Ravens: Baltimore’s number one villain is inconsistency
Through seven weeks the Ravens sit with a 4-3 record. They look to have the talent to be a championship contender, but also the looks of an 8-8 team once again. One word represents what this team has been. Inconsistent.
Consistency and the Ravens seem to have a very strong love-hate relationship. Whether it’s struggling to put points on the board by the offense, or lacking the ability to close out tight games by the defense, Baltimore, over the last three seasons has been searching for consistency. And it seems that they have still yet to find it this year, so far at least.
In their victories the offense and defense alike, were clicking on all cylinders. The team looked unstoppable at times and many thought they had the ability to make a deep playoff run and be one of the top teams in the AFC.
But that confidence has been slightly busted in their defeats. In the three losses this season, the team has looked lost and depleted. With the exception against Cincinnati, where the Ravens dug themselves into a 21-0 deficit, Baltimore had a plethora of chances to currently be sitting at 5-2. But miscues and faults at the hands of several has them looking up at the Bengals and Steelers in third place in the AFC North. The inconsistencies go deeper than just the overall team.
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The offense, who converted their first twelve possessions in the red zone for touchdowns, went on a seven quarter touchdown drought thereafter. An in-balance in their run-pass game with the latter being more impressive, has made them a one dimensional offense at some points and causes drives to stall.
The pass protection from the offensive line has also been impressive, having only allowed twelve sacks on quarterback Joe Flacco. But the run blocking by the line has been less than, allowing Ravens’ running backs to garner just under five-hundred yards on the ground throughout seven games. That ranks in the bottom half of the league. The line has easily been the weakest link on the offensive side and has drug down any attempt of balance offensively.
On the other side, the defense has looked unbeatable in a number of games this year. Having gone six straight games without allowing a second half touchdown, leading the league in sacks, yards allowed per game, and points allowed per game. However, they have also faltered when it matter the most. Against Cleveland they allowed Baker Mayfield to drive down the field in overtime and set up the, what would be, game winning field goal.
Two weeks later, after a shutout performance against the Titans, they allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to score seventeen unanswered points to complete a ten point fourth quarter comeback. The offense also had their troubles in that game, not having the ability to sustain a long drive to help take some pressure off of the defense, but the point still stands against the defense.
Closing out games has been Baltimore’s crutch in recent years. It has been 674 days since the Ravens have won a game by less than six points. Most of those losses can be credited to the defense, who has surrendered plenty of game winning drives to opposing offenses. The inconsistent play has led to the Ravens sitting at home in January, instead of on the field.
If Baltimore wants to play meaningful football into the new year, they will need to improve their consistency in every facet of their game.