No Holding Back: Ravens lack heart, fight, desire to win

Note: If you are one of the optimistic Ravens fans that believe the season is still salvageable, than this post is not for you. I commend you for believing, but you don’t want to read what I am about to write. Nothing against you, but this team has broken my final straw.

Remember when “Play Like A Raven” was ringing throughout Maryland? Remember when that same team used to find ways to win, no matter how difficult they made it? I know I do. The Baltimore Ravens were once a team that used to punch teams in the mouth like the bully on the playground stealing a kids lunch money. Now, they look like that poor helpless soul panicking to hide said money in their gym sock in the hopes that the bully will leave them alone. The Ravens used to be one of those bullies in the AFC North. Now, they are easily the worst team in the division. Even the Cleveland Browns are better, and I’m not sure it’s debatable given yesterdays putrid performance.

There are many areas in which I can critique this team right now. It’s honestly too easy. I will make life easier. Rather than going on a long-winded rant about how pathetic the Ravens look, I will break this down section-by-section with each grievance I have about this team, the coaching staff, and their inability to build competent depth.

Let me start by saying this; Yes, I was one of those people that legitimately thought this team had a chance to go deep in January and make a Super Bowl run. Looking at the roster from the outside in, this was a talented team. Quite frankly, it still is. They have a lot of talent on the sideline dealing with injuries. This is a team that has yet to see what their first round pick has to offer. The team’s unquestioned leader was sidelined for the season during the season-opener against the Denver Broncos. The Ravens do have a cupboard full of talent, but they also have deadweight sitting on the team that must go.

I have a saying I like to use, and the Ravens encompass this very well; “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” That is what this team is doing this season. Trying the same things over and over and expecting the results to change. Well, surprising to no one, the results continue to be the same each and every week. The Ravens have to be thankful Josh Scobee is such an incompetent kicker outside of 40yards or they would be sitting at 0-5 right now. If Ben Roethlisberger was playing, it would have been an absolute massacre at Heinz Field, if we are being honest.

Let’s start with the coaching staff. I don’t know if John Harbaugh has become arrogant or is losing his way, but this is a man who preaches discipline on both sides of the ball. The Ravens have completely lacked discipline on both sides of the ball with sloppy tackling, bad penalties, and consistent playing out of position. We can sit here and blame the coordinators for a lot, and trust me, I will, but at the end of the day, all of this falls back on the head coach. Harbaugh is just as much to blame, if not more, for what is going on. Now, let’s not get hasty here. I am in no way calling for his job here. But he must take a look in the mirror at the end of this season and make the necessary changes not only within himself, but the coaching staff and roster to make this team competitive once again next season. As Pauley (@AMPs_Randomness) said on Twitter, this team is softer than kitten shit, and that is 100% a mentality issue. Harbaugh needs to re-institute that mentality in his team.

Ahhhhhh, now we get to one of my favorite parts; The coordinators! Dean Pees. Here we meet. I have hated your soft, passive play-calling for about three years now, and it hasn’t changed to this day. You inherited nearly the same defense Chuck Pagano made a top-10 defense in 2011, and made it soft. Now, I am a man who gives credit where it is due. He can coach a front seven about as well as anyone. With that being said, his blitzes are so unimaginative and bland. he calls blitzes Pagano and Rex Ryan call in the preseason when you don’t want to show your hand. When Pees does call a good stunt and blitz, the Ravens get sacks. Imagine that! A lot of people argue that the Ravens don’t have the personnel to play aggressively. The secondary is too weak and can’t cover long enough. Here is the thing: when your secondary struggles, you have to get after the quarterback. Make him make quick decisions. Throw off the routes a little bit. I am tired of watching the corners play ten yards off the receivers while Pees sends a four-man rush. That doesn’t add up. You can do that when you have Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil coming off the edge. When you take one of them out of the equation, you have to find ways to get there. I am not saying send seven guys, but my goodness, can you send more than four? And when you do, can you at least disguise it a little better? When Pees does this, there is a lot of success. He just doesn’t do enough of this, and that is the exact reason the Ravens need a change.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows how I have felt for years. I would have fired him years ago. Actually, check that. He wouldn’t have even been my first choice. Teryl Austin was the guy I would have pegged for the job. Dean Pees falls in the line of Greg Mattison for me. Too soft. That is not how the Ravens play defense.

