Certainly no one could have forseen the horror that was to ensue after the starting kickoff a few hours ago. You had a team in Baltimore that was being talked about as one of the elite in the AFC going against a team that had lost it’s last five in a row with few options on a sputtering offense.
Halloween came a week early because this game was a nightmare for Ravens fans.
Here are my thoughts on tonight’s loss. I’ll keep the expletives to a minimum.
- Where do I begin? I’ll start by congratulating the Jacksonville Jaguars. Their defensive plan was textbook in how to defeat the Ravens offense. Limit Ray Rice’s touches, get physical with the receivers and attempt to get pressure with your front four. Zero First Downs by Baltimore in the First Half and just One Yard Passing. Their offensive plan was simple. A steady diet of Jones-Drew all night long. He averaged 3.5 yards a clip – just enough to keep Blaine Gabbert from having to do much of anything to screw up the win by throwing an ill-advised interception late.
- The Offensive line was awful tonight. It wasn’t until the 4th Quarter that they got any steady pass protection for Flacco nor were they able to open gaps for the backs. I know Andre Gurode is still learning a new position but he didn’t have his best game tonight. Michael Oher is one of the most penalized lineman in the league. His mental and physical errors are tough to watch week after week. Bryant McKinnie looked below average tonight. A mountain of a physical specimen who rarely used his immense frame to get any push on his defender. Jacksonville consistently got pressure with only Four rushers – that’s never a good sign.
- Ray Rice. He had one of his worst outings as a pro tonight. Questionable ball security and his touches were limited. He was never into the flow of the offense. Could we put some of that on the playcalling?
- I wish teams would stop reading my post game comments. Stopping the Ravens offense begins with stopping Ray Rice. Rice touched the ball 13 times (8 carries for 28 yds, 5 passes for 35 yds.) That simply won’t get the job done.
- The passing game was putrid until that last drive. It was part bad line play but Flacco’s receivers were totally taken away from him as the Jags pressed at the line and were very aggressive in coverage. That said Flacco has to bear some of the blame even though he had a Jaws/Gruden quote -”muddy pocket” most of the night. Bad interception didn’t help matters either.
- Cam Cameron will no doubt get blasted on talk radio all week and he should to a degree. Where were the adjustments to the press coverage? Rubs, Bunches, etc. to get a guy free to loosen things up in the offense. Execution wasn’t the best so it’s hard for me to lay sole blame on him but he must bear a portion of it. I still have to question why everything is called in from the sideline though. The two minute offense was stalled as Flacco stared at Cam waiting for a play call. Way too much time. So, who’s to blame? I don’t care, blame the entire offense. But someone must be held accountable. We’ve seen this for too long when trying to come from behind.
- I hated John Harbaugh’s decision to go for an Onsides with 2:02 left an two timeouts left. Billy Cundiff is capable of booting the ball into the stands. Why not put Jax on the Twenty with essentially three time outs? You know they will run the ball. That means if you get a stop you get the ball back with plenty of time to set up a game winning Field Goal. Bad move. Instead the Jags ended up with one last long Field Goal to seal the game.
- Speaking of Cundiff he missed another 50 yard attempt that would have won the game if he converted. He’s 0-3 this season from 50+ and 4 for 15 for his career. Ravens could have used one tonight to escape with a win.
- Back in Week Two fans could chalk up the Ravens lackluster effort to the Titans as a Steelers letdown, so what can explain tonight’s loss? It’s now become a disturbing trend for Baltimore not to win games on the road against inferior opponents. This was much more clearly an Offensive loss than a Defensive one though. Does this team need some kind of extra motivation to win (ex. Steelers or Rexy’s Jets) or do they just need the rabid purple faithful behind them? There was plenty of purple visable in Florida tonight. They had little to celebrate. And with that loss Baltimore is now back in the pack with the rest of the contenders in the AFC tied with the surprising Bengals at 4-2 and behind Pittsburgh.
- The officials did not lose this game tonight. But let’s face it they were awful. They had no idea how to rule a fumble. The Ravens had to use two challenges- that they won based on improper calls. The Jags also got their turn with it as well -as Jones-Drew was incorrectly assessed a fumble that was overturned. The Bernard Pollard hit was clean and yet it extended not just an eventual scoring drive but a clock chewing drive in the Third. Brendan Ayenbadejo was unfairly ejected but as they say, the second guy always gets caught. Lastly the unexplained whistle that blew while the clock ran down to zero for the last kickoff was unbelievable. Jacksonville had only ten men on the field and should have been a assessed a critical 5-yd penalty. Instead the whistle allowed the Jags to escape penalty and take their time as they set their players.
- (EXTRA POINT) After having some time to sleep on it, this offensive performance may have to rank as one of the worst all-time in team history. That’s saying something when you think of the gag inducing offensive performances that we’ve witnessed over the years. The offense has been and until further notice always will be what holds this franchise back from returning to a Super Bowl. Cam Cameron was brought back this season under the idea that he would work well under pressure. He’s had some very good moments this season but he, much like his offense has been woefully inconsistent. I can not think of his seat being any hotter than it is right now. I mentioned earlier that Joe Flacco didn’t get much help from his offensive line or receiving crew and while that’s true let me spew a little venom Joe’s way – it’s time to lead! It’s time to ditch the excuses. You wonder why fans, players, and pundits ripped you over the off-season? Here’s at least one reason, there are times when your cool demeanor is interpreted as passionless. If fans see it that way I can only wonder how teammates view it. It’s been mentioned before that leaders inspire their teammates and I don’t see Joe doing that. Pick an emotion, any emotion and it would have been a welcome change from the vacant expression that he brought to the sidelines after going Three and Out over and over and over again. Lastly Joe, if you want that contract extension you need to go earn it and that means every week.
- (SECOND EXTRA POINT) How did I forget these two boneheaded plays on Special Teams? Ed Reed. I love you Ed but you shouldn’t be back on punt return. I think the poor zebras gave us a break in not calling that Reed touched the ball after he called fair catch and then attempted to scoop it up. I had no idea where he though he was running. Second Paul Kruger. Paul, I’m excited that you are getting to the QB and allowing me to use my “BLITZKREIG MIT KRUGER!” yell (pat pending) but you can not run into the punter. It allowed the deadly leg of Scobee Doo to nail another long Field Goal which turned out to be the game winner. Discipline.