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Any Given Sunday...or Monday...

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It is hard to stomach what happened to our beloved Baltimore Ravens Monday night in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. The coaching was suspect. Ray Rice had his worst game as a Raven and our receivers couldn't get open to save their lives. Worst of all it was done on a national stage for every one to see. I feel what you all feel, embarrassment.

Over the past few years, in the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens have done one thing very well, which is to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. This year things seem to be a bit different. Maybe it is the youthful ignorance of our players and coaching staff or maybe it's just this year's Ravens inexperience on offense. In the past, however, when faced with adversity on the road, against an inferior opponent playing above expectations, we have had crafty veterans like Derrick Mason, Todd Heap and Willis McGahee out there to calm things down and get everyone back to the basics of playing football. We have veterans now but they just don't have the chemistry of a football team that has been through war together. This team for the most part is still figuring out who they are and how to react as a group to these tough and confusing situations.

There is nothing easy about playing on the road in the NFL. Especially on Monday Night Football. On Monday night the Ravens played a team that had their number on the offensive side of the ball. They knew our formations and they knew the plays we could run out of those formations. There is plenty of blame to be passed around but let's give credit to Jacksonville, they came in with a great defensive game plan and they executed it to perfection. The Ravens have two losses on the year and in each one the offense has been manhandled at just about every position. It seems that when the chips are down and the other team has their crowd behind them our Ravens just do not have what it takes to turn it up a notch and push back. To me, that shows a group that has not fully come together yet. These Ravens are young on offense and still need to figure out an identity. Players like Ray Rice are trying to change that and hopefully they will but right now they, as a group, are lost.  By no means however does that mean they will not figure it out.

The biggest problem our offense has is that we can not make in-game adjustments. Last week against Houston the Ravens adjusted their running game in the second half. This was brought up in the after game press conference as if it would be a big turning point in the offensive scheming of Cam Cameron. I could be wrong but shouldn't in-game adjustments be something that happens every game and a normal part of NFL football? Our problem against Jacksonville and Tennessee was that once they figured out how to stop our offense, that was it. We were done. What happened to the trick plays? At some point last night they had to think that the plays they were running just weren't getting it done. How is it so easy for others to look at us and read us like a book but so hard for us to look in the mirror?

On the other side of the ball, Baltimore has the best defense in the NFL by far. There were a few questionable penalties that kept key drives going for the Jaguars but other than that our defense was lights-out. There is no question about it the Ravens have a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Paul Kruger seems to be coming into his own and Bernard Pollard has been a great addition. Add that to our core of Pro Bowl veterans and  young players like Terrence Cody, Pernell McPhee and Jimmy Smith ready to blossom, Ravens fans have much to look forward to.

The NFL is gearing their league towards parity and that is exactly what they are getting. These same two and five Jaguars almost beat Pittsburgh at home a few weeks ago and so did the hapless Colts. Anybody can beat anybody  in today's NFL, lets just hope that this week was our last reminder of that. It is a game of inches and this week the Ravens came just a few short on multiple occasions. That is good enough to lose you a game on any given Sunday...or Monday.