This article is part of a segment on The Baltimore Feather, called, Ravens Retrospective Review. In this series, we take an in-depth look at how the Baltimore Ravens performed in their game a few days earlier. In this edition of Ravens Retrospective Review, we delve deep into Baltimore’s disappointing loss at home against the Chicago Bears.
Ravens Retrospective Review: Ravens vs Bears
It was a cold, November afternoon, the first time I attended a Baltimore Ravens game. It was week 10 of the NFL season, and the Ravens were facing off against their division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. I shuffled into my nosebleed seats and witnessed a great game. The game was rough, but it looked like the Ravens would win. With two seconds left, however, Andy Dalton threw a Hail Mary pass, which was tipped, and caught by A.J. Green, forcing overtime. Fortunately, a Justin Tucker field goal sealed a Ravens victory, and I got to go home happy. Since the happy ending of that matchup in 2013, I have attended one Baltimore Ravens home game every year. However, none of my other pilgrimages to M&T Bank Stadium have ended happily. In 2014, I was in attendance for Steve Smith Sr.’s first game as a Raven, again against the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite his heroic late-game stiff arm play, the Ravens fell to the Bengals 23-16. The next year, in 2015, I decided to make the trip to Baltimore for their matchup against the Browns. No way they lose to the Browns right? WRONG! For my 2016 trip, I decided to watch the Ravens go up against the Redskins. It was a fun game, BUT Breshad Perriman kind of killed my vibe that game, and the Ravens lost. So here we are now in 2017. With the Ravens on a three-game losing streak when I attend, I tried to be as strategic in choosing the game I would attend as possible. My original choice was the Pittsburgh Steelers matchup, but I just couldn’t swing it. (Thankfully). I decided that I would go to the Bears game, a safe win for Baltimore. Or so I thought… The Ravens went from upsetting the Raiders, in Oakland, to losing to one of the worst teams in the NFL 27-24, in just the course of one week. Although seemingly impossible, I ensure you it was not. Here’s how the Ravens failed to take advantage, of a seeming shoe-in win.
Ravens Offensive Performance
The Ravens offense was bad. In fact, it was really bad. Despite the Ravens scoring 24 points, the offense scored no touchdowns. In fact, the highlight of the Ravens offense, was a two-point conversion, off a special teams touchdown. This is, by far, one of the worst offensive performances I’ve ever seen the Ravens give. Everyone, who has anything to do with the offense, shares a bit of the blame, but there are a few who deserve more of it. The Ravens’ wide receivers were ineffective and unable to do basic receiver functions. The offensive line was a shell of what it was last week, and the play calling was beyond poor.
Ravens Wide Receivers
To be blunt, Baltimore’s wide receiver situation is bad. Aside from Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin, the Ravens don’t have threatening targets. Sure Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman, and Chris Matthews can make the occasional big play, but they aren’t dependable. With Maclin absent from Sunday’s matchup against the Bears, Chicago knew that if they could shut down Wallace, Flacco would have a hard time finding targets. This is exactly what happened. When I examined the game footage from this Sunday, I noticed that the receivers had a hard time escaping coverage. Flacco had to result to check-downs and running out of the pocket on many of these plays, simply because everyone was covered. When Flacco was able to find someone open, it then became a question of would they catch it. Twice, Flacco threw a perfect pass, only to have it picked off. The first interception came when Flacco put the ball right into Perriman’s hands. Perriman took a nasty hit, and bobbled the ball into the air, allowing for it to be intercepted, and returned for a substantial gain. Flacco’s second interception occurred on a pass to Chris Moore, who was running a deep curl route. Moore had caught the ball on the same route earlier but failed to do so this time. He also bobbled the ball into the air, and it was picked off by Adrian Amos who returned it for a touchdown. On a crucial third down late in the second quarter, Flacco delivered a dime to Michael Campanaro over the middle. The catch would have given the Ravens a first down, and more, if Campanaro had actually caught it. He dropped it. The Ravens also saw another receiver hiccup when Flacco took a shot for the end zone with just 14 seconds left in the first half. The ball was spot on for incoming receiver Chris Matthews. However, Matthews tripped and didn’t get to the ball in time. The play would have given the Ravens a much-needed touchdown, but they instead had to settle for 3 points. Also, a dishonorable mention to tight end Maxx Williams. I know he’s not a wide receiver, per se, but he is just as guilty as the rest for his fumble in Chicago territory. The offense was heavily set back by the very sloppy play by the receivers on Sunday.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 15, 2017
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 15, 2017
Ravens Offensive Line
How does an offensive line go from being impenetrable one week to being very leaky the next? It’s incomprehensible that the line could regress that much, but it did. The offensive line allowed three sacks on Joe Flacco, and countless pressures. Jermaine Eluemunor and Austin Howard were the sore thumbs sticking out when I watched the tape. On one sack, Eluemunor barley was able to touch the pass rusher, as he hit Flacco less than two seconds after he took the snap. Austin Howard in the first half got beat hard on a few plays, but his play stabilized in the second half. I also noticed Ronnie Stanley get beat a few times on the outside, letting Flacco get pressured very quickly. An offense cannot be productive if the offensive line cannot block for a quarterback, and give him time to pass. Guard Ryan Jensen and center James Hurst were probably the two best offensive linemen against the Bears, but they each had bad plays. In the run blocking department, the offensive line held their own for the most part. The running backs were able to typically find holes to rush through, and gain yards, although there were more than a few rushes for no gain.
