Ravens’ Super Bowl Aspirations Very Much Alive
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By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens are currently on a three game losing streak. They’ve gone from contenders to pretenders in less than a month’s time, but that hasn’t stalled the confidence Harbaugh has in this unit. He knows what is holding this team back and he firmly believes that Baltimore can still get the job done.
“The most important thing to understand is that every goal that we have, starting with our first goal which is to win the AFC North is in front of us,” said Harbaugh on Sunday. “It’s still there, and every dream that we have, which is the ultimate dream is still available to us. And that’s what you keep in mind. It’s a tough league for tough guys, and you have to find a way to put it behind you, improve, address the issues, own them and move on. That’s what we plan on doing. That’s really the message. It’s going to be the message now. It’s going to be the message next week. It’s going to be the message going forward. That’s where we are at, and that’s how we see it. That’s what we’re planning on doing.”
Harbaugh is absolutely correct in his assessment of the team at this point. It’s no secret that injuries have held this team back considerably. This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball. Baltimore has already lost Jameel McClain for the season, but they still hope to regain the services of Ray Lewis. That’ll be huge for the defense. The Ravens are also awaiting the return of Dannell Ellerbe and Bernard Pollard. Sometimes it’s not the best team that makes it the furthest in the postseason. Often times it’s the healthiest.
“We know we have to get better, and we have to get healthy,” stated Harbaugh in a press conference on Monday.
Often times the two tasks go hand in hand. But health isn’t the only concern in Baltimore. The Ravens play at offensive line this season has been close to embarrassing. The blame falls on everyone but the microscope has been fixed on Michael Oher. Simply put, he’s struggled on the Left Tackle spot. And while the Ravens are aware of the issue, they have chosen to leave the line intact for the most part. For Baltimore to improve, this will need to change.
Bryant McKinnie is better suited to play the LT position, but has been in Harbaugh’s doghouse for most of the season. This can be attributed to coming into camp out of shape and performing poorly in practice, but the grudge between the two must come to an end for the sake of the offense. Oher performs better at RT than any other position. Moving him there and keeping McKinnie to cover Flacco’s blind side could make a huge difference in keeping the 5th year QB upright. Teams are starting to notice Oher’s struggles and overload the left side on a consistent basis. It’ll be up to Harbaugh to make the change, and time is running out.
For now, Harbaugh will preach to his team the importance of not losing focus with just two games to go. And as he alluded to on Monday, there have been plenty of teams that have been caught up in similar slumps in the past. The Giants and Packers were two teams over the past couple of seasons that went through similar incidences. Both went on to win Super Bowl.
“We have mentioned that,” Harbaugh told the media. “We do give history lessons quite often; sometimes it’s National Football League history and sometimes it’s real history. We’ve seen it all this year. We’ve had injuries, we’ve had adversity, we’ve had exhilaration, and we’ve had great moments. So, that’s what a season is made of, and the team that navigates all these things the best in the end will be the one true champion. That’s in front of us. We know what our goals are.”
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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.