Without a doubt, the Ravens have been negatively impacted by injuries this season. Shutdown cornerback Jimmy Smith’s achilles tear pushed their injured reserve list to 16 players. The loss of all-pro guard Marshal Yanda in Week 2 cannot be overstated. Not to mention, the absence of promising slot cornerback Tavon Young has been felt at times this year.
After those three, the other thirteen players with season ending injures include only a few proven performers. Willie Henry has made more plays this season than Brent Urban has over his entire career. Quietly, James Hurst has been an upgrade over Alex Lewis at left guard. Nick Boyle has assumed the role of blocking tight end in Crockett Gillmore’s absence. Matt Skura has exceeded all reasonable expectations of rookie Nico Siragusa while filling in admirably for Yanda at right guard. And Kenneth Dixon has been an afterthought due to the emergence of electrifying back Alex Collins, and steady performer Javorius Allen. The other eight remaining injured players are little more than training camp fodder.
The truth of the matter is that almost all teams suffer multiple impactful injuries. The conference leading Steelers just beat the Ravens without their best defensive player, Ryan Shazier, as well as top corner Joe Haden. The Patriots have won ten games without Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower and Marcus Cannon. The Chargers have seven wins with extremely minimal contributions from their top two draft picks, Mike Williams and Forrest Lamp. The Chiefs also have seven wins without all-pro Eric Berry, Spencer Ware and Dee Ford. Jacksonville has earned nine wins without top receiver Allen Robinson, while Leonard Fournette has also missed time. Houston’s season was completely derailed by serious injuries to several Pro Bowl caliber players, including Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. And these are only the AFC contenders, injuries have affected almost every team across the league.
The Ravens have faced six backup quarterbacks this season, winning four. Naturally, they will face shorthanded teams over the final three games as well. The Browns will be without All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas, linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. In week 16, Indianapolis will be without franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and star rookie safety Malik Hooker. To close out the regular season, the Bengals will be without tight end Tyler Eifert, receiver John Ross, tackle Jake Fisher and corner Adam Jones.
Playoff worthy teams find a way to win these types of games, especially with two at home and the other against a winless team. The Ravens have positioned themselves to make the postseason and have an extremely favorable schedule. Even without Yanda, Smith and Young they should be playing meaningful games in January.
Any plan that was predicated on perfect injury luck was doomed to fail. If the Ravens do not snap their two season playoff drought, their leaders must be held accountable. The front office for constructing a flawed roster and the coaching staff for devising unsuccessful schemes. If not, and Steve Biscotti places the blame for another mediocre season on injuries, he risks losing the support of the Baltimore fanbase.