Rob Long: Where Do They Go From Here?
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Everyone seems to have a solution for the Baltimore Ravens. The solutions seem so simple and yet so unattainable. “The Ravens have to fix their run game”. I’m sure they feel the same way but it doesn’t seem to be an easy fix. “The receivers need to get open down field.” That’s exactly right but that’s not happening either. “They need to give Flacco more time to throw”. I’m sure Joe would agree with you but he still looks to be running for his life.
What is going on with this team that has them at 3-5 and in third place in the AFC North? The defense seems to do well until you really need them to buckle down and do well. Then, they give up a 15 play drive that allowed the Cleveland Browns to eat up 6:30 on the clock. That was, by far, the longest drive by the Browns all day. In a time, even if the defense gives up a field goal, they needed to get the ball back to Joe Flacco and company to have a chance to win the game. Instead, they allowed Jason Campbell and the Browns to eat up the clock and take Justin Tucker out of the game.
What’s next for last year’s champs? Does this team resemble one that can go on a run? After losing to the Denver Broncos last year, you would have asked the same question and have the same doubt that you have right now. This team may have more challenges to pull off that type of run because there’s no Ray Lewis announcing his retirement to give them an emotional jolt. Maybe the problems aren’t emotional. Maybe it’s skill but that would suggest that some of the same players who were front and center in last year’s run, have, all of a sudden, fallen off.
Is the issue coaching? That would also suggest that John Harbaugh, after taking this team to the post-season five consecutive years, has lost his touch. Whatever buttons he was able to push in years past no longer exist now and he’s searching for new ways to ignite this group of players.
This team is officially at the halfway point and the next eight games maybe the most crucial eight-game stretch in recent years. If they go 5-3 over the next eight, that would be an improvement but it would only lead to an 8-8 season. That’s the hole that they’ve dug themselves. If nothing else, the second half of the 2013 season will be very interesting.