The Ravens collapse against the Dolphins was an all-around coaching disaster

Ravens, John Harbaugh (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ravens, John Harbaugh (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Well, that sucked.

No fun preambles this time. The Baltimore Ravens’ coaching was horrible. Here’s where each facet went wrong.

Mike Macdonald

Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald was supposed to bring a schematic change to the Ravens’ defense. After a year of Wink Martindale stubbornly sticking to man coverage despite a litany of defensive back injuries, Macdonald was supposed to bring in the flexibility to be able to play zone when necessary.

The Dolphins should have presented the perfect opportunity to employ that scheme. Playing against a weak-armed quarterback with incredibly fast receivers, the Ravens should have sat back in zone and allowed short passes before collapsing on the receivers.

While that is obviously easier said than done, they certainly should not have been employing coverages that gave the Dolphins opportunities to get behind the defense.

Playing against a quarterback with an arm as weak as Tua Tagovailoa should mean that it would nearly be impossible to throw deep balls because no one should ever be allowed to get that far behind the defense.

Well, Macdonald dialed up a truly baffling blitz on third and ten from midfield up 14 points with just under eight minutes left, and sure enough, Tyreek Hill got far enough behind the defense that he was still able to wait under a ball and catch a ball that fluttered in the air for a long time for a touchdown.

And while that call was particularly egregious, it was not as if there was much variety. The Ravens played a lot of man down the stretch and gave up a lot of big plays.

Giving up 28 points in the fourth quarter to blow a 21-point lead is inexcusable. Doing it minimizing the effect on the opposing quarterback’s biggest weakness is unconscionable.

I’m willing to give Mike Macdonald time. This was just his second game, and he clearly had a “Welcome to the NFL” moment.

But he got absolutely dominated schematically by Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, and we better start soon seeing the changes that were promised with this new defense.

Greg Roman

The biggest question going into this game was how offensive coordinator Greg Roman would respond to the blitz. After getting embarrassed by 31 cover-zero blitzes against Miami last year, all eyes were on how the Ravens would react to those pressures.

And by and large, things started out pretty well — the Dolphins tried to blitz and failed, and Lamar Jackson was lighting them up.

But then came the short-yardage situations. Of all the more minute criticisms of Greg Roman, the bigger picture one is this: he has one way of coordinating offenses and is not able to adjust from year to year, stubbornly sticking to the way an offense used to exist rather than adjusting to personnel.

A growing trend since the latter half of last year has been Roman stubbornly sticking to the short-yardage playbook that the Ravens rode to fourth-down dominance in 2019, only they do not have that type of team anymore.

They are still missing J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Ronnie Stanley, and simply have not been able to run the ball. In the first half, the Ravens had a truly dominant drive that advanced deep into Miami territory.

After 14 plays, the Ravens had first and goal at the two-yard line. Roman preceded to try to run it in four straight times, failing each time and turning the ball over.

It culminated in a fumbled snap by Lamar Jackson on an attempted quarterback sneak, a truly curious call considering sneaks have always been a weakness of Jackson’s.

Instead of realizing the type of team he had and adjusting, Roman stubbornly stuck to the same play sheet. Up 14 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens used two passes to gain 32 yards and were facing second and four at Miami’s 43-yard line.

Roman once again tried to put the ball on the ground and the Ravens once again got stopped on fourth down, attempting a power run with Jackson to the left, an old short-yardage staple for this team, but one that had already failed earlier when run to the right and had little chance of working considering the way the Dolphins were filling the gaps.

After the Dolphins tied the game, the Ravens again used the passing game to advance to Miami’s 34.

Instead of trying to push the ball to score, Roman tried to play a ball-control style of football that this team is incapable of playing, calling a run up the middle on first down that lost a yard.

His poor responses to blitzes then reared their ugly head, as a second-down hot-read that gained just two yards was followed by a third-down incompletion and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal.

As horrific as the defense was, the Ravens should still have put this game away, something they would have done in 2019.

But that goes back to the fundamental problem that this offense continually faces. When forced to play up-tempo and air it out, this offense succeeds. When Roman decides to act like it is still 2019, it fails.

John Harbaugh

Beyond the typical criticism of head coach John Harbaugh continuously allowing Greg Roman to run this offense, today was a disaster in situation coaching for Harbaugh, a rarity for someone who is typically good at managing a game.

The biggest problem came with time management.

When the Ravens were up in the fourth quarter there were multiple plays where they snapped the ball with upwards of 15 seconds left on the play clock, a cardinal sin when an offense is trying to run the clock out.

They did the same thing when they were in field goal range in the fourth quarter, giving the Dolphins even more time once they got the ball back. Considering the Dolphins scored the game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds left, those seconds mattered.

What’s more, Harbaugh inexplicably let the Dolphins run the clock down. Chase Edmonds had a big run to get inside the Raven 10-yard line with 39 seconds left, at which point the Ravens should have called a time-out.

At that point, there is no two-minute drill for the Dolphins as they have all the time in the world and two timeouts for just seven yards.

And there were fewer than 40 seconds remaining, so the Dolphins could not have stopped the clock to get the ball back if the Ravens miraculously forced a turnover, as they only had two timeouts left.

Mike McDaniel recognized the value those seconds had to the Ravens, as he let the clock run to 24 seconds before calling a timeout.

While they still would have been unlikely to score a touchdown, an extra 15 seconds would certainly have helped the Ravens on a final drive, especially considering the pace with which they were moving the ball.

Instead, the Ravens were forced to play for a Hail Mary which predictably failed to yield a miraculous game-winning touchdown.

In a game where the Ravens had control, these mistakes add up. Yes, the Dolphins played incredibly down the stretch to come back, but even with the way their offense was playing the Ravens should still have put the game away.

Next. Analyzing the options the Ravens have to replace Kyle Fuller. dark

The all-around coaching failure led to one of the most disastrous collapses in Ravens history. It is now up to those same coaches to ensure that this does not define this season.