Coaches let the players down in this one
When the Ravens begin breaking down the film today of their 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins, coach John Harbaugh needs to evaluate himself and his coaching staff more than the players.
Except for defensive coordinator Dean Pees, the Ravens staff should shoulder more blame than the players.
There are plenty of players to point fingers at — receivers who can’t catch, offensive linemen whocan’t block and defensive backs who can’t cover — but when two bad football teams are playing, good coaching makes a difference.
It did Sunday, and that’s why the Ravens lost.
Harbaugh can’t move past his “Wemust be aggressive” attitude or overcome his clock management problems. Special teams coach Jerry Rosburg, for the second straight week, hasn’t been able to fix his coverage units, and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman’s playcalling was terrible again.
Harbaugh either needs to make a move to improve his offensive staff or give Trestman an endorsement. Frustration is starting to set in with players.
“It’s frustrating. I’m not happy, especially when you play that” way, quarterback Joe Flacco said of two straight home losses against two of the NFL’s worst defenses. “It’s embarrassing to run off the field in front of your home fans, in front of your teammates. Our defense is putting up awesome fights every week, and we’re just running on and off the field, basically.”
Even when the Ravens got into field-goal range, they managed to mess that up. That falls on Harbaugh, not Trestman. Facing a Ravens coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco watch as a fourth-quarter touchdown is overturned after a video review. “It’s embarrassing,” Flacco said of the offenses’ struggles. fourth-and-12 at the Washington 17-yard line with 6:31 left in the half and a 10-6 lead, Harbaugh called for a fake field goal. Kicker Justin Tucker threw a pass that was short of tight end Crockett Gillmore.
Gillmore was open, but the Ravens didn’t need to call a fake. The Ravens defense, one of the best in the NFL, was playing well. The Ravens also have one of the league’s best kickers, so why not just take the three points?
“It was an aggressive call; I’m not secondguessing it,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve been here nine years and said we’re going to be aggressive.”
But let’s use some logic here. The Ravens were playing the Redskins, not the New England Patriots. They didn’t need to manufacture a lot of points. This was the kind of game that could have been won with field goals, not touchdowns.
There were other times when you wondered what Harbaugh was thinking.
Harbaugh called his last timeout of the game with the clock already stopped at 20 seconds left, and the Ravens facing fourthand-8 at the Washington 21. That timeout virtually ensured the Ravens would have just one more opportunity. If they had saved the timeout and been able to convert the first down, they would have had an extra play or two to score.
It was a poor day for Harbaugh. I thought it was going to be a good one because he finally got cornerback Shareece Wright out of the lineup and inserted young players Tavon Young and Sheldon Price. Healso cut running back Justin Forsett in favor of Terrance West.
But Trestman doesn’t know how to use West. He doesn’t have a feel for the game, and Harbaugh doesn’t have an offensive back- ground. West had seven carries for 60 yards in the first half but got just four carries in the second to finish with 95 yards.
There was never more of a blown opportunity than midwaythrough the second quarter, when the Ravens recovered a fumble by Washington at the Redskins 15. Instead of handing off to West, the Ravens threw three passes before setting up Tucker’s errant pass to Gillmore.
One more thing about that fake field goal: Tuckerset uptoapproachtheballasif hewere a left-footed kicker, which was unusual, because he’s right-footed. That was a dead giveaway that it was a fake. Harbaugh, though, liked the play. Apparently, so did Rosburg.
The Ravens need to forget the trickery and get back to fundamentals in kick coverage. They allowed a 45-yard kickoff return and an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. This kind of thing has been happening every week.
“I’m disappointed in the way we played. I’m very disappointed,” Harbaugh said. “It starts with me.”
Agreed. The first thing Harbaugh has to do is clear up the situation with Trestman. The Ravens have no offensive identity. They might have more 1-yard routes in their offense than any team in the NFL. They can’t find a rhythm.
On the sideline, there isn’t a lot of communication between Harbaugh and Trestman, and only slightly more between TrestmanandFlacco. Trestmanisontheverge of losing offensive players unless Harbaugh endorses him or makes a change.
The NFL has become a composition of poor-to-mediocre teams. On any given day, one team can be as bad as another. But in these types of games, coaching can make a difference. The Ravens staff didn’t get it done Sunday.
This loss was on them. They came up empty.