Ravens Taking 'Long, Hard Look At Ourselves' Heading Into Bye


A reporter asked safety Eric Weddle after Sunday's loss to the Jets whether he thought the bye week was coming a good time.

Weddle quipped back, "What do you think?"

The Ravens needed the bye in the worst way after dropping their fourth-straight game, the longest losing streak under Head Coach John Harbaugh. In addition to using the next two weeks to get several key players healthy, the Ravens also know they have to do a thorough examination of themselves to correct the errors that have plagued them over the last month.

As the players quietly packed their bags at MetLife Stadium, there was a clear sense of frustration. Players emphasized the need to eliminate the simple mistakes that have cost them games, and team leaders challenged everyone to elevate their performance. 

"We'll have a long, hard look at ourselves this week," veteran tight end Dennis Pitta said. "We're not in a good place. We just lost four straight."

The Ravens don't plan to use the bye week as much of a vacation. Harbaugh said the Ravens will practice through Wednesday, which is the maximum amount of time the league permits during the bye week.

"You've just got to go fight like crazy and get better," Harbaugh said. "You've got to make it happen on gameday."

Players had different answers for why the Ravens have struggled and what needs to change. They talked about providing better protection for quarterback Joe Flacco, cutting down on the self-inflicted mistakes and putting games away once they get a lead.

But the overarching theme in all of those solutions was simply that the Ravens better get right back to work.

"It's easy to sit up here and talk and say what's going to happen and what we can do," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "No, we got to do it. It's easy to talk. We have to do a great job to figure ourselves out, figure out what we're lacking as a team."

Several players brought up the importance of confidence despite the current struggles. While the Ravens have faltered over the last four weeks, the team leaders all know what it takes to have success and they need to get the young players to understand that. 

"You have to keep your head up. It's a man's game and you just have to keep going to work and get in your routine," Flacco said. "I think the veterans on the team will have to lead that and get the guys back into their routine for the week and just move on."

A silver lining going into the bye is that the Ravens know they will likely have key players returning from injuries. Linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps), C.J. Mosley (thigh) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (ankle) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) all missed the matchup with the Jets.

They are some of the best players on the roster, and the Ravens could certainly get a boost from having them back in the lineup.

"Not only are they great players, but they are great leaders for us," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "We need that leadership. We have a lot of young players who need those guys on the field. Not even to say anything, but just their presence makes you feel better."

Another important piece in turning around the season is keeping the locker room from fracturing. Teams can turn a slump into a tailspin when players turn on each other.

"There's no finger pointing," safety Lardarius Webb said. "We're going to stick together. We're not going to fold. That's one thing about the Baltimore Ravens – we aren't ever going to fold. We're going to keep fighting until the end."

As disappointed as the Ravens are in their recent performances, they also understand the reality of the NFL playoff picture. They are just a game behind Pittsburgh for first place in the AFC North, and they will take on the Steelers in Week 9. All the games against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are still remaining, and the Ravens could certainly play themselves back into contention.

"We have nine games to go do what we want to still accomplish. It's not like we're in Week 15 and it's over. We still have a lot of ball left," Weddle said. "We don't want to keep saying that five more weeks from now – no it's to the point where we need to start winning these things, or we're not. But everything is still right there in front of us."

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