2||0.3||Arthur Brown||13||-0.5|
|Bernard Pierce||22||0.9||Josh Bynes||9||0.3|
Bengals Playing 'Desperate' Too
Many believed the Bengals would come out of Miami with a win last Thursday. The Dolphins were 3-4 heading into the matchup after losing four in a row.
One Cincinnati reporter surmised that the Dolphins were feeling desperate, motivating them to play better and beat the Bengals.
With the Ravens losing three straight, the Bengals are facing another team desperate for a win.
How can Cincy combat that motivation?
"We're going to be playing desperate, too," Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson said, per ESPN. "Every game from here on out, in my eyes, is a desperation game.* *I'm going to play like that."
ESPN's Coley Harvey believes* *Johnson has the right mentality.
"In case you're wondering, yes, Johnson is well aware the Bengals are without defensive tackle Geno Atkins," the blogger wrote. "No, he doesn't have a clue what Atkins' loss will mean to the rest of the line, and -- aside from being concerned about his teammate's season-ending injury and well-being -- he doesn't really care. He also doesn't have any feelings about the Bengals' current 2 1/2-game division lead. All he knows is that they have to hold on to it.
"That's the reason Johnson wasn't flinching or blinking when he flatly stated what he felt was the significance of every game the rest of this season. The Bengals can't afford to lose anymore the rest of the season."
- @RavensInsider: NFL has reinstated Ravens cornerback from reserve-suspended list. Ravens granted roster exemption through Nov. 11 [Twitter]
- @mzenitz: And with Jimmy Smith dealing with a groin injury, it's possible that Jackson could see time in sub-packages this week against Cincinnati [Twitter]
- Ravens blitzes against the Browns Sunday backfired. "All three touchdown passes allowed by the Ravens on Sunday came when they blitzed," Hensley noted. "The Ravens tried to put pressure on Browns quarterback Jason Campbell, but he delivered touchdown throws of 1, 20 and 4 yards." [ESPN]
- A few snap count observations from Matt Vensel: "Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown [56 snaps] continues to play more than Jacoby Jones , though the gap has narrowed. … Bynes had a smaller role on defense , but it freed him up to play a season-high 26 snaps on special teams." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Childs Walker thinks the offensive line will look "far different" in 2014. "The run blocking [Sunday] was typically bad, but the pass blocking, a relative strength, also faltered," he wrote. "The Browns sacked Joe Flacco five times and rocked him with several other hits. The line has performed so poorly that it's hard to imagine Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome bringing back a similar group next season." [The Baltimore Sun]
- @jeffzrebiecsun: Most surprising comment from Harbaugh [Monday]: "Our offensive line blocked well yesterday. If you see it on tape, you'd have to say that." [Twitter]
- @ElamVsElo: So I reapplied to UF for the Spring [Twitter]