Ravens just as mediocre as everyone else

Offensive line continues to hold the team down

October 25, 2011|Mike Preston

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — — Even after Monday night's dismal performance, the Ravens are still one of the better teams in the AFC.

But it's by default.

The NFL has become a league of one great team, Green Bay, and the rest are either average or downright terrible.

The Ravens are better than most because of their defense, but after that they are just as mediocre or as bad as everyone else. We've all been waiting for the offensive line to get better, and it hasn't after six games.

Left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie is still slow. Right tackle Michael Oher stills gets penalized often and left guard Andre Gurode can't stay on his feet. The Jaguars got constant pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco basically with four and five rushers.

And Flacco?

Mr. Inconsistent. He's that way from quarter to quarter. It's to the point where there are no more excuses for him or offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. They need to get better in a hurry. The sand in the hour glass is starting to run low.

When the Ravens have had lackluster performances before, it was because they were coming off the big win against Pittsburgh, or playing a quality team like the New York Jets.

What happened Monday night?

They played a poor team like Jacksonville which entered Monday night's game with one win. The Jaguars head coach, Jack Del Rio, already has his bags packed because he is about to be fired, and the cab is waiting outside his door.

And the only reason the Ravens were in the game was because Jacksonville was so sorry that they couldn't take it away earlier in the game. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew kept fumbling. The Jaguars couldn't convert on third downs either, and had only four first downs in the first half.

But that seems to be the norm in a league where Cleveland beat Seattle 6-3 Sunday. The Ravens get a favorable schedule for the remainder of the year with Arizona, Cleveland, Seattle and Indianapolis on the schedule.

But if they are going to become serious contenders, they have to show improvement and smash teams like Jacksonville. Good teams separate themselves from the bad ones, and there are plenty of bad teams in the NFL.

If the Ravens don't do it now, when will they?

No conversions

The Ravens were 0 for 6 on third-down conversions in the first two quarters, and didn't get a first down until there was 5:10 left in the third quarter.

Duffner next?

There is strong speculation that if Del Rio gets fired before the end of the season, former University of Maryland head coach Mark Duffner will serve as interim head coach for the Jaguars.

Duffner has been the Jaguars linebackers coach for six years, and he might be able to breathe some enthusiasm into the franchise. While at Maryland from 1992 through 1995, Duffner was known for his positive, rah-rah style which in contrary to Del Rio's moodiness.

Pathetic series

The Ravens were pathetic offensively in the first half. Nothing epitomized their woeful efforts more than a possession early in the second quarter.

The Ravens took over at the Jacksonville 45, and after five plays, ended up with a fourth-and-43 at their own 22. In between, Oher had two holding penalties and Flacco had one pass batted back in his face which he caught.

It was embarrassing.

Gutsy call

Del Rio showed a lot of guts by going for it on a fourth-and-2 at the Ravens' 15 with 6:08 left in the first quarter. The Jaguars lined up in a Wildcat offense with the direct snap going to Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew ran up the middle for 12 yards and a first down. The formation caught the Ravens offguard.

The gambler

After 10 years in the NFL, Ravens safety Ed Reed still hasn't learned how when and when not to gamble on punt returns. It won't ever be corrected because Reed is extremely impulsive, and can't help himself.

The Ravens know it, and they deal with it the best they can.

Over and over

When most home teams get a call their way because it's obvious the referees have made a mistake, they don't repeatedly show it on the Jumbotrons.

Jones-Drew clearly fumbled at the Ravens one with 6:08 left in the first quarter, but the officials ruled he was down by contact. Jacksonville officials showed the replay about eight times, and everyone saw that the officials blew the call, and it was eventually overturned.

Whatever happened to home cooking?

Smith plays

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, the team's top cornerback out of the University of Colorado, played for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain on the opening kickoff team of the season opener.

Smith played well on special teams especially holding up Jacksonville's gunners on the punt/punt return teams.

Blown call

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard's hit on running back Deji Karim in the third quarter was picture perfect. Karim, though, was defenseless because his quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, led him right into Pollard.

It was a poor night of officiating, and this was just another blown call.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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