The 2011 Baltimore Ravens are an enigma.
Midway through the season they don’t appear to have an identity and don’t seem to really want to acquire one any time soon. The Ravens suck! This was my feeling after the game against the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens are as good as any team in football. That was my feeling after they defeated the Steelers for the second time this season. As someone who believes he knows something about the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens in particular I really believed in fact that they were as good as any team in the league. Well, of course for obvious reasons I have since taken back that statement.
The Ravens were coming off a huge victory against the Steelers at Heinz Field. They had to travel to the Pacific Northwest and play before one of the most difficult crowds in the NFL. Apparently the biggest factor, which seems to be contributing to their losing efforts is lack of motivation. The teams they have lost to so far this season have a combined record of 11–16. The Titans are the only team currently with a winning record at 5–4.
During the preseason the Ravens gave many fans reason to believe that the offense, after so many seasons of playing as though they were operating with one candle in a dimly lit hallway came out with a major jolt of electricity against the Washington Redskins. Newly acquired wide receiver Lee Evans played like he was shot out of a cannon. The entire team was playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
The first game of the season was home against the Steelers. After last year’s playoff game in which the Ravens squandered a 21 point lead to end up losing by a touchdown, there was plenty of motivation. The game that was played on the field brought the entire team, particularly Joe Flacco enormous praise from many fans and members of the media. At times during the game the Ravens were responsible for making the Steelers look inept, old, and just downright silly. They followed up that performance with a lackluster outing against the Titans.
In week 2 Matt Hasselback had his best performance through last weekend against the Ravens completing over 70% of his passes and throwing for over 350 yards. Ravens faithful were sent reeling from this huge defeat. The euphoria of the week one victory quickly wore off. That was the only time the entire team played with reckless abandon for four quarters. The Ravens as a team have not been the same since. The offense has played well at times, yet putting together any more than three solid performances in a row is full of challenges. The offense more than any other part of the team is searching for an identity.
Generally speaking, the defense has played pretty well this season. They’ve had their lapses, several of which took place against the Seahawks but they are a dependable group. We haven’t lost a game yet because of the defense. Special teams have not played well this year. Returning punts and kickoffs has become a real glaring weakness on this team.
With seven games remaining in the season they sit at 6–3. The next two games are at home. Sunday the Bengals come to town. Their offense is ranked 24th and their defense is ranked 4th. Marvin Lewis always seems to do a very good job of giving the Ravens fits on offense with the way he uses his defensive schemes. The Ravens know this all too well. Maybe Harbaugh could use this as a motivational tool to extract a victory. The following week the San Francisco Forty Niners will be in Baltimore to play on Thanksgiving evening.