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Washington 16, Ravens 10: Five takeaways

By: Ryan B. Winner


The Ravens went into Sunday expecting to dominate their beltway rivals, but instead, they choked, falling to Washington 16-10. The playcalling was unacceptably bad, as they completely and inexplicably abandoned the run game for a weird, ineffective west coast style offense, passing their way right out of the game. This was obviously the final straw for Head Coach John Harbaugh. On Monday, he fired Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator for his baffling playcalling, replacing him with Marty Mornhinweg in an attempt to turn things around. Instead of being 5-0, the Ravens have now dropped to 3-2 after throwing away the last two games, and it would not be surprising to see even more shakeups coming soon. Here are five major takeaways from Sunday’s abominable performance.

1. The offensive coordinator change needed to happen

After 21 games of Marc Trestman as the offensive coordinator, it was clear that the Ravens’ offense was not going to reach its potential. They had a glimpse at what a good offensive coordinator looked like when they had Gary Kubiak calling the plays in 2014, but Trestman has taken the team in the wrong direction. Calling just five designed running plays in the final 35 minutes of the game is just another example of the extreme playcalling incompetency Trestman has shown in his time in Baltimore. He seemed to want to run some strange form of the West Coast offense, which is extremely incompatible with the players he currently has on the team. Joe Flacco should be playing in a power run type of offense, which is what Kubiak installed in 2014, and the Ravens need to combine a strong run game with play action downfield passing. Flacco is not a spread quarterback, and he struggles with the short timing passes. He is a cannon-armed guy that has multiple deep threats on the roster to throw to, and that potential has gone to waste. Harbaugh, when talking about the firing, said “I didn’t feel in my gut that going the way it was going, it was going to get better.” Harbaugh has shown a lot of loyalty to his coaches in the past, but he clearly believed it was time for a change, which seems justified after the abysmal start for the offense this season.

2. Abandoning the run game was devastating for the offense

On just 11 carries, Ravens’ starting running back Terrance West managed to run for 95 yards, including runs of 35 and 27 yards. He was extremely effective, hitting the holes quickly and making defenders miss. He has become a terrific north-south runner, and he is incredibly hard for just one person to bring down. However, starting with five minutes left in the second quarter, the Ravens called just five more designed running plays for the rest of the game. In the final 35 minutes of the game, the Ravens completely abandoned their run game in favor of a more west coast type passing attack, which failed miserably. This would be understandable if the team was down by three or four touchdowns, but the Ravens were actually leading for the majority of the game, so there was no good reason to stop running the ball. The Ravens threw themselves right out of the game.

3. Tavon Young should be the starter opposite of Jimmy Smith at corner

With Shareece Wright ailing from back spasms, the Ravens turned to backups Jerraud Powers and rookie Tavon Young to fill that outside void. Between the top three cornerbacks yesterday, Young was the obvious best performer. He was often in isolation on one side, while Jimmy Smith and Powers covered the other, and Young was strong in all sorts of coverage. He only allowed one big play to Washington tight end Jordan Reed, and he was constantly blanketing the receivers in both man and zone coverage. Furthermore, he has shown the ability to make tackles in the open field, something that the Ravens have struggled with in the past. If the Ravens want to take their secondary to the next level, inserting Young into the starting lineup could be the catalyst.

4. The state of the offensive line should be a huge concern going forward

With left tackle Ronnie Stanley out for his second straight game, the Ravens used rookie Alex Lewis in his placed and inserted John Urschel at left guard. However, the combination of those two guys was absolutely devastating to the communication by the line, as they constantly got mixed up and missed some easy blocks. Also, right before halftime, starting right tackle Rick Wagner went down as well, and the Ravens had to move Marshal Yanda to take his place, causing even more confusion after Ryan Jensen came in at guard. The Ravens have a very young group of guys on the line outside of Yanda and center Jeremy Zuttah, and if they do not get a lot of snaps together, communication errors will continue to be very common. It would be smart for the Ravens to look on the free agent market for a veteran, because they clearly do not have the depth to be able to withstand injuries to their regular guys.

5. The Ravens do not have a pass rush

After getting nine sacks in the first three weeks, the Ravens have gotten just one in the last two combined. The only player who seems to be able to get any sort of regular pressure is defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, but opposing offensive lines have started double-teaming him, and no one has been able to step up. Linebacker Terrell Suggs has four sacks so far this season, but the majority of them have been due to solid coverage in the defensive backfield. Linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who has been a key part of the pass rush the last few years, has clearly lost a step, and no one has been able to step up in his place. At this point, the Ravens could consider giving rookie Matt Judon more of a chance, as he was very explosive in the preseason, but they seem to want to continue using Za’Darius Smith and Albert McClellan as pass rushers, and neither of those guys have ever been effective in that role. If the Ravens want to continue to dominate on defense, they have to be able to generate pressure, something they have not been able to do in the two losses.

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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

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