As the old saying goes, “there’s good news and bad news … which do you want first?”
The bad news? OK.
It’s going to get worse.
If you think today’s 32-14 loss in San Diego was as bad as it’s gonna get, you’re kidding yourself. It’s GOING to get worse before the season ends.
That’s the bad news.
The good news?
There are only five games left in the season. It will be over before you know it.
Another Sunday … and another day of inconsistent quarterback play, a feeble effort from the offensive line and slap to the head of an aging, injury-riddled defense that’s getting embarrassed far more than it deserves.
And there’s more in store next week. And the week after that, too.
The Ravens are just not very good.
Slice it up any way you want. Blame it on the head coach. Blame it on the veteran QB they brought in who has watched the last two losses from the sidelines. Blame it on injuries. Blame it on rookies making rookie mistakes. Blame it on turnovers. Blame it on the referees. Blame it on the football gods.
Put all the blame in a cup, shake it up and then pour it into a big, tall glass.
What you’ll have is a giant serving of “Ravens Stink Soda”.
Hell, San Diego is barely even good themselves and they shredded the Ravens today. Home field advantage can’t mean that much, can it?
Another road game, another sub-par day for Kyle Boller. Of course, it’s tough to throw the ball when the other team is steaming down on top of you three out of every five snaps. Shawn Merriman was in our backfield so much he accidentally got on the Ravens team bus when the game ended. And, in typical Kyle fashion, he made three or four outstanding throws, sandwiched around a handful of poorly thrown balls that looked like something from a Peanuts cartoon. But, I still say he’s improved from the ’05 campaign. How much? Probably only “a little” if I had to actually give some kind of classification to his progress as McNair’s understudy. And when it’s all said and done, I don’t think he’s improved enough to the point that the team would feel safe if he were starting in ’08.
Oddly enough, Boller is the least of the team’s worries right now. At least with Kyle, you know what you’re getting for the most part. He’s going to be decent at home and not very good on the road. In a strange sort of way, there are far more questions about McNair than Boller. The team will most likely give McNair at least one or two more starts between now and season’s end just to see what he can do as they look ahead to ’08, where he will return for year three of a five-year deal. But, who starts next season? Who knows. Right now, as I said, that’s the least of their issues.
The team’s defense has finally cracked. True, teams still can’t run the ball on the Ravens, but that’s because they’re too busy throwing it on them. A once proud collection has finally been solved … and all the woofing and hollering and chest pumping in the world can no longer hide this fact: The Ravens defense is, for the first time in a long, long time, vulnerable. They have ZERO pass rush unless it’s via the blitz package and their secondary — particularly without McAlister — is prone to the big play in virtually every series. A.D’s loss has been magnified by the fact that both Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs have not been in the other team’s backfield nearly enough this season. Maybe it’s the scheme, maybe other teams have figured out how to stop them — whatever the case, Scott and Suggs aren’t the wrecking machines they were a year ago.
Come to think of it, except for Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata – no one from the ’07 Ravens is playing as well as they did for the ’06 Ravens. That’s a pretty telling stat — only THREE players are playing as well or better than they did a year ago. You can’t win like that.
And now, with the Patriots and Colts on the horizon, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. Both games are scheduled for national TV, although NBC could mercifully ask the league to move the Ravens-Colts game from Sunday night to afternoon, which, if nothing else, will keep the nation from seeing the inevitable 44-21 pounding at the hands of Peyton Manning & Co.
Next week against New England? Well, I’d rather not think about that right now. It’s not going to be pretty. Given the fact that New England relishes the chance to humiliate teams, they might go out of their way to send the Ravens a visit from “The Cleat of Reality”. It won’t be a pretty “site” next Monday at M&T Bank Stadium, if you know what I mean.
So, while these last five weeks provide more misery than happiness, the real issue is how are we, the fans, going to take it? I, for one, am fully expecting the worst at this point. I’m sort of thinking the Ravens might not win another game. I know, I know, they have Miami in three weeks. Well, the Dolphins can’t possibly lose them all, can they? That’s how I’m going into this final month of the season. I’m assuming the Ravens are going to lose out and finish 4-12. I don’t wish that on them, of course. But I don’t see much hope, in all honesty.
Go back to the third week of the season when the Ravens played the Cardinals. Check the archives here and read my blog from Sept. 24. The title: ”Something’s not right with our football team”. I knew it then. And I definitely know it now.