The Ravens weren’t just beaten on Sunday, They were hammered. Mercilessly. You can watch the game and list off a thousand reasons for the defeat, but really isn’t that hard to pinpoint the main reason. Football is an incredibly complex game. Schemes have reached a point that on any given play, even if you knew exactly what the playcall was for your opponent, you still wouldn’t know exactly what they were seeing. Modern football is a game of option routes, kill plays and quick reads. Football is a very complex game, but it all still boils down to the same thing it boiled down to over 100 years ago. You have to win one on one matchups.
Defensive lineman should be handling one on ones with offensive lineman consistently, your offensive lineman need to work together to avoid one on ones where they don’t have a distinct advantage. Ray Rice has to make linebackers miss in the open field. Wide receivers have to be press man coverage on man blitzes. As a defense, you have to make sure receivers don’t beat you in press man coverage on man blitzes. You can not miss tackles on running backs in the open field. Only one team was able to win in those one on ones and that team was not the Ravens Sunday.
Of all the reasons you can list for why the Ravens lost Sunday, the only one that matters is that only 2 players consistently won their one on one matchups Sunday. The first was Terrell Suggs.
Suggs was forced to play a bigger role than he might have been ready for but he was by far the Ravens best player Sunday. We all know Suggs is a physical freak and one of the best players in the league, but there is no good reason why he should have been the Ravens best player Sunday when he was just a few months removed from a devastating injury. There is no Excuse for that. The only other guy to win consistently was, believe it or not, Jacoby Jones. Jones was the Ravens best receiver Sunday because he repeatedly showed an ability to beat man coverage.
Jones didn’t put up much in the way of numbers, but that was largely due to the fact that Joe Flacco was unable to find him because of the relentless pressure from the Houston front seven. Jones was open for most of the day and could be seen repeatedly running deep downfield by himself with a defender trailing by 3-7 yards. Part of this was a calculated risk by the Texans to pair up in loose coverage with Jones and bet big on their pressure getting to the QB. For the most part it worked, but had the Ravens OL been able to protect, Flacco and Jones could have made that plan blow up in the Texans face.
There is a very good chance that the Ravens and the Texans meet up in the playoffs. If the Ravens hope to win that contest, they must win more one on ones, specifically in the offensive line. I am not going to harp on individual players much. Trust me, they know they played horribly; they don’t need me to tell them, I’m sure they feel crappy right now already. But moving forward, the Ravens have a lot of work to do. Luckily their bye came at a perfect time (or maybe a week late). The Ravens have 2 weeks to get their ducks in a row before they face a down but not out Cleveland team that would love to play spoiler for a division team. The Ravens still have a solid divisional lead, but they cant afford a losing streak right now.