Why are the 2015 Baltimore Ravens so bad?
Like two Ed Reeds, hindsight is 20/20.
At the beginning of the season, many experts were picking the Ravens to be contenders for the Lombardi Trophy.
Peter King thought so.
Adam Schefter thought so.
I... Well, I thought the Steelers were gonna win the division, but I didn't anticipate them being anywhere near this bad.
John Harbaugh is still the head coach, Joe Flacco is still under center, and "All-Pro" CJ Mosely at linebacker... They should've been better than this.
Let me preface this whole article by saying one thing...
It's not like the Ravens are getting blown out.
The most they've lost by this season is by six points.
Seriously, they've lost four games by an average of 4 points.
If they had avoided a turnover against the Broncos...
If they hadn't committed as many penalties against the Raiders...
If they paid a hitman to take out AJ Green before the game started...
If Gary Barnidge decided to skip the thigh-master that week...
They could be 5-0.
...Of course, by that same reasoning, the Steelers could've made one field goal, they could easily be 0-5.
However... That's not to say they're good.
On offense, they can't sustain drives or move the ball on the ground.
On defense, they can't stop the pass, and they're just middle of the pack against the run.
If you can't maintain long drives... or prevent long drives in this league, it's not going to go well for you.
So what's wrong?
What's not clicking?
Where did they go wrong?
Derrick Rose Syndrome.
What's Derrick Rose Syndrome?
Oh, just a little thing I made up.
You can also call it the "Sam Bradford Effect" or "Mickey Mantle Disorder".
So what is it?
DRS is a shocking inability to help the team when you can't play.
And I don't mean, "My name is JaMarcus Russell and I can't play because I'm awful", I mean, "My name is Dave Ausberry and I can't play because I'm hurt".
Don't know who that is?
That's because he was always hurt.
The sad fact of matter is that the 2015 Baltimore Ravens are not healthy.
They've lost many crucial contributors on offense and defense.
And I'm not even talking about players that are just banged up.
I'm talking about players that are out for the season.
True, the Ravens probably aren't missing the likes of Allen Reisner or Micajah Reynolds too much.
But Terrell Suggs?
They're very thin in the secondary, and losing their best pass rusher for the year certainly doesn't help.
But you know what, if they only lost those guys... They would probably be okay.
It's the injuries that are lingering now that are costing them greatly.
On defense, Chris Canty has a calf problem, while Elvis Dumervil and Lardarius Webb have lingering thigh problems. With the losses of Elam, Davis, and Suggs, the defensive depth of the Ravens is getting thinner than Paris Hilton!
Wow... What a dated reference, I'm so sorry.
But honestly, I think the real problem is on offense.
Name a position, and the Ravens are struggling to keep someone healthy.
Seriously, outside of Joe Flacco, can you name a healthy starter?
Marshal Yanda? Ankle problems.
Eugene Monroe? Still struggling with a bad concussion.
Steve Smith Sr? Dealing with back problems.
First round pick, Breshad Perriman? Has yet to see NFL action.
Justin Forsett? What good is a runningback with a beat-up offensive line and a bad ankle?
Even Crockett Gilmore... who shouldn't be starting over Maxx Williams anyway, is nursing a persistent calf injury.
With all of these injuries on the field, it's gotta be almost impossible for Baltimore to run their game plan well, let alone well enough to be good in a competitive AFC North .
Some people just have the worst luck.
As I hinted to before... The Ravens have just had bad luck.
Against the Broncos...
Look, it's really simple.
They kept the offense in check.
They were driving, headed towards a win.
Flacco just threw the game away.
If he doesn't throw that interception, the Ravens probably win, and we're not even having this discussion right now.
Against the Raiders...
Late in the game, after a Will Hill interception, Joe Flacco and Steve Smith attempted to connect in the endzone for a score that would've put the game away. Instead, they settled for three and the Raiders were able to march down the field and score. Will Hill had another interception late in the game, but it got called back because he had a meaningless hold just moments before the pick. Six instead of three here. A penalty off the board there... and the Ravens could've won.
Against the Bengals...
Many times in this young season, the Ravens secondary has been exploited.
This was nevermore true than against the currently undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.
It's hard to point to one play...
But that 80 yard touchdown by AJ Green?...
They had just taken their first lead of the game when he absolutely torched the defense, I mean, it was hard to watch.
That, and a long miss by Justin Tucker that set the Bengals up with good field position early in the game really made it tough for the Ravens to beat a good team.
Against the Browns...
So much went wrong.
Will Hill thought he broke up the touchdown that Gary Barnidge made the incredible catch with his legs, if he had been just a little more thorough, the Browns might not have tied the game up. If Justin Forsett hadn't gotten hurt late in the game, and the Ravens didn't have to settle for three on the goal line... That could've been a win.
Of course, as I always say, "Luck is for Losers", and while it helps to be good in this league... it's better to be lucky.
Don't Dive in the Kiddy Pool.
The biggest problem is that this team just doesn't have any depth.
Who is catching these passes?
With Steve Smith gone, who leads the team in receptions?
The runningback is second in receptions.
After him, the second leading receiver is Kamar Aiken with 15 catches for 243 yards a single TD.
Who the hell is Kamar Aiken? Am I right?
Hell, after Aiken, the leading receiver is the freaking fullback!
The Ravens just don't have any weapons!
Marcel Reece, the fullback in Oakland, who is criminally underused, would be third in receiving on this team. I mean... He's caught as many TDs as Baltimore's top three options combined.
