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Giants 27, Ravens 23: Five takeaways

By: Ryan B. Winner

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After once again leading for large portions of the game, the Ravens dramatically imploded, dropping yet another close game to the Giants 27-23. Despite having a new offensive coordinator that developed the run game, the Ravens were unable to get out of their own way, as they overthrew and collided their way out of their fourth victory. With just one more game left before their crucial week eight bye, the Ravens have some serious problems to address if they want to return to the win column regularly. Here are five takeaways from the game against the Giants.

1. The lack of experience on the offensive line is devastating

The starting offensive line for the Ravens on Sunday was a shell of the group that started on opening day. Three of the five opening day starters were out with injury, and only Center Jeremy Zuttah remained in his original position. Rookie tackle Alex Lewis, who was the opening day left guard, was unable to handle the Giants’ edge rushers, and guards Ryan Jensen and John Urschel had frequent communication problems that led to wide open lanes for pass rushers on the inside. Furthermore, with All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda out, there was no one to help quarterback Joe Flacco recognize blitzes, leading to a lot a success by Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo when sending wacky blitz packages. The offensive line is in shambles, and it is clear that Flacco feels very uncomfortable in the pocket on every play, to a point where he almost seems paranoid. This is not healthy for the passing game, and if the Ravens are going to improve on offense, they have to be able to create time for Flacco to be comfortable.

2. Joe Flacco has lost touch on his passes

On far too many plays, Flacco had wide open receivers to throw to, and would either throw an inaccurate pass or a flat out uncatchable one. He missed Mike Wallace by about five feet on the final drive, and he missed Dennis Pitta in the back of the end zone by a mile. He also struggled to control his screen passes and short timing routes, resulting in a lot of balls that were very difficult to catch. Flacco seemed to be hurried, even when he obviously was not, and he would often start panicking and make a bad throw. The Ravens will not be able to move the ball if Flacco cannot deliver catchable passes regularly, and no matter how good the run game is, the offense will not go to the next level.

3. The lack of pass rush is very concerning

On far too many plays on Sunday, Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning had ample time to find receivers, and it resulted in a 400 yard passing game for him. Edge rushers Za’Darius Smith, Matt Judon, and even Terrell Suggs were barely able to create any sort of pressure on Manning, and it allowed him time to pick apart the banged up Ravens’ secondary. Suggs came away from the game with the lone sack, but outside of that play, he was very unimpressive. Also, after posting three sacks in the first three games, defensive tackle Timmy Jerningan has been unable to bring down a quarterback since then, and he seems to have taken a bit of a step back. The Ravens have a lot of talent on the back end of the defense, but if they cannot hurry the quarterback, coverage will eventually break down somewhere. If defensive coordinator Dean Pees cannot generate pressure from four or five man blitzes, he needs to start drawing up some exotic packages in the hopes that he can at least force opposing quarterbacks to make some bad throws.

4. Injuries have once again become a major concern for the Ravens

Last season was one of the worst in the team’s history in terms of being banged up. The Ravens lost starter after starter to injury, and they became a shell of the opening day team, resulting in Coach John Harbaugh’s worst record since joining the team (5-11). So, when the first couple games resulted in very few injuries this season and the team started 3-0, everyone started to get excited. Since then, the Ravens have had their starting left tackle, right guard, right tackle, top wide receiver, top middle linebacker, star edge rusher, and top cornerback all go down with injuries, and there is no official timetable for any single one of them. This has started to get very ugly very quickly, and it seems to quickly be shaping up to be exactly like last season, where the Ravens had to start signing guys off the street. After next week’s game, the Ravens will have a much needed bye to rest and heal up, but after even more players came out of Sunday’s game with injuries, this has to be a huge concern going forward.

5. The coaching staff has a lot of explaining to do after the last couple weeks

Even after Harbaugh fired Marc Trestman, he still made some questionable coaching decisions. While the fourth and one from the goal line seemed like a pretty standard call that just went wrong, the abominable clock management late in the game and the incredible amount of penalties seem like pure lack of preparation. For some reason, either Flacco or Harbaugh refused to spike the football in the hurry up offense, leading to a wasted timeout late in the game after a five yard catch by Breshad Perriman, and then after a few penalties, they found themselves in an unmanageable situation. While not a lot of people have noticed it, the Ravens, under Harbaugh, have a history of poor clock management and refusal to spike the ball to stop the clock. In the last two weeks, both game-winning drive attempts came up short, and bad coaching and preparation seem to be the main problem at this point. With Trestman gone, there is no one else to blame outside of Harbaugh and Flacco, and if they are unable to fix these issues, they will continue to struggle late in games.

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Ryan Winner is a dedicated sports fan who grew up watching all types of sports. He is an avid Ravens, Orioles, and Heat fan, and follows those teams closely. His dream is to one day make it in sports journalism field. He will be covering Stevenson sports, as well as writing commentaries for SoMuchSports.com

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