Ravens aren’t facing an uphill battle…they’re just facing a battle – like everyone else in the NFL

October 15, 2012 | Drew Forrester

That’s PRECISELY the way the Ravens should be thinking at this point.  As we’ve seen the last few years when teams have finagled their way into the post-season in the final couple of weeks and then hoisted the Lombardi Trophy a month later (see the Packers in ’10 and the Giants last season), all you have to do is get in.  Just get in…

Lots of people are bemoaning the fact that the Ravens have suddenly become a poor tackling team out of nowhere.  They’re also wondering how guys like Chykie Brown and Corey Graham will step in and step up for the departed Lardarius Webb and the injured Jimmy Smith.

Those are fair questions, because the CBA doesn’t lend itself well to in-season development.

The new agreement between the players and owners allows for ONLY 14 days of “padded practice” between the day the regular season starts and the day it ends.

Do you need to read that again?  Basically, the Ravens are allowed 14 days of “live contact” between September and the end of December.

How the hell is anyone supposed to improve their technique if they can’t actually “practice”?

So that’s the dilemma facing the Ravens right now, particularly with newcomers or practice squad guys that they might use in place of injured players.  It’s one thing for veteran players to not practice in pads during the season.  The weekly rigors of the league sort of mandate they take it easy by this time in the season.

But for newcomers or guys who need to learn on the fly, real, live football action is important.  Not being able to put pads on execpt for one day a week isn’t a help in this area.

You can run around in shorts and a t-shirt three days a week and you can play football one day a week and somehow, you’re supposed to improve your team like that?  I don’t think you can.

The good news, of course, is that every other team in the league is faced with the same restrictions.  If the Ravens are allowed just 14 “live” practices, so are the Steelers, Patriots, Texans and Bengals.

It still stinks, though, particularly when you’re hit with injuries to key players and you’re desperate for some practice action to teach your players new or improved techniques.

My guess is this:  The Ravens defense will improve a little bit, just because it can’t really get much worse, but the lack of legitimate practice time will make it difficult for the Browns and the Grahams of the world to make any kind of eye-opening improvement between now and the end of the season.  What you see – now – is most likely what you’re going to get.

But the Ravens can win with this defense.

How far can they go?

Who knows…

Everyone thought the Patriots were going to be great and they’re 3-3 with losses to teams like Arizona and Seattle.

The Steelers just lost to the Titans.  And they also lost to the Raiders.

The Bengals have losses to the Dolphins and the – gasp! – Browns.

No one is really all that good in the AFC, even the Ravens and Texans, both of whom are 5-1.  Did you see Houston get run out of the gym last night by the Packers?

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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Unitastoberry Says:

    There is no more d in the NFL. If you don’t practice tackling you can’t expect to do it good on Sundays.

  2. dave hittinger Says:

    Spot on Drew, the season is a marathon and virtually every team struggles with devastating injuries. Truth be told it was time to replace Ray anyway, they just may get better with someone else taking his place.

  3. tsnamm Says:

    Great summary Drew, I especially agree with the last point about the big free agent losses…while those guys weren’t the stars, they were the brick and mortar that helped keep the D a strong as it has been. Plus throw in Pagano leaving and Sizzle’s injury, and now these 2 from Sunday, and there are a lot of question marks as you pointed out. However like you also pointed out, if things could really come together at the end of the season, the Ravens could get on a hot streak ala the Packers and Giants that could carry them to the Super Bowl. There’s time and plenty of room for improvement, lets see if they take advantage of it.

  4. P-dubs Says:

    Tsnamm giants and packers had a dominant pass rush we dont

  5. Marcus Halberstram Says:

    This may be short sighted but the defense has been horrible and really couldn’t be much worse. This is a “circle the wagons” moment for this defense and time for Suggs to take the torch from Ray and proclaim this HIS defense.

  6. Phil Says:

    I hope this isn’t the end for Ray, he deserves a better ending and I would like to see him back next year.

  7. Robert Says:

    Before the season started, I wagered the 2012 Ravens would miss the playoffs. I did so not out of any prescience but figuring the odds were long to make the playoffs 5 years straight especially considering the loss of Pagano, Johnson, Redding et al. The injuries on Sunday make me wish I’d doubled-down seven weeks ago. Cheers.

  8. Ralph Says:

    You make some good points, Drew. I had to switch over to the fan for a few minutes the other day after listening to you all the time. A friend of mine said they heard Steve Davis speak with sincerity and came across as genuine for 12-15 seconds. Weird.

  9. The Armchair QB Says:

    The one area that the Ravens “D” does seem to excell at is, “takeaways”! But, that’s about it! Kruger and Cody appear to be “busts” and, if Kindle can’t help this team NOW, time to cut him and make room for someone who can! Both the “O” and “D” need to start playing with reckless abandon if they hope to get to the playoffs, particularly the woefully inept defense. Time to start sending the “house” after opposing QBs ’cause the secondary can’t cover anybody! At least if the passer is hurried, he might miss a few open receivers! But, your obsevations are right about teams in general. Winning with defense is DOA and teams who expect to get to the playoffs had better put up points or…else! The Cowboys demonstrated Sunday how a big play or two ruins a ball control offense…….

  10. tsnamm Says:

    P-dubs…absolutely true, more so the Giants than the Pack… if Sizzle gets back that may help Ngata, so we don’t have to blitz all the time to try and bring pressure… we see what needs they have to fill this next off-season if this team can’t step up. There should be some pretty good pass rush guys available in free agency this off season( Umenyora,Freeney). I’ll be interested to see if the Ravens have any cap space, and if they’re willing to spend some on the defensive side of the ball.

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