Ravens Are Still Championship Contenders Despite Recent Struggles
By Samuel Njoku
Many expected the Baltimore Ravens to compete for an AFC Championship once again in 2012. After a heartbreaking loss to the Patriots a year ago, it was imperative for Baltimore to take the next step. The Ravens have always been the bridesmaids and never the brides in the postseason. In a wide open AFC, that could certainly change this year.
Currently, the Ravens are (5-2) overall with a 2-0 record in the division. With a gaudy schedule to start the season, many fans would take this record and run with it. But the Ravens could easily be 1-6 with an inconsistent offense and a defense that leaves a lot to be desired. The defense can’t seem to stop the run or the pass so far this season. It’s a complete 180° from years past. The fans can’t believe what their seeing. And the players are completely disgusted.
“We are gelling as a defense,” stated an irate Bernard Pollard. “We are still continuing to gel, but I think it’s to a point now where we have to take a stand. We have to play pissed off. We have to. It’s a must.”
It’s clear that Pollard believes that this team needs a little extra fire. This may be something that they’ve lacked with the loss of Ray Lewis.
“We should be pissed off, and we are pissed off about the way we played,” stated Pollard. The things that we’ve put on film — we own it. We are going to fix it, and I think it starts with the preparation throughout the week. Things are going to change.”
Things most likely will change. With the talent on defense, there will be a time when this team will gel and get things right. Until that happens, it will be up to the offense to carry the team. Something they’ve been unable to do on the road.
Flacco numbers are impressive at home. But on the road, it’s been one ugly outing after another. Some of it has to do with the no-huddle offense. Whether it’s the crowd noise or something else entirely, the no-huddle has been ineffective on the road. Another reason for the struggles on offense rests with the lack of patience as it pertains to running the football. Though the passing game has struggled, the running game has flourished all season. It makes sense for the Ravens to use the run more on the road in order to keep the defense off the field and help Flacco out with a more effective play action attack.
“We probably all saw we could have been a little bit more patient with the run – whether it’s Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce or whoever it is,” Harbaugh said after the loss to the Texans. “We want to get the ball in all of our playmakers’ hands. We probably didn’t do that like we wanted to – whether it’s screens or handing it off to Ray [Rice].”
The Ravens possess five more road games in the season. Three of these five games are played against teams in their division. If Baltimore can’t get their road woes checked, the AFC North title could slip right through their fingers. The bye week is over. And the road to the playoffs begins now. There’s nothing the Ravens can do about the blowout loss to Houston last week. The question that remains: How will they respond?
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.