By Samuel Njoku
The defending Super Bowl Champions have had a rough go of it in 2013. The wins have been scarce and the losses have been heartbreaking. But through it all, the Ravens remain in the playoff hunt. But if Baltimore doesn’t improve offensively, none of it will matter.
Ravens Within Striking Distance
The Ravens find themselves within a game of a wild card spot as the second half of the season unfolds. They’re also just 1.5 games back in the AFC North. This means that they are still in the hunt for a playoff berth and perhaps even a home playoff game. That seemed all but impossible two weeks ago when Baltimore fell to the Cleveland Browns. But a division win can change a team’s season. It’s why these games are considered to be so important in the NFL. You have to win your division games if you want to make it to the playoffs. So far the Ravens are 2-2 with games left against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Wins against both teams will more than likely get Baltimore into the postseason.
Ravens Offense Stinks
But even with the optimism hanging about the organization, the truth is that this team is struggling mightily. Primarily, the offense appears to be the weak link of this football team.
It’s the same old story with the Ravens in 2013. They can’t block anyone. Defenders are not only running around the linemen, but through them in some instances. The effects of this poor play have rippled throughout the entire roster. Ray Rice is playing like he’s 50 years old. Joe Flacco’s highlight film consists of him running for his life and throwing the ball to the guys wearing the wrong jersey. Even the coaches seem to be out of it at times. Does John Harbaugh even know what a time-out is?
Is All Lost?
All is NOT lost. The Ravens can salvage what appears to be a wasted season. For starters, the Ravens defense has been playing great football the entire season. We’d talk more about how great they were if the team was doing better in the standings. But this defense ensures that they are never out of any football game.
More importantly, the Ravens have the ability to make an impact on offense. Perplexed? I don’t blame you. Baltimore has talent on offense – loads of it in fact. Eugene Monroe is a top 10 left tackle. Marshal Yanda was once considered to be the best guard in football. And Michael Oher is a perennial Pro Bowl right tackle. These men didn’t forget how to play. They’re just struggling to perform as a unit.
John Harbaugh realizes this and he’s certain that this unit can get it together before it’s too late. They’ve torn down the blueprint that Juan Castillo proposed for the linemen and went back to what’s worked for them in previous seasons. The change has been subtle, but crucial in the grand scheme of things. If the offensive line can get back into their groove, Baltimore can push for the postseason. But if they can’t get it together, it won’t matter if the Ravens sneak into the playoffs. They won’t make it past the first round. In a town that is accustomed to winning, that’s simply not good enough.
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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.