The Baltimore Sun
12:30 PM EDT, October 23, 2013
A collection of what other media outlets are saying as the Ravens hit the bye week.
* USA Today's Jarrett Bell talks about the Ravens' issues heading into their break.
This is a good time for a bye and the chance to self-evaluate and reassess.
Last year the Ravens went into the bye with a stench, too, after getting blown out at home by the Houston Texans. It set the stage for the crucial team meeting when players vented concerns to Harbaugh, whose threats about job security should not be taken lightly.
* Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes about the Ravens' struggles to win close games.
In games decided by four points, the Ravens are 1-3 and the Bengals are 3-1. The Ravens' 19-16 loss in Pittsburgh was the latest game where the defending Super Bowl champions came up short.
* SI.com's Peter Bukowski mentions the best and worst rookies in Week 7, including feature backs. The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell receives mention for his play against the Ravens.
Running back has been the most loaded rookie position all season, despite questions coming into April’s draft about the potential number of high-impact players at the position. Eddie Lacy had 110 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 27 touches for the Packers, while Zac Stacey also had 20+ touches for St. Louis, racking up 87 yards and a score. Le’Veon Bell showed his promise against an intimidated Ravens front with 99 yards on 20 touches. Oddly, it was Giovani Bernard — facing the worst defense of the bunch — who disappointed with just 62 yards on 12 touches. Bernard, in his defense, continues to be underutilized in Cincinnati’s offense.
* Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune discusses former Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson and his leadership role with the San Diego Chargers.
Of the first nine years of his NFL career as an outside linebacker, all spent with the Baltimore Ravens, Johnson didn’t need to talk, just show up and play. On a team that made the playoffs six times while he was there, Johnson left the mentoring and rah-rah stuff to the larger-than-life personality of Ray Lewis.
Johnson came to the Chargers as a free agent last season and there was a similar leader in Takeo Spikes.
This year, Spikes didn’t come back and veteran linebacker Dwight Freeney was lost with an injury. With a team that has plenty of youth and inexperience at the position, guess who everybody is looking to now for leadership?
* FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager, who co-wrote "Strength of a Champion: Finding Faith and Fortitude Through Adversity" with the Ravens' O.J. Brigance, shares an excerpt from the book.
NFL power rankings roundup
* On ESPN.com, the Ravens drop two spots this week to No. 14.
Joe Flacco may not have saved any of his deep ball magic from last year's Super Bowl run. Flacco has no touchdowns on passes 20-plus yards downfield this season.
* Hensley explains ESPN.com's ranking for the Ravens.
No one can argue with the Ravens' current ranking. Actually, the voters are showing Baltimore a measure of respect. The Ravens (3-4) are the highest-ranked team with a losing record. Baltimore is even one spot ahead of the New York Jets, who are 4-3 this season. As one of six voters on the Power Rankings, I had the Ravens at No. 13.
* CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco lists the Ravens at No. 16, down four spots from last week.
They don't look anything like that Super Bowl team. It's time for Joe Flacco to pick it up.
* Former Ravens coach Brian Billick, on FoxSports.com, ranks the Ravens at No. 17, down four spots from last week.
The Ravens are the first defending champs to have a losing record after seven games in the following season since the 2006 Steelers.
* ProFootballTalk drops the Ravens three spots this week, to No. 14.
Joe Flacco needs to start earning his next contract.
* NFL.com's Elliot Harrison puts the Ravens at No. 17 this week, down two spots.
Tough to figure this group out. Ravens fans deposit a lot of anger on Twitter, particularly toward @Harrison_NFL, particularly when we pick their team to lose. But really, how can you pick Baltimore to do anything, win or lose? One could argue the Ravens are the most inconsistent team in football. Even last season's incredible playoff run came after a stretch in which they'd lost four of five. Baltimore is 8-8 over the past 16 regular-season games, notching impressive wins ( in Miami two weeks ago) and brutal losses ( in Buffalo the week prior).
* The Ravens fall three spots to No. 15 in this week's Associated Press Pro32 poll.
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