Here’s another question for the Ravens, as they absorb the aftermath of their latest gut-wrenching loss.
Is this rock bottom? Or will the Ravens finish the 2015 season with a worse record than they could have ever imagined, looking like a franchise that needs to rebuild, not reload?
Monday night’s 26-18 loss to the Cardinals dropped the Ravens to 1-6, sharing the worst record in the NFL with the Lions. When the season began, who thought the Ravens would enter Week 8 with a worse record than the Titans, Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Browns?
It’s not like the Ravens are quitting. They almost pulled off a major comeback in the fourth quarter Monday night, with Asa Jackson blocking a punt to set up one touchdown, and a last-minute drive that didn’t fizzle out until Joe Flacco threw an interception in the final seconds.
But in today’s parity-driven NFL, you can’t be 1-6 unless you are a bad football team. Especially when you’re not quitting, and when your starting quarterback has been healthy all season.
The Ravens don’t have enough playmakers. They don’t have enough team speed on offense or defense. They don’t have enough quality corners to prevent opposing quarterbacks from finding mismatches they can milk for key completions.
Flacco lamented the Ravens’ lack of explosiveness after Monday’s loss.
“On offense, we don’t quite have the explosiveness to take drives over and score quickly, get big chunks consistently,” Flacco said following Monday’s game.
You can talk about how close the Ravens’ losses have been. You can certainly talk about how bad the officiating was Monday night. Ravens guard John Urschel did almost everything except breakdance to get the officials’ attention that he was reporting as an eligible receiver, yet the Ravens were called for an illegal formation. Chris Johnson’s forward progress was stopped on his 62-yard run. That play should have been blown dead when Johnson was lying on top of Ravens’ defensive tackle Brandon Williams.
But the Ravens have become adept at finding different ways to lose. Whether it’s a turnover, a blown assignment, or a missed opportunity, the Ravens hurt themselves over and over, week after week. They have the fortitude, but not the talent to overcome key mistakes.
“Turnovers, we aren’t getting enough, and we have too many,” said coach John Harbaugh. “Those are the areas that we have to get better at. One thing about us right now, we’re the kind of team that has to minimize mistakes, and we have to execute. And we’re going to be forced to develop the ability to do that with perfection. In the long run, that’s going to be good for us.”
But in the short run, the process could be painful. The Ravens thought the last two months of this season would be about making a playoff push. Instead, the front office and Harbaugh need to figure out why they thought the 2015 Ravens would be so much better than they really are.