5 things we learned from the Ravens’ 16-10 loss to the Redskins

1.) The Ravens offense is lost without a compass.

Fans at M&T Bank Stadium spent much of the second half booing the Ravens offense, and their disgust was understandable.


An attack that had chewed through the feeble Redskins defense in the first quarter seemed lost, both in concept and execution.

Why did the Ravens abandon an effective running game? Why did Joe Flacco throw so many passes with no hope of producing first downs?


"I think we have to find our offense," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's been the story of the season."

After a week in which Flacco and Harbaugh said the offense seemed on the verge of clicking, we saw the opposite.  Flacco threw for a grand total of 210 yards on 46 attempts, abysmal efficiency by NFL standards.

If the Ravens don't figure something out quickly, the calls for substantive change will grow deafening, and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will be the target.

It's always hard to know how much blame to apportion to an assistant coach. But the franchise quarterback and the longtime head coach seemed exasperated Sunday, and neither one of them is going anywhere. So that leaves one obvious person fit for a potential sacrifice.

It was puzzling to watch the Ravens abandon the run in the second and third quarters after Terrance West gained 60 yards on five carries in the first quarter.

Not coincidentally, the entire offense slowed down, gaining just 41 yards in the second quarter and 32 in the third.

When the Ravens went back to West on the last play of the third quarter, he turned a simple counter into a 27-yard gain. He then disappeared into the no-carry zone again.

Trestman's play calling after the Ravens recovered a fumble on the Washington 15-yard line was especially perplexing. Flacco completed two passes for a combined 1 yard on first and second down, and then handed to West for a doomed draw on 3rd-and-9.

On 4th-and-12, Justin Tucker lined up as a left-footed kicker and attempted a pass off the fake field-goal formation. To be fair, if Tucker had lofted the ball an extra three or four yards, tight end Crockett Gillmore probably would have caught it for a touchdown. But it was a play on which the bad possibilities vastly outweighed the good.

The bizarre sequence of calls meant the Ravens failed to score any points after the defense delivered prime field position.

Because of such missed opportunities, the Ravens fell behind in the third quarter of a game they seemingly could have led comfortably.

2.) Instability of the offensive line is exacerbating the Ravens' offensive woes.


Rookie Alex Lewis started at left tackle and John Urschel at left guard, meaning the left side of the line has been different in each of the past three weeks.

After right tackle Rick Wagner went out with a thigh injury early in the third quarter, the Ravens played the rest of the game with only one starter, center Jeremy Zuttah, in his normal spot.

The cobbled-together line allowed three sacks, eight tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits against a defense that entered the game 25th in the league against the pass and 30th against the run.

"I think, obviously, when you don't have your original 11 out there, you're not in the most ideal situation," Flacco said. "But I think those guys step in and they play very hard, and they do a great job. It probably affects you a little bit, but it's not an excuse -- not to be as bad as we were today."

The offensive problems are too broad to be pinned on one group. But the line affords an offense its stability, and with so much chaos there, it will be hard for the Ravens to find order in their overall picture.

3.) Kick coverage has officially become a problem.

The Ravens had knocked the Redskins back on their heels midway through the first quarter when Washington returner Jamison Crowder fielded a Sam Koch punt on his own 15-yard line.

Nineteen seconds and a pile of coverage mishaps later, Crowder was in the end zone and the Redskins were in business without having done a thing against the Ravens defense.

"That's what gave them the spark to get back in the game, in my mind," Harbaugh said.

Zachary Orr missed a tackle on Crowder and several other Ravens took poor angles that left them out of position to stop the Redskins returner.

The Redskins followed that with a 45-yard kickoff return by Will Blackmon in the second quarter.

Special teams coach Jerry Rosburg was visibly upset with his team's kick coverage during practice last week, and he must have been on the verge of an aneurysm as he watched his players flail at Crowder and Blackmon.

"I really can't explain it," Orr said. "I don't think it's anything scheme-wise. It's just us as players have to go out there and make plays and make tackles."

Harbaugh offered a similar view, saying the team's young players have not stepped up to their special teams responsibilities.

"That has to change," he said. "We're not having it."

4.) Michael Pierce is a find.

The rookie nose tackle doesn't play the majority of snaps or accumulate the stats that would make him a sensation to the wider world.

But every week, the 6-foot, 339-pound Pierce seems to do something that makes you look up.

In the second quarter Sunday, he powered up the middle to nail Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, causing Cousins to overthrow an open receiver on a potential touchdown.

Pierce's tremendous burst off the line has made him an unexpected pass-rushing threat who substitutes in on third down.

The undrafted rookie from Samford was on the bubble to make the Ravens roster at the end of training camp. But Ozzie Newsome and his staff have always taken pride in finding and developing players such as Pierce.

He was the only undrafted free-agent rookie to make the team this year. Now, he's an intriguing piece of the Ravens' future.

5.) The Raiders and Redskins losses are going to haunt the Ravens come December.

As players and coaches tried to find reasons for optimism, they repeatedly noted how much time they have to fix the flaws on a talented team.

But a realistic look at the schedule suggests otherwise.

Over the last four weeks of the season, the Ravens will host the Philadelphia Eagles and play the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals on the road. Even if they're healthy and playing well, that could be a 1-3 month.

To feel good about their playoff chances, they'd want to go into that stretch 9-3 or 8-4. Two straight home losses to middling teams have pushed that goal significantly farther from their grasp.

They can no longer afford to slip up against the Giants or Jets the next two weeks on the road. And November home games against the Steelers and Bengals now look like must wins.

This was the time of year to load up against beatable opponents, and the Ravens didn't do it.


They've backed themselves into a corner, even though no one from the franchise is likely to say so.

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