Sitting uncharacteristically at 3-4, the Baltimore Ravens head into Week 8 of the NFL season with a Bye.
Fortunately, a week of rest couldn’t have come at a better time for this team struggling on all sides of the ball. However all problems start at the top, and Head Coach John Harbaugh must shoulder much of the blame for the team’s current state of being under .500 halfway into the season. This break will give Harbaugh and his staff time to mull over all the issues with the squad, and boy are there lots to go over, and figure out solutions to fix their struggles.
Ranked 21st overall in the league, the Ravens offense puts up just 328.7 yards per game and 21.4 points per game. Although the loss of Anquan Boldin to a trade and Dennis Pitta to an injury has interrupted the chemistry of Joe Flacco, the biggest issue seems to be with the offensive line. Their inability to block for both pass and run plays have really caused a setback for this unit. Flacco is getting sacked and hurried way too much, while Rice hasn’t been able to eclipse 100 yards rushing yards in a game this entire season. While the front office did make a move by trading for veteran LT Eugene Monroe to replace the struggling Bryant McKinnie, there are still major flaws within the entire line. The Offensive Coordinator and his crew may need to revert back to their old blocking scheme and dump this zone blocking scheme they’ve implemented under new line coach Juan Castillo. Whatever the problem is, they need to figure it out quick.
Currently standing 14th overall in the league, the Ravens defense hasn’t been playing up to par with the caliber of talent they posses. Although much of the problem may be attributed to fatigue from the offense’s struggle to maintain time of possession, the defense needs to stop surrendering to big plays, stuff the run, and have better sync in the backfield. Along with the offense, the defense also starts out slow and sluggish. They need to play with more urgency and intensity out of the gates. The bright side is that the defense is the much better playing unit on this team, and as they mesh better and progress, they have the potential to carry the offense the rest of the season. Fun fact: the Ravens are 2nd in the league in sacks, with 25.
We’ve seen it all this year: missed field goals to ultimately cost a game, ugly punts, mediocre kickoff returns, sloppy kickoff coverage, and failed surprise onside kicks. Great special teams play can really help be the x-factor and momentum changers in a game. Unfortunately for the Ravens, the performance of their unit has typically resulted in favors against them. Fingers can be pointed all around for this, including the Head Coac, special teams coach, and players. They really need to put a bigger emphasis on special teams play to create a spark for this otherwise lukewarm offense.
Needed Rest All Around
As a die-hard Ravens fan, it’s hard to watch the defending Super Bowl champions play right now, and so as much as I love this team, I am actually looking forward to not watching them play this Sunday for their own sake. They need to go back to the drawing board, have a deep look at themselves and their identity, and re-energize their body and minds to come back for a 2nd half run.
So this weekend, I will try and enjoy watching some football without stressing for once. But if you’re one of those people that just can’t watch sports without having something on the line, check out this week’s NFL betting lines to spice up your Raven-less football weekend. And who says blowout games are always boring? If you’re daring enough, try betting on the 49ers vs Jaguars game, where San Francisco is favored by 16.5 points.