Ravens Recap: Week Five

The Ravens came up short for the second week in a row at home to the Washington Redskins yesterday.  This loss was particularly heart breaking for Baltimore, who felt they outplayed the Redskins everywhere except the scoreboard, but that’s ultimately all that matters.

Losing back-to-back games at home is never good, and now the Ravens will travel to New Jersey next week to face a Giants team feeling a bit of desperation.

Changes need to be made on offense (more on that below) if the Ravens want to succeed this season.  This defense is too good to waste a season because the offense can’t get it together.

There wasn’t a lot to like against Washington, but here are my main points.

What I Liked

  1. Marc Trestman’s Play Calling.  Trestman did not call a good game yesterday.  The reason I put his play calling as something I liked is because it caused him to be fired early this morning.  Terrance West came out on fire, continuing his strong play since taking over as the feature back a week ago.  The fact that Trestman called only seven run plays after the first quarter is ridiculous.  Trestman consistently under-utilized Joe Flacco’s strong arm even though Baltimore has plenty of field stretching receivers on the roster.
  1. C. J. Mosley Continuing A Strong Year. Through five games this year Mosley has almost doubled (3) his career interceptions (2).  Mosley took a step back in terms of progression and production last year after a Pro Bowl rookie season.  Many analysts saw his pass defense as a major problem going forward.  The game seems slower for Mosley and his confidence appears to be soaring after becoming a leader on the No. 5 defense in the league.
  1. Terrance West’s Production. West has given the Ravens reason to keep him as a feature back for at least the next few weeks, although he ran well against two of the worst run defenses in the league this year.  He will be given two tougher run defenses the next two weeks in the Giants and Jets.  We will have a better understanding of his game going into the bye week.

What I Didn’t Like

  1. Bad Special Teams.  John Harbaugh’s special teams units during his Ravens career have been mostly above average.  He has a strong special teams background and plays a very efficient scheme, that can’t be denied.  Yesterday the Ravens allowed two long returns, one resulting in a long touchdown.  Harbaugh’s special teams rarely give up a long return, let alone two in one game.  Maybe it’s the players that are the problem, because Harbaughs’ scheme has proven itself for a long time.  The fake field goal pass on fourth down was a bone-headed decision, one I hope Harbaugh learns from going forward.  If you’re going to go for it on 4th-and-2, send out your Super Bowl MVP quarterback.
  1. Why Can’t We Score?  10 points against a depleted, weak Redskins defense with the weapons the Ravens have on offense is unacceptable.  Flacco again spread it out to nine different targets, threw the ball 46 times, yet only gained 210 yards and threw one touchdown.  Trestman could not find balance on a team stocked with weapons.  Trestman being fired could be the spark the Ravens need on offense.
  1. Abandoning The Run.  Trestman has done this his entire careerThe Ravens threw the ball 47 times compared to only 19 runs.  West averaged 8.6 yards per carry on 11 runs, but was only given the ball four times after the first quarter.  Kenneth Dixon made his NFL debut to the tune of three carries for negative one yard.  Baltimore needs to find balance on their offense.
  1. Joe Flacco.  Flacco has looked off for two games straight now.  His accuracy has been off and he has not been efficient.  His longest pass went for 15 yards against a defense that was missing two starters in the secondary, along with Josh Norman for part of the first half.  Flacco was noticeably unhappy with Trestman’s offense, and just like with Cam Cameron, Flacco got his way in the end.  The Ravens will do anything to make their Franchise QB happy, and now he must perform.  He has proven he can play well against tough defenses, and he will have two stiff tests in the next two weeks.
  1. Steve Smith Sr.’s Injury.  Injuries happen, it’s unfortunate but it’s also inevitable.  Hopefully Smith Sr. will recover and return soon, because the offense depends on the 37-year old.  When Smith Sr. went down, so did the offense.  The passing game relies too much on Smith Sr.  With the weapons the Ravens employ, there should be no reason that the entire offense is out of sync without him on the field.

Overall Opinion

  • Unlike with the loss against Oakland, this loss didn’t have too much optimism.  Holding an offense like Washington to 10 total points (six from special teams) should be enough to win a game at home.  The inability to score 17 points on a weak defense is concerning.  Flacco needs to sharpen his game, and the Ravens need to run the ball more.  The defense has been a bright spot and is solid from top to bottom.  They made enough plays to win the game.  The offense did not, and needs to turn up the heat with two more games before the mid-season bye.

Week Six Preview

  • The Ravens head to the Meadowlands to face a reeling New York Giants squad coming off three straight losses. New York has dangerous potential on offense and a revamped defense.  The Giants spent big on their defensive line and secondary and made drastic improvements over last year.  The Ravens are running out of excuses. They need to tighten up their offense and figure things out over the next two weeks as they have five divisional games after week eight.