By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens are currently in unfamiliar territory as Week 10 approaches. Baltimore is 3-5 midway through the season and appears to be fading away fast. With the Bengals coming to town, this game has all the characteristics of a must-win game for the Ravens. And because of this, the Ravens will need help from their best player. It’s time for Joe Flacco to step up.
This isn’t your ordinary blame game. Nobody is placing the blame on Flacco for the Ravens rocky start. Anyone with eyes can see there is plenty of blame to go around. Joe isn’t getting any help from any of his supporting cast. The offensive line has been a joke this year, which may be directly correlated to the change in scheme this season. Run game coordinator Juan Castillo has placed emphasis on zone blocking, something the Ravens have done in the past. But it just hasn’t come together for the unit yet. And without blocking, Joe can’t expect much from the running game. Even with a better offensive line, it’s hard to believe the Ravens wouldn’t struggle running the football with the way Rice has looked this season. He looks slow and tentative when he has the ball in his hand. There’s been little to no burst from the Pro Bowl running back.
Even with all these things stacked against Flacco, the reigning Super Bowl MVP has to step up – for his team’s sake. The great quarterbacks make players around them better. And make no mistake about it; Joe Flacco is a great quarterback. Everyone witnessed what Flacco accomplished last postseason. He lifted an average team (yes, the Ravens were average) and carried them to a championship. Of course he had help, but Baltimore won a championship because of number five. Now, staring at the potential demise of their playoff hopes, Flacco must lead the way. He’s been inconsistent all season. If Baltimore wants another shot at the playoffs, that needs to stop.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told reporters on Sunday. “We just haven’t been good enough. You got to be positive. You got to keep your head and your eyes forward. Stare it right in the face. We’ve made it tough for ourselves.”
The Ravens have indeed made it tough for themselves. But the AFC is weak enough that they can crawl out and give themselves something few teams get in this league – a fighting chance.
Joe didn’t play particularly well against Cleveland in the beginning, but he picked things up in the second half. It’s not as if the Ravens offensive line suddenly learned how to block. The running game didn’t get going either. Joe decided to take Baltimore on his back and try to get the victory. They fell short on Sunday. If Flacco fails to play to his capabilities this week, they’ll fall short once again. Only this time, the Ravens won’t be able to get back up.
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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. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.