No, this isn’t an overreaction anymore. Yes, there is something very wrong with the Ravens and it needs to be called out.
The Baltimore Ravens aren’t some struggling team, instead they are a model franchise who have dropped from the graces of stardom.
The more talented Ravens are on the wrong side of thirty. The most vital and important starters are nursing injuries. The young guns can’t fit the mold.
First and foremost, it starts in the trenches. Anybody who understands the game of football knows this.
The Ravens with Ronnie Stanley, 3-0. Without Ronnie, 0-4. May be a bit of coincidence in there but no doubt there’s also some truth. The Ravens aren’t producing any sort of blocking with backup left tackles. It’s been the same story for almost three years now. Also losing Marshal Yanda didn’t give the Ravens any favors.
When the offensive line is a dumpster fire, the rest of the offense follows. Lack of running lanes leaves the tailbacks incapable of success. Without pass blocking this leaves the wide receivers less time to become open. Without pass blocking the quarterback has less of a chance to survive in a crumbling pocket to throw downfield.
The trenches are the most important aspect of football. Look at Dallas. They spent years bolstering their offensive line through the draft. Finally, they selected skill position players to utilize this and the payoff is clear. Ezekiel Elliott is hitting the second level and Dak Prescott is being argued over Tony Romo. That’s what an offensive line does. Baltimore is playing a fourth round rookie to protect Joe. They’re doing this over ‘veteran’ James Hurst. There is no good choice here, only bad & worse. The Ravens are crumbling up front and it hurts everybody.
Not like it’s the only problem on the team, but it is the most critical.
Defensively, it looks to be the same. Brandon Williams is capable of all the run-stopping in the world, but teams aren’t looking to run up the middle. They’ll instead attack the two outside linebackers that are filling in for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. These teams know there are weaknesses and it’d be foolish to not exploit them. Baltimore can’t cover more than one receiver at any given point and they also cannot hit the quarterback enough. Just like the offensive line, the problems are the same.
Without the pressure, runners can go free. Without the pressure, the receivers are given more time to get open. Without the pressure, quarterbacks can sit in the pocket and deliver better passes.
It’s a reoccuring theme. Baltimore can’t pressure the opposition while also incapable of stopping others pressure. A recipe for football disaster.
I’ve always believed football is about three important details.
- Having a quarterback: If you have an NFL quarterback your chances of success are obviously high. With a quarterback your team always stands a chance.
- Protecting your quarterback: Having an NFL quarterback means nothing if you cannot protect him. Look at Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco and Matt Stafford. All quarterbacks that are capable of success, but can’t do so when hit hundreds of times per season. You need to get guys to protect him.
- Attacking the others quarterback: Hit their quarterback and the rest will follow. For example, the Baltimore Ravens were doing so in 2014. Dumervil and Suggs outright punished quarterbacks and if not for the snap-throw passes from Tom Brady may have reached a second Superbowl. Remember the Ravens were so volitale in the pass rush people forgot they were using practice squad cornerbacks.
The NFL draft helps to show this is something important. The last player to not be a passrusher, tackle or quarterback with the first pick of the NFL draft was WR Keyshawn Johnson back in 1996. That’s twenty years of rules one, two and three. Get a QB, protect the QB and hit theirs. Obviously that is simplified, but let’s not act like Super Bowl winning franchises aren’t doing exactly that.
The Ravens are missing two and three, which exposes one. This isn’t on Flacco, or a coach. It isn’t from the offensive line alone. It’s a complete failure on all aspects of the franchise, which does rest upon the entire front offices shoulders. Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and the rest of the scouting crew needs to figure out how to build a squad with success.
So yes, the sky is falling. The Ravens aren’t going to be successful with mediocre passrushing and non-existent blocking.