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Are the coaches really the ones to blame for the Ravens struggles?

Baltimore Ravens v New York Giants Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Yet again, the Ravens are finding themselves on the wrong end of close games.

Through the first five weeks of the season, the offense sputtered under Marc Trestman, who barely used the Ravens emerging running game. Under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, the Ravens offense arguably had its best game, but it still came up short when it mattered most. Head coach John Harbaugh has been thrown under the bus for his decision to go for it on fourth and goal in the fourth quarter, which, if not for a poor block from fullback Kyle Juszczyk, would have scored.

The blame however should not be put on Harbaugh and his aggressive play calling, the blame needs to fall on Joe Flacco. The Ravens were gifted multiple opportunities on Sunday, and failed to capitalize, most notably, Flacco’s overthrow of a wide open Mike Wallace on the last drive of the game. Elite quarterbacks comes through in the clutch when their team needs them the most, Flacco did not.

The same theme rings true in the team’s losses to the Raiders and Redskins. Flacco had a chance to lead a game winning drive in both of these games, and failed both times. Say what you will about Breshad Perriman coming so close to a game winning touchdown in the Redskins game, but Flacco only passed for 210 yards against a secondary that is entrenched in the bottom half of the league in terms of passing yards allowed.

On the season, Flacco has a 57.1 total QBR according to ESPN. That’s good for 19th in the league, which, sadly, is worse than Blaine Gabbert. Flacco has thrown more than 40 passes in every game except for Week 1. Ben Roethlisberger, in the high powered Steelers offense, has only thrown more than 40 passes twice. Making matters worse, he sits at 22nd in the NFL in completion percentage, at 62.1% according to ESPN. That’s worse than Case Keenum. In summary Flacco has been incredibly inefficient this season, and it is hurting the team.

Am I saying to get rid of Flacco? No, Flacco is capable of playing much better than this. In Flacco’s defense, it isn’t his fault the offensive line has been so dinged up. But the offensive line hasn’t been bad enough to serve as an excuse for the above numbers. Flacco has not been efficient, and he has not been there for the team when they need him.

The winning formula should be clear at this point. Run the ball with Terrance West. The Ravens have always been a run-first team, and there is no reason that that should be changing now. Flacco has proven that he is not a quarterback who should be throwing more than 40 passes a game, and Terrance West has proven that he deserves more than 20 touches a game.

This formula will be tested in Week 6 when the Ravens face the New York Jets. The Jets have allowed the fewest yards per game on the ground in the NFL, but the second most yards through the air. This game will be a measuring stick for Flacco. If he can’t get it going against the Jets, it’s fair to wonder if he ever will.