Ravens forecast: Even gloomier
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is no silver lining in the dark cloud that hangs over the Ravens.
They are just a bad football team.
They lost Sunday to the New York Jets, one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Ravens are moving into that class now. Before the game, the Jets had lost four straight. Now it’s the Ravens who have dropped four in a row.
In the middle of these types of crises, football teams lose their souls, and the Ravens were on a soul-searching mission after the 24-16 loss to the Jets.
“Yeah, I mean, mistakes are frustrating and they hurt because obviously, wegave the game away there, but the more frustrating thing is just the fact that we can’t consistently do things well,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We’re not good right now, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
There is no argument here. On Sunday, the Ravens couldn’t run or stop the run. They couldn’t tackle or block opposing tacklers. They got a turnover and turned it over again on the same play.
These things happen to bad teams. They take bad luck to another level.
Some might point to kicker Justin Tucker’s 50-, 49- and 44-yard field goals, but they only underscore the fact that the Ravens can’t score touchdowns, or even get inside an opponent’s 20-yard line. Wasn’t new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg supposed to give this offense a spark? Why do the new Ravens look a lot like the old Ravens?
Former coordinator Marc Trestman is probably sitting at home and smiling these days. His problem is now Mornhinweg’s, because the Ravens still don’t have playmakers on offense.
The dark cloud won’t be going away soon. The Ravens have a bye week coming up but play the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots in the second half of the season, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals twice. It’s going to pour.
If the Ravens were to have a chance to make the playoffs this season, they had to get off to a strong start in the first half of the schedule. But they’re 3-4.
If this season continues to get ugly, there will be some changes at the end of it. There have to be, because the Ravens will have missed the postseason three out of four years. Last season was considered an aberration because of the injuries, which led to a 5-11 record.
But that won’t fly this season. The Ravens have enough talent to win against marginal opponents, but they lack a killer instinct. They have jumped out to 10-0 leads in the past two weeks, only to surrender them and lose.
A holding penalty by rookie offensive tackle Alex Lewis halted a drive that should have been deep inside Jets territory and could have led to a 20-7 lead late in the second quarter. Then rookie cornerback Tavon Young couldn’t make a tackle on a key third-down play, which allowed the Jets to score a touchdown on the ensuing series. It’s always something. “Killer instinct is executing when you get ahead, putting people away and making plays — taking advantage of the fact that they’re down,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Whatever killer instinct translates to, we certainly don’t have it right now. It’s not just “Whatever killer instinct translates to, we certainly don’t have it right now,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Sunday’s loss to the Jets, the Ravens’ fourth in a row. this group; it’s been every single game for the last four weeks that we’ve lost. That’s got to be fixed.”
There are no quick-fix solutions. Flacco is beaten up and playing poorly, but he was playing that way before he got hurt. His mechanics are sloppy and he seems to tire in the second half of games; he threw two interceptions in the final two quarters Sunday.
Terrance West had a 52-yard run nullified by Lewis’ penalty, and the Ravens finished with only 6 yards on 12 attempts. You almost have to try to be that bad.
The offensive line was missing two starters, but the Ravens couldn’t run early in the season when they were in the lineup. Harbaugh’s once-mighty men aren’t so mighty anymore.
On defense, you would have figured that the Ravens would tackle better after the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. turned a short pass into a long game-winning touchdown last week, but the Ravens gave up a 69-yard touchdown to Quincy Enunwa on Sunday.
The Ravens entered the game with the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, but their front seven appeared to tire in the second half because the offense couldn’t sustain a drive.
That’s a bad sign. This team and this city always have prided themselves on defense and stopping the run, and now they’re gone.
The blinders are on, and nothing looks good straight ahead. In the first three weeks of the season, the Ravens beat some poor teams, but they made plays and there was hope that they would get better.
In the three weeks leading up to Sunday, they lost to capable quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning and Derek Carr.
On Sunday, they lost to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith, two quarterbacks the Jets really don’t even want. At times, the Ravens go back to their problems of last year: no playmakers at receiver or in the secondary.
But now, there is another problem: The confidence might be waning.
“We could have won all four of them,” defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said of the past four losses. “I feel like we could be undefeated right now. The only one that could stop us is us. So we have to do a great job to figure ourselves out, figure out what we’re lacking as a team. Not just one side of the ball or anything like that. It’s all about us. We win together, we lose together.
“Once we figure this thing out, the sky is the limit.”
Right now, the sky is falling.