Now we move on to Marc Trestman. Yes, his daughters are hot. That is why nearly every guy in the city of Baltimore was more than happy to see him pegged as the guy to succeed Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator. While the Ravens have put up a solid amount of points this season, there are some underlying issues within this offense. For starters, the route concepts are horrendous at times. These 5-yard out routes on third-and-8 are becoming a bit annoying. Trestman also seems to have fallen in love the screen pass, running it probably five too many times every game. I know he loved doing it with Matt Forte, but could you try something different? Oh, and one more thing. Does every other first down play have to be a play-action throw the flat for a one-yard gain That’s becoming annoying. Truth be told, the Ravens had a chance to put their foot on the Browns’ throat Sunday, but failed to do so with horrible play-calling. We want to act like the Ravens putting up 30 points is a great thing, but this game could have been put away long before the Browns started chewing apart the defense like a large dog does to a dollar store chew toy. Trestman and the offense failed to do so.

Now brings me to the issue of leadership and heart, something this team doesn’t have. The Ravens have never had a shortage of leaders. Since Ray Lewis stepped onto the field in 1996, he was the unquestioned leader of the team. He helped mold Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs into leaders so even when Lewis and Reed moved on, there was still a leader that the players respected. Now that Suggs is away from the team after tearing his Achilles and Haloti Ngata was traded to the Detroit Lions, there are no proven leaders on the roster. Steve Smith certainly is with his fire and desire to win, but outside of him, who? I have been waiting for Joe Flacco to step up as a leader, but at least from the outside looking in, it isn’t evident he can rally the troops together when the chips are stacked against them. Will Hill, Jimmy Smith, CJ Mosley and Daryl Smith are a few other names I had hoped would step in and lead, but I have yet to truly see anyone step up. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe they are leading on the inside. But I don’t see it on the field on Sunday’s.

This is a team that completely lacks heart and the desire to win. If it weren’t for Steve Smith, I am certain they never even sniff getting back into the game against the Bengals. Smith willed that team back into the game.

Let’s take a look on the field while we are at it. We may as well start with Joe Flacco. Flacco gets a slight pass with the Canadian Football League level receivers he has to throw to. With that being said, these last two games have obviously not been his best. He has made some silly mistakes, as we have learned to live with, and he has the pocket awareness of a blind squirrel. On Sunday, instead of simply taking a sack, Flacco fled ten yards backwards before taking the sack, setting the Browns up with even better field position. Ten yards is a big deal at this level, and Flacco cannot continue to keep making these boneheaded mistakes. This is season eight for him, and I still see some of the stupid mistakes that make me want to throw a brick through my television. Now let’s not start the “cute Flacco chants.” That would be ridiculous. He is still a good quarterback, he just needs to clean it up.

Now, to that semi-pro receiving corps. I won’t even discuss Steve Smith because he is one of the few players who has done their job this season. Kamar Aiken has played decently, which is all anyone could have asked. I am taking my sights at Marlon Brown. I want to be nice here, but I simply can’t. This guy has declined sharply since his rookie season in which he caught seven touchdowns. For a 6’5″ receiver, he plays like a 5’8″ one. He doesn’t use his body to his advantage over smaller defenders and couldn’t catch a cold if he was standing in Antarctica with no clothes on. Maybe Brown should spend less time worrying about “White Girl Wednesday” and more time hitting the jugs machine because if I see him drop one more catchable pass, I am going to lose my mind. Darren Waller now has a concussion, so that’s awesome. By the time all these injuries stop, the Ravens will be holding open tryouts at the stadium like the Eagles did in that movie “Invincible.” Hey, maybe I could end up being the Ravens next Julian Edleman. I certainly can’t be a whole lot worse than what they have now! (Yes, that is sarcasm)

