Just in case you haven't heard yet, the Baltimore Ravens are having one of their most disappointing seasons in their 20 years as a franchise. At 1-5, the hopes of a positive season are all but gone for this team. We could even see major changes at the end of the year if things continue to go the way they have been. Even without major coaching changes, it is likely that this is a dramatically different team than you'll see in 2016. So let's look at what happened along the way.
Kyle Barber and myself were both high on this team. With the continuity at so many spots along with a finally healthy secondary, the Ravens looked like world beaters. So much so that we weren't the only ones expecting the Ravens to be a Super Bowl contender. However, I think everyone would look at the roster and say that health was the most important thing for them to have a shot. The depth simply wasn't there and we got a chance to see what this team looked like with injuries back in 2014.
Then the first game of the season happened. Eugene Monroe went down in the first series with a concussion and would end up missing multiple games. Terrell Suggs would hit the turf clutching his leg and we'd learn that he would miss the season because of a torn achilles tendon. As the weeks went one, the Ravens saw more and more injuries, especially in the same secondary that was exploded the season prior.
With arguably even more and varied injuries in 2015, this is not a squad that has a chance to make up for the loss of key members like it did in 2014. With the loss of Suggs, the pass rush went flat. With a poor pass rush, the injuries to the secondary made that unit look even worse than it did last season. Offensively, injuries on the offensive line, wide receiver, and even tight end have left the offense struggling at key moments and trying to find themselves on a week to week basis.
Four coordinators in four years for quarterback Joe Flacco. Most fans look at the end scores and say "the Ravens are hanging 30 points on opponents," which is accurate. However, a new offensive coordinator just hasn't had the time to get to know all of his weapons properly and get comfortable with the quarterback. Look at Denver for a good peak into what changing things up can do to even the best of units. Marc Trestman has done a bit more than just "add new wrinkles" like he promised at the beginning of the season and some of those things have not worked. He has begun to alter his scheme a bit along the way to the things that have been working and we've seen a much better run game because of it. Team up the injuries to the scheme though and you have an offense that stumbles over itself at times when it really needs to be perfect.
Defensively, the Ravens look to be at the end of their leash with coordinator Dean Pees. His defense has been the hardest hit by injuries without a doubt, but Pees seems to put his players at a disadvantage at times and can't create a good gameplan for his opponent. Maybe if the defense was at full strength, we'd see a top-10 defense, but sadly the Ravens sit as one of the worst overall defenses in the league which is helping to drag down the entire team.
As much as fans want to blame the coordinators and coaches, let's be real here. Not a single player on either side of the ball is doing what they need to do. Quarterback Joe Flacco is throwing up two lame ducks against the San Francisco 49ers that kept them in the game and killed Ravens' drives, something that is become too familiar in 2015. Steve Smith is dropping touchdowns like his name is Lee Evans. Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown can't seem to show up on any consistent basis and the offensive line is finally starting to get it's act together enough to be even a shade of what we saw last season.
Linebacker Daryl Smith looks like he might finally be at retirement age while C.J. Mosley can't seem to cover food in cling wrap, much less a running back out of the backfield. The defensive line has been playing well for the most part in run support, but can't get enough push to hold quarterbacks in the pocket or to apply pressure. The pass rush can't get home most of the time and when they do, the quarterbacks have been able to slide to the outside to avoid the pressure that only comes on a single side.
The secondary... oh man... Who can you point out as doing a good job? Jimmy Smith has been burned far too often, Lardarius Webb can't stay healthy and even when he is, he is a nickle corner at this point in his career. The long line of scrubs the Ravens have placed on the other side have been a revolving door of touchdowns, while safety Kendrick Lewis is a ghost on the backend. Safety Will Hill is absolutely the only player back there that deserves his starting job at this point of the season, which means that offenses are picking on the Ravens whenever they like.
I'm sure I'll get a little hate for this, but I don't care who the coordinator is when the players are playing like they are right now. It is lack of effort, lack of caring and lack of talent right now that is hurting the 2015 Ravens more than anything. Even if the other two big issues were fixed, this would still be a mediocre team that would be hoping they could get hot late in the season to make some real noise.
Like I mentioned at the start of the article, this is a team that will look dramatically different next year. A top-10 pick is all but assured at this point and the Ravens will want to clear off as much cap room as possible, especially from players that aren't living up to the hype. The Ravens might even see a few retirements depending on how players feel by the end of the season. It wouldn't shock me to see Terrell Suggs, Dennis Pitta, Daryl Smith, and Steve Smith all call it a career; making up a large portion of the veteran leadership and more consistent players over the last few years.
The Ravens have been so good for so long that they need a reset. Maybe this is the year where the Ravens finally do a hard reset and get rid of some of the fluff they've carried for so long. It'll bring their cap back to a normal number and give them a shot at reloading with some major talent via the draft to add to their young talent core. This can be a team that can attack in free agency like we've seen them do in the past and it might only be a single year or two that the Ravens can't compete with the best of teams in the league. That isn't the worst thing in the world if you are a Ravens fan.