Well, the Ravens 2013 season is over.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
There will be plenty of time over the next few weeks to process and digest the fact that for the first time since John Harbaugh took over that Baltimore will not be appearing in the post-season. This should allow all Ravens fans to look back at the marvelous five-year run this franchise had with three appearances in the AFC Championship game culminating with a Lombardi Trophy. No doubt they’ll need to retool and regroup for 2014.
For now I’ll try to stick with reactions about today’s game and if I wander please forgive me.
- The Ravens offense has been not just bad this season, but historically bad. We’ll have time to sift through the numbers to see just how awful soon enough but the inability to put the ball in the end zone has been just one of many reasons that this team will miss the playoffs. You just can’t settle for Field Goals in this league and the Ravens scored only two touchdowns in their final three games. It’s clear there will need to be both personnel and scheme changes moving forward.
- The Ravens defense showed promise at times this season and that was evident today. They turned the Bengals over four times today and that was without registering a single sack of quarterback hit all afternoon. However they have been often unable to hold whatever meager momentum the offense has been able to establish. The game was inexplicably tied at 17 with five minutes left in the Third Quarter. Instead of getting a three and out the defense was susceptible to the Bengals screen game that ended with a touchdown and a lead that Cincinnati would never relinquish.
- Joe Flacco. I give him credit for fighting through injury but his decision making was once again questionable and turnovers were too abundant. He was picked three times against one touchdown this afternoon as he finished with a miserable rating of 49.8. He simply didn’t play well enough and he had too few good games this season for a player that you expect to lead your offense. But if you believe that it’s all because of him or his huge contract then you’re missing the point entirely. He’s a very good quarterback in this league and he can win in this league. He’s proven that. He needs help though. A running game would be a start so play-action would actually be a threat, as well as an Offensive Line that blocks on a regular basis. But when you break Vinny Testaverde’s single season interception record it has to give any fan pause.
- Ray Rice. Another player who was plagued by injury most of the season and wasn’t the same player as a result. Six carries today f0r Fifteen yards. His problems this season have also been self inflicted as he hasn’t shown patience to find the right hole nor the burst to get there. It was great to see his will on a two-point conversion attempt in the Third. It shows that he still has fight left in him but he’ll be another player that requires re-evaluation this off-season.
- Matt Elam has played out of position all season at the Free spot. He doesn’t have the cover skills or ability and he showed that during A.J. Green’s blow-by at the end of the First Quarter. He is a more natural Strong Safety and supported the run nicely for yet another game. I can’t wait to watch him in that position in 2014 since I don’t expect Ihedigbo to stay in Baltimore.
- One might have figured that if the Ravens could turn Andy Dalton over they might have a shot to put a lone blemish on the Cincinnati home record. Instead Red Zone inefficiency reared its ugly head as they were 1 for 3 (1-9 in the last 3 games). Execution and poor play selection were the culprits yet again and it’s been another defining trait of this season’s edition of the team.
- After watching today’s game you wonder how Terrell Suggs made the Pro Bowl. He misdiagnosed several plays and could only muster an assisted tackle all afternoon. The lack of pass rush with he and Elvis Dumervil both fading over the last six games has hurt this defense immensely. I’d expect the Ravens to ask for a re-structure for next season from the new leader of the defense.
- The Offensive Line finished off a dreadful season with a fairly subpar performance. Only surrendering two sacks on the stats sheet didn’t show the beating that Flacco took behind the line getting hit numerous times as they failed to execute their blitz pick-ups. Michael Oher probably played his last game in purple and if you don’t agree just watch how Carlos Dunlap beat him repeatedly.
- Jim Caldwell’s game plan seemed the same as always relying on five-step drops and deep shots on the early downs while calling run plays in a predictable fashion. Of course it didn’t take long to abandon the run altogether. No crossing routes. No quick passes. No Hot routes. Nothing to help counter act the Bengals over aggressive defense. Fans are calling for his head but I doubt we see that. If not they at least need to get everyone on the same page. They have all off-season.
- Torrey Smith once again had trouble connecting with Flacco on long throws. He had a very good season statistically but today he hauled in three passes in seven targets for a measly twenty seven yards. Jacoby was also a non-factor as the Ravens couldn’t get him going either. Baltimore needs to find more playmakers on both sides of the ball but it’s clear to me that offense needs to be the priority moving forward.