Ravens Play Calling
Marty Mornhinweg needs to explain himself. Why on earth, with just 12 seconds left in the game, are ALL the wide receivers going in the middle of the field? I’m no rocket scientist, but with no timeouts remaining, it may have been better to try to get out of bounds after catching the football. Mornhinweg seems to like a run, run, pass sequence to start a set of downs. I’m all for running the football, but when your two runs put you in situations such as third and six, maybe it’s time to mix things up. This sequence just got so predictable, I’m sure John Fox and his coaching staff knew it was coming. I get that the Ravens’ receivers aren’t great, but you can’t keep calling the same script of plays over and over again. It was very annoying to see the Ravens repeat the same sequence when they were unable to score one touchdown on offense. Marty Mornhinweg also seems to like sending three or four receivers out on routes. That’s all fine and dandy, but when you’re going to send two receivers on streak/go routes deep, and the other one or two on check-downs, the play is going to fail more times than not. This happened multiple times throughout the game and going back to watch the tape has only made me more frustrated at the play calling. I’m not quite sure who to blame for receivers not getting open enough. The receivers have to take responsibility for their own play, but Mornhinweg is at least partly culpable. His play calling on Sunday was just bad, and nothing like what we saw last week against the Raiders.
Look, Joe Flacco did some dumb things. Let’s get that out of the way first. Yes, he crossed the line of scrimmage, negating a touchdown, and yes he missed a couple of easy passes. However, Flacco is not to blame for this loss. The offense suffered as a combined result of bad receiver play, subpar offensive line play, and less than mediocre play calling. The Ravens receivers (including tight ends) directly caused all three of the Ravens turnovers. The offensive line more closely resembled swiss cheese than a wall, and Marty Mornhinweg made too many dumb calls. It felt like every other play, Flacco had to either escape the pressure or just check the ball down. How can a quarterback play well if none of his receivers are open? How can a quarterback play well when his receivers drop perfect passes? How can a quarterback play well if he can’t even stay in the pocket for two seconds before being pressured? Flacco played poorly in the first four games of the season. However, he has played well the last two weeks. If his supporting cast was actually able to help him, the Ravens offense would be in a much different position right now.
Ravens Running Backs
I saved this offensive evaluation for last because I really don’t have anything to criticize the Ravens running backs on. The offense as a whole played poorly, but the running backs had the best performances on offense. Alex Collins carried the ball 15 times and gained 74 yards. I was very, very impressed by Alex Collins this game and not because he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. On a couple of runs, Collins quickly assessed the situation, changed his direction, and hit the jets for a big gain. Collins’ vision is spectacular, and his quick thinking gives him the ability to do heavy amounts of damage to any defense. Buck Allen had a nice day as well, also averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He totaled for 49 yards after carrying the ball 10 times. He also caught the ball three times, for 17 yards. The play of the running backs was the brightest spot, in one of the darkest performances by a Ravens offense I’ve ever seen.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 15, 2017
Ravens Defensive Performance
Unsurprisingly, the Ravens defense played well. The Bears aren’t exactly a model offense in the NFL. The Ravens pass rushers, and pass defenders played very well. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was rattled and brought down multiple times throughout the game. Trubisky was also held to very few pass attempts and completions. The only weak spot on the defense came with the performance of the Ravens rush defense. They were unable to stop both Bears running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen on the ground.
