1. No need to panic…Yet- I know that was a really ugly game and a lot of fans are going to go crazy about that performance, but Harbaugh teams have always had a few stinkers throughout their season and find a way to bounce back. There were definitely some eye opening moments and problems arising with the Ravens, but its only been 4 games. There is still plenty of time in the season for this team to put it all together. Don’t forget that last years Super Bowl team stumbled into the playoffs and were able to win it all. Things change quickly in this league.
2. Slow start again- This is the third straight game where the Ravens were held scoreless in the first quarter. This is nothing new to the team, as they have often struggled to score points early on in games ever since Flacco took over as quarterback. In the past, with weapons like Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, the team was able to find a rhythm as the game went on and put up points. Now, without a lot of talent around Flacco and a weak offensive line, falling behind early on is hurting the team. If this team has aspirations of playing in January they are going to have to start scoring in the first quarter.
3. Where’s the run game?- 9 rushes, 24 yards. No, that wasn’t a stat from the first quarter of the game, or even an individual players statistics. That was the rushing statistics for the whole game. The Ravens didn’t even run the ball in the second half until midway through the fourth quarter. That is unacceptable and Jim Caldwell is going to have to re-evaluate his game plan going forward. Ray Rice is the best offensive weapon on this team and even though he was hurt, he should still be getting at least 20 touches a game. It is a bad sign when a team only runs the ball nine times, especially considering that this game was close. I know Joe Flacco wasn’t happy with that statistic because he was getting hit all day, and no quarterback wants to actually have to throw 50 times in a game.
4. Where’s the run defense?- The Bills ran for over 200 yards today. There used to be a time when the Ravens defense didn’t even allow a running back to get 100 yards individually. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson consistently had holes to run through and the defense looked confused. Chris Canty and Brandon Williams both returned to action today and even with the added depth the team struggled to slow down this rushing attack. It seemed like the defense had turned it around since the game in Denver, but this was an alarming performance by this unit. The Bills don’t even have that great of an offensive line and they have a rookie quarterback. It would seem that the game plan would be to completely shut down their two-headed monster, but players missed their assignments all day. If this defense can’t turn it around and stop the run, teams are going to take advantage of the play action and burn them. That is what happened on the Robert Woods 42 yard touchdown. This isn’t the best rushing attack the Ravens will face this season, so it will be something to keep a close eye on.
5. Offensive Line officially a concern- Last week I touched on how the offensive line has been struggling to open up holes for the running backs and that is what happened again this week. Granted, they only ran the ball 9 times, but averaging only 2.7 yards a carry is awful. I also wrote about how both tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher have been playing poorly. The way they played this week didn’t do anything to make me feel differently. Flacco was constantly pressured throughout the entire game. He didn’t play that well himself and made some bad decisions, but when you get sacked four times and hit 12 times, its hard to develop a strong presence in the pocket. Flacco was constantly rolling out of the pocket trying to extend plays because the pocket was collapsing early on in the play. I don’t know if it is time to shuffle players around and move Kelechi Osemele back to right tackle and move Oher to left tackle, but something should be done. I don’t think putting Oher at left tackle is ideal, but this current group isn’t getting the job done. Maybe they need a couple more games, but with the Dolphins, Packers, and Steelers on tap for the next three games this problem needs to be solved or they could be looking at a 2-5 record.