How can anyone blame Joe Flacco for not putting up Tom Brady numbers when this team has the worst receiving corps in the NFL.
On a good day, your best receiver is 36 years old, only 5'9, and dealing with back pain!
You're not getting any help from special teams, you're turning the ball over more often than your taking it away, you can't sustain drives on the ground, so you're forced to move it through the air and you don't have anyone to throw to!
It's a nightmare!
If anything, I think it's a credit to Joe Flacco for keeping this team competitive.
Seriously, I don't know how he does it.
His offensive line is mediocre when healthy, he's not no options, his defense can't stop Josh McCown, and while the numbers look good on paper, the run game just isn't there.
This team just isn't talented on offense, and with injuries on defense, they can't hang with the better teams.
It's all about the money, money, money.
In my opinion, Ozzie Newsome is one of the better general managers in football.
If you disagree with me, you're probably a Ravens fan.
I think every NFL fan hates their GM.
Seriously, look at the miracles that Reggie McKenzie has worked in Oakland, and then twitter-search him, you'll find some obscenely rude... and misspelled things.
The Ravens are almost always in the playoff picture, and they haven't had a losing season (obviously not counting 2015 yet) since George "Dubya" Bush was in office.
They've always been competitive, and I think Ozzie deserves a lot of the credit.
The cap situation is a mess.
Obviously, Joe Flacco is making the most.
As he should, it's about supply and demand in this business, and good quarterbacks are in great demand with limited supply...
But after that...There's a lot of dead money.
Not counting the 20 million from other contracts that the Ravens can't use...
A lot of the money just isn't on the field.
Lardarius Webb, almost 10 million against the cap? Not playing.
Marshal Yanda, about 9 million against the cap? Banged up.
Eugene Monroe, about 8 million against the cap? Not playing.
Elvis Dumervil, about 8 million against the cap? Not playing.
Steve Smith, about 5 million against the cap? Not playing.
Jimmy Smith, about 5 million against the cap? Well... you wish he wasn't playing.
Yup. And that's not including players on injured reserve.
After that, we're talking about kickers, rookies, and back-up QBs, folks.
The salary cap in the NFL in 2015 is 143.28 million.
Right now, the Ravens have used up about 120,279,405 of their cap on active players, all while dragging about 22 million in dead money.
They've only got about 2,214,500 million to spend.
Even if they were able to trade for some helpful pieces, or a game-breaking player... they probably couldn't afford him.
They can't really go after the big fish in free agency because so much money is tied up in their own aquarium at home (or in the Inner Harbor, am I right?).
But look at it this way, how are you supposed to be good when approximately 68 million dollars worth of cap is basically worthless.
That's like... half the cap, folks.
And when your first round pick is hurt, and your second round pick is a back-up, how exactly are you supposed to get better? How are you supposed to compete?
To BE the man, you have to BEAT the man.
Ultimately, the biggest problem that the 2015 Baltimore Ravens has is that the AFC North is the best it has ever been.
*Takes a look at Michael Vick and Josh McCown*
Okay, maybe not ever.
But they are really good.
You look at the Bengals, and they might be the best team in the AFC not named New England.
Just last week, they overcame a massive deficit against the two-time, defending NFC Champions.
Dalton is having a career year, they're moving the ball well on the ground, and AJ Green is playing insanely well. The coaches don't get in their own way, and they just let the defense do what the defense does.
Honestly, this Bengals team is everything Baltimore was supposed to be.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh just hasn't had a fair chance yet.
They're absolutely loaded on offense, and playing competitively on defense.
I'm serious, when Big Ben gets back, here's what he's got on offense.
Le'Veon Bell, aka the best runningback in the league.
Antonio Brown... someone I'm personally not high on, but that is undoubtedly talented.
Markus Wheaton is a talented player that does nothing but make big plays.
Martavus Bryant has nothing but upside, and should contribute immediately when he is finally allowed to play again.
Heath Miller is just as reliable as he's ever been.
And for the love of God, I hate myself for saying this, but even Darrius Heyward-Bey is having a career renaissance.
And now that they've got a kicker who understands the concept of uprights, they're ready to win games when Big Ben comes back.
And then there's Cleveland.
Look, I can't explain Cleveland.
I don't think anyone can explain Cleveland.
Even LeBron is shrugging right now.
They laid an egg against the Jets in week one, but they've been competitive ever since.
The "Johnny" chants have lit a fire underneath Josh McCown... who is sixth in yards per game right now, and they're finding ways to move the ball.
They've got some good young pieces on offense, and while they need a little help on defense, this team is leaps and bounds better than they were last year.
In Summation, Raven Nation.
It's all your fault.
If you didn't steal the Raiders gimmick and call yourselves "Nation", your team wouldn't suck.
Stop calling yourselves a Nation, we beat you guys.
Fair and square.
Hashtag- Raider Nation.
*Sticks tongue out*
In all seriousness.
The Ravens aren't as bad as their record indicates.
This is a team that should probably end up hovering around 8-8 that's had some bad breaks.
I listed the ways they could be 5-0 right now, but in all honesty, they should probably be 0-5.
Don't think of 2015 as a sample of what the Ravens are going to be.
Think of 2015 as a year to reload.
Players will get cut, traded, or retire, Ozzie will find gems in next year's draft, and people will figure things out.
The Ravens won't be bad forever... just for a few more months.
Don't abandon ship, maybe just find a life-jacket.
Thanks for reading... and good luck.