Ravens Pass Rushers
The Ravens pass rushers had a field day with the Bears rookie quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. On many of the limited plays that the rookie actually tried to throw, the Ravens pressured him. Trubisky was obviously uncomfortable, being chased down by Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, and company. The Ravens ended up sacking Trubisky four times. Matthew Judon recorded two of these four, while Lardarius Webb notched one, and Willie Henry and Terrell Suggs combined for another. Overall, the Ravens pass rush unit played very well, and Trubisky was put into situations that he was not adequately prepared for.
Ravens Rush Defense
The saga of the Brandon Williams-less Ravens rush defense continues. In the first two games of the season, the Ravens were excellent on stopping the opposing rushing attack. Nose tackle Brandon Williams played in those games. However, since then, he has been forced to sit out with an injury. The Ravens rush defense has subsequently suffered greatly. In this game, the Ravens let up 167 yards to the Bears running back, Jordan Howard. Granted, this was over the course of 35 carries, and a 53-yard rush came in overtime to boost his numbers. Eric Weddle had failed to wrap up Howard in that play, as Weddle was trying to rip the ball from his hands. I don’t really blame Weddle for this, as the Ravens offense had been dormant all game, and they needed a spark. Bears running back Tarik Cohen also rushed for 32 yards, over the course of 14 carries. The Ravens rush defense needs to find a way to stop the opposing rushers, they can’t just rely on Brandon Williams to stuff every run in its tracks.
Ravens Pass Defense
The Ravens pass defense was solid in Sunday’s game against the Bears. It’s hard to diagnose the unit’s performance, as the Mitchell Trubisky only threw the ball 16 times. However, of those 16 times, he only completed 8 passes, putting his completion rate at 50%. Coverage on the Bears receivers was solid throughout the game. The only real hiccup by the Ravens pass defense came on a trick play. Trubisky tossed the ball to running back Tarik Cohen, who then passed the ball to Bears tight end Zach Miller for a touchdown. The play obviously fooled the Ravens secondary, as Tony Jefferson had ran in pursuit of Cohen. He quickly realized his mistake, but it was too late. Miller was wide open, and the pass resulted in a touchdown for the Bears.
Ravens Special Teams
The Ravens’ special teams was the highlight of the entire game. Kicker Justin Tucker was nothing short of automatic. He converted all three of his field goal tries, his longest from 50 yards out. He also kicked one extra point, finishing 4/4 on all kicking attempts of the day. Punter Sam Koch also had a fantastic day. He punted the ball seven times, for 385 yards. He averaged 55 yards per punt, and put two punts down inside the 20 yard-line. Both Justin Tucker and Sam Koch are expected to play at an extremely high level every week. What was unexpected, however, was how the kick and punt return squads performed. In the third quarter, the Bears kicked the ball off to the Ravens, and Bobby Rainey took the ball. Rainey fell down after tripping over a teammate. Everyone thought he was down, but no whistle was blown by the officials. Rainey quickly realized the play was still live, and he took off, running for the end zone. He was able to juke out the defender and jump into the end zone for a touchdown. Then, late in the game, the Ravens needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the game. The defense held the Bears to a three and out, and the Bears punted the ball to the Ravens. Michael Campanaro caught the ball, and took it to the house, scoring the much-needed touchdown. The Ravens got their two points and went into overtime. The Ravens special teams unit was able to keep the Ravens in the ballgame, while the offense struggled to stay afloat.
Overall, this game was a major step backward for the Ravens. They seemed to have proved themselves just a week ago. Now, they are back to square one, in the hole that they were in after the loss to the Steelers in Week 4. The offense is terrible, and the team is carried by the defense and special teams. The coaching staff has many issues to address in the coming days, as the Ravens must find a way to get back on track. For the subpar offensive performance, especially in the passing game, I give the Ravens a D grade. The Ravens defense gets a B grade from me, as they were able to hold the Bears back for most of the game. The Ravens special teams unit gets an A+ from me, their performance was nothing short of spectacular. Overall, the Ravens get a team grade of C+ on this performance. The defense and special teams played very well, and if the offense had just missed a few mistakes, this game would have been won.