The offensive line and defensive lines have been fine lately, so they get spared for this moment, but let’s go ahead and just take care of the secondary as a whole. Jimmy Smith played well Sunday, but has had an up-and-down season. Lardarius Webb is playing better than ANYONE will give him credit. Go ahead and disagree, but if you watch the film closely, he really hasn’t played poorly at all. Not top-notch, but solid. Kyle Arrington is terrible. I sincerely thought he was a solid addition as a nickel corner, but boy was I wrong. This guy plays like a cheap violin. Rashaan Melvin is just as bad as we all remembered after having a strong preseason, and the one semblance of hope was Will Davis, who tore his ACL Sunday. GREAT.Just what this team needs, more injuries. Will Hill has been inconsistent this season, but overall, has played well. He was bad against the Browns, but his overall makeup has been fine. Kendrick Lewis hits hard, but doesn’t do a whole lot more. Poor in coverage, misses tackles. This is like 2013 all over again when the Ravens had two strong safeties back there. Only difference is Will Hill is fine in coverage.

The Ravens are a team with no direction at this point. They have no hope of getting out of this tailspin they are currently in, and the end is not in sight. Realistically, the Ravens would have to finish 9-2 the rest of the season to have a prayer at the playoffs. That is simply not happening. This team looks more like a top-ten pick in the NFL Draft team than they do a playoff team. At some point, fans have to recognize that this season is sunk. This team is heading nowhere fast.

At seasons end, it is time to clean house. With the exception of John Harbaugh, evaluate every coach and send the ones packing that don’t fit into the future. The same goes for players. trade away the ones of value that aren’t part of the future plans, and start building around the core players. Get what value you can, and rebuild. I am tired of seeing the same mistakes over and over again with players that have no passion and fire. This team needs a shift in mentality, and the players who aren’t part of that desire and plan need to hit the bricks. Take a stand and make it happen.

Ravens Beat Themselves And it’s on John Harbaugh’s Shoulders

The Baltimore Ravens fell shamefully 33-30 to the Cleveland Browns today. That is not a typo, it actually happened and I cannot believe it. 

The last time the Browns beat the Ravens in Baltimore was 2007. 2007 was a season much like the first five games of the 2015 campaign, the team was riddled by injuries and rattled by their unfathomable failures. Yes the 1-4 Ravens look more like the 2007 team that finished 5-11, than the team plays away from their 5th AFC Championship game appearance. 

The Ravens were a heavily penalized team today. They kept the officials busy with 12 penalties for 98 yards. Their problems with penalties say everything you need to know; this team has not even an ounce of discipline. 

The Ravens had a 20-9 lead but instead of destroying their division rival destroying their small minuscule piece of hope seemed more fitting. 

The play calling was as horrible as the uninspired performance of the players. The Ravens, who have been credited as one of the best run teams in football, have one of the worst coaching staffs I have ever seen. 

Dean Pees let Josh McCown shatter Cleveland Browns records. A journey man quarterback who has had little to no success threw for 457 yards and 2 touchdowns while Pees sat idly by. He just let it happen, he certainly didn’t seek for answers to the problem. 

Marc Trestman’s play calling was just as laughable. Here is why:

1. Screens are a change of pace that keeps the defense honest in most NFL offenses. Screens are used much more in the Ravens offense. 
2. Three yard passes on 3rd and long are the equivalent of dying without trying. 

3. Lastly, the definition of insanity is expecting different results when you do the same exact thing over and over. That play action pass to the fullback did not work, you can rip that play out of the playbook…or run it until my heart officially breaks. 

All the problems fall on the shoulders of John Harbaugh. Harbaugh fell in love with himself and his arrogance is starting to be more apparent than the lack of receivers on his team. 

A horrible pair of coordinators is going unchecked and unchanged by their boss. Players are continuing to line up in the neutral zone and playing out of position during the play. 

This team has always had the hearts of lions. This edition of Ravens football has the hearts of mice. The Ravens have never made it pretty but found a way to win. This team is making it impossible and finding ways to inexplicably lose. 

Bad play calling, sloppy football and undisciplined players…sounds like coaching is the problem. 

I’m not calling for Harbaugh to be fired (he has built up too much credibility for that no matter what the Ravens record is this season). I am calling for him to hold his players accountable and I am asking him to fire his coordinators.

