The 2015 Ravens are dead.
The season is over! It sucks so much to say that in Week 6 that I'm just going to curl into a ball and fall to the ground. Oh, what's this? How did all of Marlon Brown's dropped passes get under my couch? I'd say I couldn't feel lower but that's not true: I could be buried with the Ravens' SB hopes. So, how did we get here? We know exactly how, but let's take a quick peek over the season and hope we gain some closure from doing so.
Denver Broncos (6-0)
It started with a blow from a tough, respected opponent, but there was dignity in that loss and it was perfectly acceptable, everything went as expected. We all wanted to win it but there were [probably] no tears shed. If there were, they stemmed from the loss of a key piece and beloved member: Mr. Sizzle. Losing the face of your defense, no matter how ugly that face may be, is a tough challenge for any team to overcome but we didn't think it would be that bad... right?
We stand proud in defeat. 0-1
Oakland Raiders (2-3)
We got sucker punched in Week 2 by a young, ambitious team with talent and a mission to silence the derisive laughter that always accompanied talk of their chances of measurable success. Our flaws that would doom this team were revealed to us, and the rest of the football world that day, but there was hope that we could smooth out the wrinkles and cover the cracks. I had confidence in this team that they would turn it around; so much so that I put it in words emphasizing, to myself as much as others, in staying calm. Check it out if you want to get a laugh at my expense. What a fool I was.
Our knees wobble and shake, humbled. 0-2
Cincinnati Bengals (6-0)
We tried to shake off the surprising loss and grab our first win at home, but our foe was a talented divisional opponent who has had our number recently. Spirits weren't exactly high. A flaccid first half didn't do anything to help raise them. Then, suddenly, the Ravens came alive and it became a close contest! The offense *cough* Steve Smith *cough* started to pick it up and suddenly it was the defense making a huge play to give us the lead, like it was Week 1 all over again! But it wasn't meant to be. The foundation was too flawed and the weaknesses too ingrained for us to overcome. They were all brought up again to the surface, raw and festering, when A.J Green burnt Kendrick Lewis, breaking tackles (and the Ravens' back) for an 81-yard TD. There was no overcoming that and we fell for the third time in a row.
We lay flat on backs with blood in our mouth and the world spinning in our eyes. 0-3
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
This is where I should have given in to the pessimism and despair created by this team. I would have hardly been blamed for it and I constantly asked myself why I hadn't. It made no sense in believing we would suddenly turn it around and I started wondering if something was wrong with me for having faith in a team that had let me down 3 times in a row in painfully varying, but similar, fashion. Yet, I was optimistic about our chances in winning against our most hated, but most respected rival and begin turning this season around. That a win would help spark this team and, in addition to some tweaks, help get them performing closer to what we expected was silly to believe, in retrospect, but I couldn't help myself from clinging to this small hope. I just wanted the Ravens to be good, damn it! We ended up winning in a tough, often frustrating game in which we needed their kicker to miss some key FGs to secure the win against a backup QB. It was not an encouraging victory but a win is a win... though even that small relief proved to be a trap as to maxamize the potential pain that would be inflicted next week.
We drunkenly rise to our feet in a feeble, and ultimately pointless, attempt to save our season. 1-3
Cleveland Browns (2-4)
The Cleveland Browns. A franchise that has been at, or near, the bottom of the league for years. A franchise that is constantly being laughed at for their failures both on and off the field, and whose fans are more than familiar with the feeling of defeat. They have taken some strides recently (despite drafting Johnny Manziel) and haven't looked like the uncompetitive squads of Browns past. They still have a long way to go as they are willfully employing Josh McCown as a starting NFL QB while pairing him with one of the least intimidating receiving corps in the entire league. One that is missing their "top target" in Dwayne Bowe. We gave up 457 yards to this group. 457 yards to Josh McCown. The offense could have been better but the blame lies on a defense that mounted no resistance. We lost, at home, to the Cleveland Browns for the first time in 8 years. It really could have been anyone but of course it was the (1-3) Browns. This was not the killing blow to our season but it might as well have been.
The Browns knock us to our knees, kick us onto our backs, and drive the dagger into our chest, inches from our heart. 1-4
San Fransisco 49ers (2-4)
That brings us to today, against the former (1-4) 49ers. Though the game isn't played on paper, statistically these 49ers were trash. The 29th ranked offense backed up by the 31st ranked defense. There wasn't much hope that the Ravens could save their season but even that miniscule speck was extinguished today after they dropped the best chance at a win they will have over the remainder of their season. This one was a little special compared to the other defeats as it was a complete and total team loss. Where in every other defeat you could put the majority of the blame on one group and pepper the other with smaller, but still notable, complaints; the performance here was meticulously balanced to perfectly hammer in the point that this Ravens' team isn't good. Joe threw two awful interceptions. Steve dropped two easy TDs. The run game was fruitless. The secondary was useless. The play calling was dubious. We gave up a 50-yard reception to a FB! Wasted timeouts. Receivers struggled to get open when we needed them the most. AND PEOPLE WERE JOGGING TO THE LINE WITH THE GAME STILL IN THE AIR! All of these things combined together with a Tucker slip-n'-miss and some other bad luck, caused this loss. There were good things too, especially the rest of SSSR day and Joe's second half but it wasn't enough to overcome everything.
After a few hours of vain struggle, the heel of an old foe from happier times is placed upon the hilt of the knife and, with the help of some former allies, the blade is driven further down into our chest, piercing our heart. 1-5
The blemishes of this team that were put on display by the Raiders and then subsequently abused by the Bengals were not surface level cracks... they went right through the foundation. The Browns confirmed that: this defense is broken. A passive scheme with awful tackling, poor discipline, atrocious coverage, bad communication, terrible teamwork; I could go on-and-on on what they're doing wrong but I only need to say one thing that summarizes what we know about this defense: It just looks too easy. Pees' defenses have always been pliable but have never been this consistently soft, this invisible, this submissive. We simply can't stop anyone. That's on the players, that's on the coaches. Changes should be made, they have to be made. It's too late for it to help this season but at least we can see what improvements we can make before next year.
The offense is not blamless either. It has its own flaws and has had opportunities to win us games, despite the defense. It has made its share of mistakes that have cost us potential wins and generally could be a better, more concise unit. It's hard for me to feel too disappointed or upset at this group, however. They weren't supposed to be a juggernaut, to carry the burden of winning games. It was built to run the ball, control the clock, to complement the defense. It was supposed to be allowed to struggle somewhat, to make mistakes, and just try to improve as the games piled up. It has failed in several respects, just as a sponge would when asked to stem a flood.
The only thing left is for those on IR to rehab injuries, young players to gain experience, to develop chemistry among those who will be back next season, and to look for the positives in each remaining game. I still want us to go out there and try to win every single one for the rest of the season, regardless of its "meaningless" nature. I want every single win we can manage to get. If we fuck over other people's playoff hopes, even better. I'd love 8-8 and happily nail it to my wall at this point. I doubt we even get to that because, with the season on the line, this team dropped games against two of the worst teams in the league which, combined with our record, makes us the worst team in the NFL. Wow. That really sucks.