Reports came out a few days ago from a handful of credible sources that the Baltimore Ravens and Head Coach John Harbaugh were preparing for a mutual split following the 2018 NFL season. Harbaugh has been the coach of the Ravens since the 2008 season. And the team has enjoyed some good memories with the tenured coach. A Super Bowl win in New Orleans, 15 playoff games, 10 of which were won. The first five of his six years in Baltimore were winning seasons. But ever since winning Super Bowl 47, it just hasn’t been the same team. Ever since Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were no longer there to be vocal leaders in the locker room and on the defense. Luck has certainly played a factor into why the Ravens haven’t been able to get themselves back into the playoffs. The Antonio Brown touchdown on Christmas two years ago that eliminated them from the playoffs. The 4th and 12 play that ended in a touchdown and ultimately ended up eliminating them from the playoffs as well. But bad luck doesn’t cause you to go 44-45 over the last five years.
The Ravens dropped to 4-4 yesterday afternoon, in what might be their most disappointing loss of this season. Losing 36-21 and now dropping three of their last four games. The team very much looked unrecognizable. The pass rush that led the league in sacks was no where to be found. Quarterback Cam Newton went virtually untouched thru four quarters. The top ranked defense that was atop of the NFL heading into the day gave up nearly 400 yards, giving up two passing touchdowns and two on the ground. The offense struggled as well and didn’t look much better than the defense. Having three turnovers, one on a fumble where Alex Collins’ could barely get the handoff before the rush got there. The other two came on two very questionable throws by Joe Flacco, throws a vet like him shouldn’t be throwing in year 11.
The Cowboys made a pretty questionable trade Monday afternoon. As they agree to trade their first-round draft pick in 2019 to the Oakland Raiders. Who next year, will be playing in Las Vegas. The Raiders now own three first rounders in this upcoming NFL Draft. We’re a long way away from April and knowing any type of draft order, but Gruden and the Raiders, could very possibly walk away with Nick Bosa, Devin White and Trayvon Mullen or maybe a player like DeAndre Baker depending on how the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys finish out their season. Players like those could really shape a team’s defense for the future. And they would also certainly help sell tickets out there in the desert.
If you weren’t watching the game Sunday afternoon, or if you haven’t seen, The Ravens defense had a sack party. Getting to quarterback Marcus Mariota 11 times. Having more sacks than Mariota had completions. Not giving him a clean pocket to throw out of all day. Also shutting out the AFC south leaders. The defense made quite the statement this Sunday, as they now are the NFL’s best defensive unit. But the player that really shined, was SAM linebacker, Za’Darius Smith. Racking up three total sacks and a force fumble in the shutout win in Tennessee. After Sundays win, Smith is currently tied for fifth among NFL sack leaders. Currently in front of guys like Khalil Mack, Myles Garrett and Aaron Donald.
Jon Gruden seems to be hell bent on trading every young player that’s hitting their prime on the current Raiders roster. They traded away Khalil Mack for two first round pick, looking back on a move like that, history will not be so kind to them. Now they are actively shopping around second year cornerback Gareon Conley, Karl Joseph and wide receiver Amari Cooper. Both players are 25 and under and can arguably say they haven’t even their prime.
It was a drop I didn’t quite understand on draft night. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley had been expected to be the first wide receiver off the draft board for just about all of the college football season. Even before that. Take it back to his freshman year in 2015 in the SEC championship game vs Florida when he torched upperclassmen Vernon Hargreaves and Marcus Maye. Watching that game most people were thinking: “This kid is going to be a high first round draft pick”.
It was a big week for the Ravens, beating their biggest foes in the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Both the offense and the defense did their jobs to take home the win. But the Baltimore defense especially looked fantastic. Shutting out Pittsburgh in the second half on six drives. Granted they’re without their best offensive player in Le’Veon Bell. Shutting out that offense thru two quarters is impressive nonetheless. Marlon Humphrey did a great job at keeping up with Antonio Brown holding him under 100 yards on the game. Overall, the defensive unit has been great the first four games of the season.