If this season has taught us one thing it is that you can’t stubbornly ignore your problems. When something isn’t working you have to make changes.    
 

A Purple Reminder

Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens are winless as they approach their week four battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is the unavoidable truth and it hurts. Despite the pain stained start to the season I am a proud Ravens fan. I always have been and I always will be. Other than the New England Patriots there is no fan base that has been as lucky as that of the Baltimore Ravens. We have won 2 Super Bowls. We’ve been to the playoffs 10 times since 2000, and in 6 of the past 7 years we have won a playoff game. There is no getting around it Baltimore, we are pretty spoiled. 
The Buffalo Bills were great in the nineties, and they lost 4 straight Super Bowls. Now there are Bills fans who can’t remember the playoffs. The Jaguars went to two AFC Championship games in the start of their franchise but have been mediocre almost every year since. The Browns and Bengals have had to watch the Ravens (their divisional foe) make playoff runs they could only dream about. Our heart is bruised at the moment but there are teams with much worse gashes in their hearts that will never heal. 

The Ravens have put themselves in a hole. They are fighting for their season in every game. I can’t sit here and tell you everything will be fine. There is little to be confident at the moment. 

What I can tell you is that the Ravens have given us more than any fan could ask for. What I can tell you is that I’m proud to be a Ravens fan; and if there is one team who can defy the gut wrenching odds of 0-3 it is the Baltimore Ravens. Keep Cawing Baltimore, no matter what. 

Ravens Vs. Broncos Preview 

The Baltimore Ravens start their season in Denver. The last time the Ravens were put in this position was the start of the 2013 season when the Ravens got clobbered by 7 Peyton Manning touchdown passes. 

This is a different Ravens team than the 2013 squad that finished 8-8, just scraping out what they could manage. The 2015 Ravens look like Super Bowl contenders, they aren’t afraid of the Broncos. 

The Broncos are a pretty good team as well. When you look at Peyton Manning you know he is still capable of doing some incredible things. The Broncos still have Demaryius Thomas and big play capability. Their defense is loaded with talent. The Ravens have their work cut out for them. 

You know how this game is supposed to go. Peyton is supposed to school the Ravens and the football world celebtates the loss of the “Bad Guys.” Well the Ravens are coming for the Broncos and they don’t really care about being underdogs. 

The Ravens offense is going to make a definitive statement to the rest of the National Football League on Sunday. The Ravens have perhaps the most dominant offensive line in football. Two Pro-Bowl caliber guards in Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemele lead the way for the Ravens rushing attack. 

If the Ravens can establish their ground attack (and they believe they can do it against anyone) the Ravens should be able to sustain long drives. 

The defense will knock Manning out of his rhythm and the Ravens will come up with just enough stops to win.  

Friday 4 Downs With Chris

Chris Schisler

The good news is that football is back in full swing. Last night the College Football season got underway in an entertaining fashion. I want to share my thoughts on last nights games, the Brady suspension being uplifted and of course some Ravens talk. We have a ton to talk about, so let’s get into it. 

1st Down: Last Nights Games

The most entertaining contest of the evening was probably the border battle between South Carolina and North Carolina. It was a defensive stranglehold that the Gamecocks won 17-13. A long touchdown run by Shon Carson was the difference. But two end zone interceptions, giving up a fake punt and dropping a would be pick six did not halp the Tar Heels 

Jim Harbaugh lost his debut as the Michigan head coach. That said it was a tough battle against Utah. Utah won the game 24-17. The Michigan offense was incredibly limited because of the poor play of Jake Rudock. Rudock had no accuracy. He failed to connect on any deep balls that were honestly their for the taking. The Woulverines went to the short passing game but that was just as dissapointing. One thing is clear though this Michigan team fights. The hard nosed attitude of Harbaugh was reflected in his team. 

TCU won a tough game agaist the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It looked like the same explosive Horned Frog team. The number 2 TCU team did not rack up style points so they have to hope that Minnesota has a good season. 

