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Disaster Strikes Baltimore: Ravens Lose Home Opener

The Baltimore Ravens let a three-touchdown lead slip at home against the Miami Dolphins. After a hot start on offense, the defense folded and allowed four straight touchdown drives to end the game.

What a mess. What an absolute travesty of a football game in Baltimore, yesterday. Lamar Jackson put on an absolute masterpiece. He was damn near perfect. You can not ask for much more from your franchise quarterback. It’s a shame the running backs and the defense gave zero assistance.

On a day where the Ravens’ passing offense was clicking on all cylinders, the run game failed the team. What has once been considered the strength of the team is now a glaring weakness? Baltimore’s run game used to strike fear in opposing defenses. Present day, the running game isn’t respected, and teams have continued to make Lamar Jackson the focal point of their game plan. The current starting offensive line has been lackluster in run blocking thus far.

In all fairness, the Ravens’ pass blocking has been above average. The Ravens did not allow a sack yesterday. When it came to the run game, outside of right guard Kevin Zeitler and center Tyler Linderbaum, the run blocking was atrocious. Left guard Ben Powers was constantly pushed back. Patrick Mekari fared well in pass protection but offered little in run blocking. Morgan Moses was similar to Mekari. He garnered no push in the run game but kept Lamar upright.

It would be a facetious line of thinking to expect JK Dobbins to drastically alter the running game when he returns. Truthfully, it would be ill-advised to put a returning JK Dobbins behind this line. There is zero push up front. Kenyan Drake has the agility and quickness to get loose in space but has no holes to run through. Veteran Mike Davis is approaching the territory of not being worth the roster spot. Justice Hill showed burst but was an afterthought once the offense had to play catch-up.

The Defense: A Tale Of Two Halves

When the game hit halftime, the Baltimore Ravens were firmly in the lead. The offense was moving the ball at will. The defensive line, led by outside linebacker Justin Houston, was making Miami signal caller Tua Tagovailoa uncomfortable early on. Houston had Tua running for the hills in the first half. When the Dolphins made adjustments at the half, Houston was double teamed and shut down.

The Ravens’ defense failed to capitalize on the focus Houston received. Odafe Oweh was radio silent all day. In the first half, Oweh received double-team blocks and was chipped by their backfield as well. Once Oweh started facing single-man blocking, he still mustered zero pressures or sacks. Miami’s adjustments caused the secondary to have less time to cover Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. When the pass rush disappeared, Tua thrived. It didn’t help that the Ravens went to the prevent defense while still in the lead. We blitzed early while being up three scores and resorted to rushing three or four men towards the end of the game.

The linebacking corps had a bad showing, as well. Inside linebacker Patrick Queen seems to have his game together one game and takes three steps back the following game. The mounting missed tackles and blown coverage assignments were on full display. It seemed as if Tua was picking on Queen all game long. Josh Bynes struggled in coverage. Malik Harrison had a good game setting the edge, something Oweh and Houston failed to do. The lack of depth at the outside linebacker is rearing its ugly head. Reserve OLB Steven Means was carted off the field late in the second quarter.

The Arrogance Of The Coaching Staff

While extensively breaking down the defense’s collapse, let’s make no mistake about the defeat. This falls on head coach John Harbaugh. The unnecessary dependence on analytics is harming this team. When the offensive line is getting zero push, running a QB dive on fourth and one behind your worst run-blocking lineman is completely unnecessary. We were on the 40-yard line. Punt the ball away and pin them deep into their territory. That play undoubtedly swung the momentum in Miami’s favor. Harbaugh got cute with the play calling and we never recovered.

This loss is hard to swallow. I’ve been a Ravens fan since they got here in 1996. We have been spoiled in a way. Defenses of old would have never allowed a 28-point fourth-quarter letdown. They wouldn’t have needed 38 points to win, as 17 points were usually sufficient for our defense to pin their ears back and go to work. In recent years, the defense lacks that ”Ravens” mentality. Bend-Don’t Break swagger and pure, raw aggression from the defenders.

Am I upset? Of course. Am I overreacting to a week two loss? Probably. As my cohost Josh of our Flock The North Podcast stated last night, this is the type of loss that could come back to bite us when playoff seeding forms, given we make it that far this year. Something has to be done for the defense. They cannot go into Foxboro this coming Sunday as-is. Someone in Owings Mills, MD needs to see where Dee Ford and Chris Harris are hiding. Hopefully, this is just a dramatic overreaction to a pitiful loss.

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