I mean it’s just a pompous, self-serving, “Look at me! Look at me!” kind of thing to say. Usually, the person who is uttering this phrase finds some strange, cynical amount of joy in directing that oh-so-slight-personal-dig to the intended target.
The person might as well say. “Uh, obviously, I’m better AND smarter than you. Couldn’t you see (insert observation) coming?”
There are so many other ways to convey one’s opinion when one knows that he/she was correct in one’s assessment. There are many other tactful, graceful, empathetic means of communication.
One example that comes to mind is one of the iconic, yet tongue-in-cheek, lines from the Star Wars franchise (those that know me are probably surprised it has taken me 2 ½ months to work in a Star Wars reference). This phrase was first spoken in the original movie, and it later found its way in each of the other episodes.
Those of you fellow Star Wars nerds know the line. Those of you not as familiar with the series, the line I am referring to is, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Has Solo, one of the more prominent characters in the entire franchise, has uttered this line. Yes, the same swashbuckling, bull-in-a-china-shop, loud mouth who was once was called a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffly-looking Nerf herder,” has refrained from saying, “I told you so.” He has, on occasion, chosen a more humble approach—“I have a bad feeling about this.”
Well, since the middle of August—after about the third preseason game when the run game continued to struggle—my take on the Ravens’ has been optimistic caution.
Leading up to the Buffalo game, my outlook was even more reserved. My Plotlines: Buffalo post was etched with the underlying sentiment of, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Without further ado, here is this week’s Reality Assessment.
The Ravens averaged 2.7 yards per attempt on the ground. They gave up four sacks. The run game was so inefficient that the Ravens completely abandoned it in the second half.
Reality: I sound like a broken record, but the offensive line is the biggest concern moving forward. Their play is completely crippling the team.
My favorite statistic is this: the Ravens, through four games, have a total of 256 yards rushing. 256! That is like six quarters of work for Adrian Peterson. All joking aside, 14 NFL players have equaled or totaled 256 yards. Surprisingly, there are five teams who have less rushing yards then the Ravens.
The lack of run game, which was supposed to be a strength of the team coming into the season, has now caused the team to rely on the already suspect pass game—the actual preseason question mark. Weren’t the Ravens supposed to lean on the run game until they found some rhythm and working pieces in the pass game?
Due to the fact they were missing three fourths of their secondary, the Bills ran a ton of zone. The line couldn’t hold their blocks long enough for the receivers to exploit the zone concepts. Disappointing.
At the moment, the Ravens cannot run to open up the pass game, and they cannot pass to open up the run game.
Flacco Plays His Worse Game as a Raven
Joe Flacco threw a career high five interceptions. He stared down receivers, didn’t read coverages, and was inaccurate on several throws.
Reality: No way getting around this one. Flacco played poorly.
However, I don’t believe you can read too much into his poor play. The dude dropped back to pass 50 times, was under duress most of the game with 12 quarterback hits, and he had receivers dropping passes again.
Still, four of the interceptions lay squarely at his feet. The first pick, he didn’t read the coverage. It was a very nice play by cornerback Aaron Williams, but he obviously read Flacco’s eyes to get such a great break on the ball. The third interception was an ill-advised and underthrown pass to Torrey Smith in the end zone. Plus, it took points off of the board. The fourth interception was intended for Marlon Brown on the crossing route. Flacco misread the coverage. The fifth and final interception clanked off Dallas Clark’s hands and linebacker Kiko Alonso made a superb catch. While Clark appeared to drop the ball, Flacco forced the ball into some tight coverage.
Again, just a poor day at the office for Flacco.
Bonus Reality: One thing that really bugs me is how people fall all over themselves when describing how Tom Brady elevates the play of those around him. The argument is then used against Flacoo and how he needs playmakers around him to be successful.
While I am not arguing that Flacco is in the same league as Brady, I will argue that their situations are very different. Sure, both are breaking in new receivers—virtually an entire receiving corps for both quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Focus, both are quarterbacks are league leaders in the dubious statistic of yards in the air with drops—Brady with 155 yards dropped and Flacco with 138 yards dropped.
The major difference—and I mean major—is that Brady plays behind one of the better offensive lines in the league. Give Flacco five to six seconds to throw, and we may see how “he makes those around him so much better.”
Sorry, I had to get that off my chest.
The defense, statistically, had a decent game. They surrendered a bounty of rushing yards, but they also managed to snag three turnovers.
Reality: In the Reality Assessment after the Houston win, I said what is the equivalent to, “I have a bad feeling about this.” By this I meant the anointment of the return of a dominant defense. Many people felt differently than me.
Yet Sunday, I saw a defense that was too reminiscent of last year’s “bend, don’t break” version. Though they only allowed a third down conversion rate of 28 percent, the big needed stops were not had. They allowed a struggling Bills’ rush offense to get untracked.
The inability to stop the run opened up beautiful play-action opportunities for the Bills. Plus, it kept Elvis Dumervil on the bench, unless there were obvious passing downs. The defensive line allowed too much of a push, and missed tackles by Daryl Smith, James Ihedigbo, and Josh Bynes (Pro Football Focus and I disagree on his performance) hurt as well.
I still believe this defense will come together—it’s only week four. But, they still have their issues and they still need time to jell together into a cohesive unit. Hiccups like the Bills’ game are to be expected, but the leash is short.
11 Personnel is the Personnel Du Jour
With the Ravens forgoing the run in the second half, the Ravens leaned heavily on their 11 personnel—1 running back, 1 tight end, and 3 wide receivers. Is this a sign of the times to come?
Reality: Because I have very little faith and confidence in the run game, I think the Ravens’ best approach is to go with the 11 personnel. Spread out the defense, and test opposing defenses. Use screens, bubble screens, and draws to manufacture the run game and to keep the pass rush at bay.
The Ravens seemed to find a groove with Smith, Brown, and Deonte Thomspson. Barring a setback from his concussion, Thompson should be included in the game plan. I liked what Thompson provided in the pass game. Thompson’s speed and Smith’s speed will allow the big-bodied Brown to take command of the middle of the field. Clark can provide a presence in the middle of the field as well.
In my opinion, this will give the Ravens the best chance to succeed. I am not saying the will light the field on fire, but it has to provide a better option than the current run game.
Closing Reality Assessment
Coach John Harbaugh, I think, hits the nail on the head. I believe in this assessment, “We’re not the same team we were two months ago, and we’re going to be a different team two months from now.”
Let’s just hope the trajectory is pointing up.