Bye week comes at right time for banged up Ravens
— Surrounded by the media in the visitors’ locker room beneath MetLife Stadium on Sunday, his right eye red and swollen beneath a pulled down baseball cap, Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle said it best.
“We’re banged up,” he admitted. “My face, as you guys can tell, looks like I got in a fight out there. [The bye week] is coming at a great time.”
With the injuries—and losses—beginning to pile up for the Ravens, the arrival of the team’s bye week is a welcoming sight. Baltimore took the field Sunday with an inactive list featuring seven starters, including five Pro Bowlers, and struggled to make the plays needed to win, falling to the New York Jets 24-16 for its fourth-straight loss.
The losing streak—the longest in nine seasons under head coach John Harbaugh—is quickly spoiling what was a promising season. The Ravens opened the year with three consecutive victories.
“You couldn’t ask for a better bye,” Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
said. “Hopefully we can come back and get [offensive linemen] Ronnie [Stanely] and [Marshall] Yanda back up front. Not even just them but [outside linebacker Terrell] Suggs and [wide receiver] Steve [Smith Sr.]. That’s four or five guys that we have out. Not only are they great players, but those are great leaders for us. We need that leadership.
“We have 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.”
Pro Bowl linebackers CJ Mosley and Elvis Dumervil were also inactive Sunday due to injury, in addition to starting corner Shareece Wright. The lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball was noticeable for the Ravens (3-4), who failed to hold onto an early 10-0 lead and amassed just 42 yards of offense in the second half.
Harbaugh pointed to the Xs and Os rather than the mounting injury list as the reason for Baltimore’s recent string of losses.
“The focus [of the bye week] is going to be learning how to play winning football. It’s as simple as that,” Harbaugh said. “All the things that go into that—playing with discipline, intelligence, fundamentally-sound football, and getting better at the things we need to get better at. We’ll look at those things, we’re going to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we’re going to work at it like we always do. Our guys are going to come to work.”
The Ravens dropped every game in the month of October. Still, they enter the bye week tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for second place in the AFC North and began Sunday just one game back of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who they play at home in two weeks.
By then, Weddle and the Ravens hope the team’s normal starters will be back in the lineup.
“At the end of the day, when your starters are out, you hopefully build enough depth, but there is a drop off. That’s just the reality. If there wasn’t then they’d be starting,” Weddle said. “[The bye] comes at a good time. We have nine games left and it will decide what this team is going to be about.”
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Safety Eric Weddle, pictured, and the Baltimore Ravens enter the bye week on a four-game losing streak.