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Evan Washburn: Potential Ravens Changes Have Been 'Smoldering For A While Now'

November 7, 2018
Before the Baltimore Ravens' 26-13 loss Nov. 4 to their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers -- the team's third consecutive loss -- NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was on the hot seat.

Talks of organizational changes aren't exclusively a result of the Ravens' midseason skid, however. For CBS analyst Evan Washburn, it's been in the making for three years, and even a Ravens win against the Cincinnati Bengals following a bye week won't hush those rumors. 

"That's not a product of this season," Washburn said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 5. "That's the product of the last three, and whatever happens this year was going to ignite that or dampen that. That's been smoldering for a while now. What has happened has just lit that flame." 

Baltimore made the playoffs six times from 2008-2014, missing out only in 2013 with an 8-8 record. Annual expectations for the franchise grew during this time, especially after the team's second championship in Super Bowl XLVIII. 

More than halfway through the 2018 campaign, the Ravens are below .500 and are in jeopardy of missing the postseason for four consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996-1999. So even though the Ravens have lost three straight, possible changes have been brewing for the past several years. 

"That is going to hang around whether or not they beat Cincinnati or anybody," Washburn said. "It's a product of how long it's been what it is." 

Not long ago, it seemed the Ravens were silencing any talk of adjustments to personnel and the coaching staff in the near future. Baltimore was 4-2 and an extra point away from completing a game-tying drive against the New Orleans Saints Oct 21. 

Instead, kicker Justin Tucker missed a PAT for the first time in his career. Rather than forcing overtime to try to become 5-2, the Ravens lost by one point to kickstart a three-game skid. 

"I really think the way that New Orleans game ended rattled this team and rattled the defense," Washburn said. "It was a perfect storm in the sense that they had to face two teams that are completely the antithesis of what it is they're used to playing against." 

Through the first six weeks, the Ravens defense conceded 12.8 points per game and was establishing itself as one of the league's elite units. During their losing streak, though, that number has increased to 27.3 points per game. 

"As dynamic as [quarterback] Joe Flacco looked in the preseason, with the new weapons and new receivers," Washburn said, "I still felt success was going to live and die with the defense in a lot of ways."

At 4-5, the Ravens enter their bye week when they need it most. Even though the sky has started falling on the team in recent weeks, there are still ample opportunities to make the postseason if Baltimore can beat Cincinnati at home Nov. 18 to get back to .500 with six games left. 

With the Steelers now on a four-game winning streak and gaining steam in the division, the Ravens will look to make a push for a wide open wild-card race. So, while the organization might still be nearing changes regardless of a backdoor playoff berth, a postseason appearance isn't out of the realm of possibility. 
"The AFC, after the top four teams, is kind of a dumpster fire right now, so they have an ability to get themselves back into this as crazy as it may sound," Washburn said. "The Cincinnati game becomes the be-all, end-all of it." 

For more from Washburn, listen to the full interview here:

This has been updated.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox