Three days later, I have to admit to you that I still don’t have the answer. And it isn’t for a lack of trying.
You didn’t ask, but I spent my weekend away from the area. My wife and I celebrate our anniversary on May 10 every year. That date tends to conflict with some work responsibilities. So we traditionally have looked for a weekend in the fall when the Ravens are off and we try to get away. This year we slipped down to Williamsburg, Va., for a few days. It was lovely. I strongly recommend the potato and chickpea curry at The Hound’s Tale. I am told I am not supposed to dedicate my entire column to the dish. Pity.
As we drove home on Sunday, my wife politely offered to drive so that I could watch football games on my iPad. She’s a mensch. As the Washington Football Folks were finishing off the Buccaneers, she asked, “Was that supposed to happen? I thought Tampa was good and Washington was bad.” I confirmed her suspicion and acknowledged my own surprise at the result, to which she followed with, “Yeah and what happened to the Ravens the other night?”
On Friday’s episode of Glenn Clark Radio, I attempted to drill down whether the disastrous effort in Miami said more about the “weird” nature of “Thursday Night Football,” particularly playing on the road just four days removed from an emotional, comeback win that went deep into overtime plus this being the NFL and unpredictable results can occur at any time OR the issues facing the Ravens due to significant injury concerns finally catching up to them.
The easy answer is, “Well, it’s somewhere between those two things.” But of course it is! That’s the reason the question exists, Doctor! The question is about which side more truth can be found.
We’ll start with the former thought. Road teams are 38-55 on Thursdays since 2016. The Ravens were already banged up before playing an incredible 98 (!) offensive snaps against Minnesota. They didn’t have a real “practice” during a short week before having to travel. And unexpected results truly are commonplace in the NFL, as sub-.500 teams have recorded eight wins against first-place teams in just the last two weeks alone!
There is enough “weird” in there to reasonably say, “OK, yeah, that’s what this is. It was just really weird.” As weird as realizing you’ve reached the age where despite being out on a Friday in a different town without your kids, you just went back to your room after dinner because, honestly, the music at the establishment you were going to visit was just too damn loud.
But there’s also folly in accepting this as the singular answer. Scientifically speaking, if the answer is just the “weird” nature of the circumstances, it suggests that if you separate the Ravens from the weirdest of the circumstances (Thursday night road game four days removed from playing 100 offensive plays), they’d be just fine. And the relevance of the question is based in trying to determine what the Ravens might do moving forward.
And that … that forces me back to the latter.
I couldn’t possibly know if the Ravens’ noteworthy flaws will prove to be fatal. It is my solemn promise that if at any point I end up being capable of predicting the future, I will use my powers for good. Just as long as you think “a reverse re-creation of Back To The Future II” fits the bill of “good.” I don’t know. There is so much football to be played. But the flaws are quite real.
Not only were the Ravens not saved by the NFL’s trade deadline, their running back issues are now even more pressing. Latavius Murray continues to have their top per game output (35.3 yards) despite not being on the field for the last three games. The theory that Devonta Freeman’s production could improve with more carries looked pretty good after the Vikings game (when he averaged 6 yards per rush) but did not prove to again be true when the workload was greater in the early portion of the Dolphins game (against a less exhausted defense). He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. Patrick Mekari’s absence further stretches an already thin offensive line.
We would describe the offense’s slow starts as an “epidemic” if we weren’t living in a world where we had actually experienced a freaking epidemic thus making us retire the use of the phrase when describing far less important phenomena. You get the point. Lamar Jackson described their trend of early offensive woes as “ridiculous” and when asked for comment, the entire fan base said “we concur.”
The Ravens are leaving themselves in a position where either Lamar Jackson has to play brilliantly every game out or they are going to be hard pressed to find a way to win.
The good news is that Lamar Jackson plays brilliantly quite often. Despite the Ravens’ flaws, there is good reason to believe that their quarterback will find a way to bail them out a few more times moving forward. That’s what great quarterbacks do. And there’s still time for the coaching staff to try to figure out ways to overcome their flaws.
The sky is not falling.
But that doesn’t mean what happened in Miami should be completely dismissed altogether, either.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox