The Ravens had control of the AFC in their fingertips and on Sunday night against the Chargers they proved that they aren’t as strong as everyone had previously thought. Going into the game Baltimore was being touted as one of the best teams in the league and one that was destined for a home playoff game. Monday morning they are a team that has played well at home and will likely be playing their postseason games on the road.
Poor coaching, a failure to adjust whatever game plan they set up and an abysmal night by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco killed the Ravens chances in San Diego. In front of a national audience, the Ravens lost their second worst game under John Harbaugh since falling by 28 to the Colts in 2008.
Here are my thoughts on the ugly 34-14 loss in San Diego.
- Who is Joe Flacco? - I don’t know who Baltimore’s quarterback is? Is he the guy that threads the needle to Ed Dickson between two defenders in the end zone or the guy that overthrows Ray Rice on a two yard dump off pass? Is he the guy that breaks a sack and rushes for 12 yards to convert on third down or the guy that under threw Lee Evans in the first quarter on a pass that would have been a touchdown on the team’s opening drive. I’m not sure which Joe Flacco is the real Joe Flacco, but I know that on the road he hasn’t been good.
- Suggs was a non-factor - For a guy that we’ve all been praising and hoping to see win the defensive player of the year award, Terrell Suggs fell flat against the Chargers. After a couple three sack performances, Suggs was limited to just two tackles. Former Raven Jared Gaither was pushing him around. Suggs most memorable moment was a personal foul head slap penalty that gave the Chargers three points.
- Poor coaching effort - I’ve never seen John Harbaugh shown less on TV than I did in this game and every shot of him on the sideline seemed to show him baffled and confused. Harbaugh had that same look that Eli Manning had against the Redskins this week. I don’t know what the Ravens game plan going into this game was, but they never adjusted. On offense, Joe Flacco continued to make mistakes and team never adjusted to them and on defense they never made up for the gaping holes that Jimmy Smith left open in the secondary. Matt Lund is the professor, but if I gave out a grade for Harbaugh and the coaching staff it would be an “F” and only because I can’t give out anything lower. At the end of the first half, the Ravens had a chance to use timeouts after the two minute warning to get the ball back and attempt to make a drive, they didn’t and Norv Turner looked like the games best coach for those 120 seconds.
- Can’t rely on Jimmy Smith - I’ve never seen a team pick on one of the Ravens corners like I saw Philip Rivers pick on Jimmy Smith last night. The back of Smith’s jersey was all I kept seeing. Malcom Floyd put him to work and finished the game just shy of 100 yards receiving. The Ravens had no answers.
- Bad road team - The Ravens controlled their fate and had a home playoff game in sight, now they must rely on the teams facing the Patriots and Steelers. In two west coast trips the Ravens have been outscored 17-0. Outside M&T Bank Stadium they look like a completely different team.
Say what you will about the success of John Harbaugh and the Ravens, but as it stands Brian Billick is still the most successful head coach in Baltimore football history. After last night I have to question this staff’s ability to adjust to their weaknesses and their ability to play outside Baltimore.