AFTER HOT START IT’S RAVENS DEFENSE THAT IS HURTING MORE
The Baltimore Ravens had one of the hottest starts to the 2017 NFL season.
Through the first two weeks, the Ravens’ defense created a league-high 10 takeaways, while shutting out AFC North divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-0, in the season opener.
But things have gone south quickly.
After a promising 2-0 start, the team has suffered two consecutive losses.
During the losing streak, the defense has allowed 70 points, which included a 44-7 blowout against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London in their Week Three matchup.
In those games, the Ravens only forced one turnover.
And that lone turnover came off of a coaches’ review after Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown lost control of a pass while going to the ground that popped up into the hands of safety Eric Weddle.
But their offense hasn’t been much better— just scoring 16 points combined over that period of time.
As of now, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said it is “pretty straightforward” why his team has been losing.
“Turnovers, getting turnovers are big, stopping the run, getting first downs, getting off the field on third down,” he said in a press conference on Monday.
A large part of the problem for the team is trying to overcome the injury bug with more and more injuries piling up week by week.
The purple and black have 15 players on IR, including five offensive linemen, which has led to an ingest of inexperienced players.
“There are young guys out there who are learning on the run, especially at right guard,” said coach Harbaugh.
Usually right guard and Pro-Bowler Marshal Yanda anchors the right side of the line, but he went down with a season ending injury in a preseason contest against the Cleveland Browns this year.
That line has allowed nine sacks, six interceptions, and a 68.3 passer rating for 10 year veteran Joe Flacco.
The Ravens are looking to get everything back on track in their Week Five matchup against the Oakland Raiders, which are coming off of two losses of their own.
In their last game, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr suffered fracture in his back that can sideline him for up to six weeks.
But some Ravens are skeptical he may not miss any time, as he is listed as questionable on the injury report.
“For some reason, I won’t believe it until I don’t see him out there,” Weddle told ESPN. “I know what a competitor he is and he’s a tough dude.”
However, if he is not ready to go in Oakland by a 4:05 p.m. kickoff, Baltimore has prepared to face off against backup EJ Manuel.
“He’s running the Oakland Raider offense, so we’ll prepare for their offense, probably try to have an understanding of what he does well,” said coach Harbaugh. “They are both mobile; Derek Carr can really move, too.”
The 27-year-old quarterback, who signed from the Buffalo Bills in the offseason, is 6-11 as a career starter.