2nd Down: Down Goes Goodell

In this “Deflate Gate” scenario, both Tom Brady and Roger Goodell are villians. Its like a battle between Darth Vader and the Sith Lord. Let me be perfectly clear, Brady is by no means innocent but the suspension was rightfully uplifted. 

Roger Goodell loses every case in federal court because he is an asinine ego maniac who employs nothing but yes men. The owners don’t care about his inadequacy and they will not care until it hurts their bottom line. Roger Goodell though is his own worst enemy. 

Based on a very weak and vague report by Ted Wells, the league put together a Tom Brady witch hunt. They put together a case with only circumstantial evidence and bogously compared Brady’s alleged infraction to performance enhancing drugs. The rules merit a fine, Goodell tried to hammer home a four game suspension. 

Judge Berman did not say that Brady was innocent. He ruled that the process in which the NFL investigated Brady was faulty and unfair. Roger Goodell is essentially the bigger jerk in this situation. 

There has never been a sentence more laced with BS than “We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game.” If Roger Goodell had a single ounce of integrity he would give up the fight. But nope, we need to talk about this for another calender year… great. 

3rd Down: Goodell Is A Coward

Okay, you already know how I feel about Goodell. But that spineless leader of the NFL isn’t even going to attend the NFL season opener in New England. Are you kidding me? 

Roger Goodell goes to every season opener. He was certainly there with bells on when he stole the opening game away from the reigning champion Baltimore Ravens. On the NFL’s big night he is going to be absent. 

We get it. New England hates you. We understand that it is a hostile enviorment. But you’re the commisioner of the NFL. Take your boos, trust your security team and grow a pair, Mr. Goodell. 

4th Down: Predicting the 53 man Roster of the Ravens 

QB: Joe Flacco, Matt Schuab

RB: Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen

WR: Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Micheal Campanaro, Perriman, Darren Waller, Marlon Brown

TE: Crockett Gilmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle

OL: Eugune Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Marshall Yanda, Jeremy Zuttah, Rick Wagner, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst, John Urschell 

DL: Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Williams, Carl Davis, Chris Canty, DeAngelo Tyson, Lawrence Guy, Kappron Lewis-Moore

LB: C.J. Mosley, Daryl Smith, Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, Arthur Brown, Zachary Orr, Albert Mclellan 

CB: Jimmy Smith, Ladarius Webb, Kyle Arrington, Rashaan Melvin, Tray Walker, Asa Jackson

S: Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Will Hill, Brynden Trawick, Anthony Levine

Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker

 

Reactions: Ravens Preseason Report

Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the New Orleans Saints in their first preseason game, Thursday night. Here are a few quick reactions to what we saw:

1. The starting offense looked phenomenal; in fact all the starters seemed sharp. The offense marched doen the field, converting on a third down where Joe Flacco showed off his running ability. They even got the ball in the end zone on a fourth and goal burst. It was a flashy start to the preseason. 

2. The offensive line is the real deal. There is no doubt about it. Moving in unison the zone blocking set up big running lanes for the Ravens running backs. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Buck Allen stole the show in their limited work. Taliaferro looked slimmer and had an extra burst. 

3. One of the most impressive moments of the game was when Carl Davis exploded into the backfield and blew up a running back with just his arm. Though it only came in butsts, Davis showed potential to be a beast for years to come. 

On the other hand Kappron Lewis-Moore dissapointed. He had little burst, played with high pad level and took himself out of the play occasionaly. He also had a neutral zone infraction that didn’t help.

4. It was a good moment for Brin Renner, the Ravens rookie quarterback who led the game winning drive. Renner looked rather unimpressive until that final drive, but he came through in the end. His short touchdown run to win the game was a memorable moment that he can always enjoy. Renner probably won’t make the roster. He is an incredibly flawed passer and the Ravens aren’t keeping three quarterbacks. Still it was a nice moment, and it was a fun finish.

5. ZaDarius Smith and Zachary Orr are two of the most impressive players of the game. Smith showed us that despite how raw he is, he has an incredible burst in pursuit of the QB. Orr played solid textbook perfect linebacker in this game. It is telling that he got a lot more time than Arthur Brown. 

It is so good to have RAVENS football back!

 

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