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Glenn Clark's Five Biggest Concerns About The Ravens

October 8, 2018
In a weird way, I'm not particularly panicked about the Baltimore Ravens' 12-9 loss to the Cleveland Browns Oct. 7. 

You might be thinking to yourself, "That's not weird, Glenn. It was one football game. No one should panic about it." And you'd be right. But since this is the Ravens losing to the Browns -- and even more importantly, losing to the Browns a week after registering their biggest regular-season win in recent memory -- there are more than a few people who have decided that panic is an appropriate response despite not being anywhere near the disco. 

But even if panic isn't the appropriate response, that doesn't mean there's no room for concern. Since we're five weeks into the NFL season, here are my five biggest concerns about the 3-2 Ravens: 

1. We gave the Ravens a lot of credit for "upgrading" at wide receiver. But when you don't actually have any, it doesn't take much to do that. We should have always been questioning if they had done enough.

Clearly receiver John Brown has been even more than advertised. I've been so excited about the former Arizona Cardinal I've had to be asked to leave the premises of multiple local middle schools because apparently in America it's frowned upon to run up to area children and scream "Let's go Smoke!" So much for showing pride in your favorite team, I guess. 

But receiver Michael Crabtree's six drops (the sixth being his critical touchdown drop in the fourth quarter Oct. 7 that would have likely been a game winner) are inexcusable. Drops were always going to be part of the story when the Ravens signed the veteran receiver, but if he continues to play like this the Ravens may still not have enough at the position to be able to win anything of significance. 

2. The Ravens didn't have enough talent on their roster for their top two picks in the 2018 to be anything other than immediate impact players. That picture is as blurry as a terrible Puddle of Mudd song right now.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is obviously a long-term project that the team is ham-fistedly forcing into the offense. It isn't helping and it makes no sense, but hopefully Jackson will be a good quarterback one day in order to justify the decision. (As an aside, I really want to double fist some hams right now.)

I had my issues with the Jackson selection because it appeared to signify the Ravens didn't recognize how deficient their roster was in terms of players who could be immediate difference makers in 2018. Drafting a now 25-year-old tight end in Hayden Hurst was equally puzzling. Tight ends rarely make much of an impact during their rookie season, and his advanced age makes a prolonged development more problematic. The Ravens, of course, had no way of seeing Hurst's preseason injury coming, further blurring all of this. 

Hurst didn't do much against the Browns, but in fairness it was his first career NFL game. But the Ravens can't afford for him to need the entire season to develop. He needs to come along quickly now that he's playing and become a key playmaker for this offense. 

3. Remember all of that praise we were lavishing on Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg last week? Ourselves may have gotten a little behind we.

It's understandable pass play calls would far outweigh run calls in blowouts. During the first half of the Ravens' Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, they HAD to start throwing the ball a bunch because they fell behind by three scores. They had to get back into the game somehow. 

But they managed to get back within a possession of the Bengals during the second half of that game, and the run-to-pass ratio was still roughly as lopsided as the girl-to-guy ratio at most of the parties I attended in college. Such was the same during the loss to the Browns. The Ravens ran the ball 25 times and threw 57 times (along with two sacks), making it 59 pass plays. 

Considering quarterback Joe Flacco also ran twice on designed pass plays, it's really a 23-to-61 ratio. Or the Ravens ran the ball 27 percent of their plays. There is no magic play calling formula (and there are any number of reasons for such a discrepancy), but this just seems illogical during a game in which the Ravens never trailed by more than six points. 

4. The kicker and punter are still really good, but the rest of special teams has been about as sloppy as Chris Farley dancing to an Adam Sandler song. 

The Ravens have had a punt and two kicks blocked this season, and both returners they've tried -- rookie Janarion Grant and second-year man Tim White -- have put the ball on the ground. Perhaps they try Baltimore native Cyrus Jones (Gilman) next, as he was released again by the New England Patriots. But these issues appear to be bigger than any one player. 

5. There's a lot to like about this defense. But there would be a lotter to like if there were a few more big plays. Yes, I just made "lotter" a thing. You're welcome.

Certainly the defense deserved a better fate for its effort during the Browns game. But considering this is still the side of the ball the Ravens have invested more in throughout the past five years, expectations are greater than simply playing well enough to win. Baltimore has averaged just one forced turnover per game this season. They need to make some bigger, game-changing types of plays as the season goes on. That's not asking for too much. 

But again, I'm not panicked. Seriously. I always stress eat an entire block of smokey bacon cheddar cheese on Sundays. 

Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox