The future looks gloomy for these Ravens

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is no silver lining in the dark cloud that hangs over the Ravens.

There is no silver lining in the dark cloud that hangs over the Ravens.

They are just a bad football team.


They lost Sunday to the New York Jets, one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Ravens are moving into that class. Before the game, the Jets had lost four straight. Now, it's the Ravens who have dropped four in a row.

In the middle of these types of crises, football teams lose their soul, and the Ravens were on a soul-searching mission following the 24-16 loss to the Jets.

"Yeah, I mean, mistakes are frustrating and they hurt because obviously we gave the game away there, but the more frustrating thing is just the fact that we can't consistently do things well," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. "We're not good right now, and I think that's the biggest thing."

There is no argument here. On Sunday, the Ravens couldn't run or stop the run. They couldn't tackle or block opposing tacklers. They got a turnover and then turned it over again on the same play.

Those things happen to bad teams. They take bad luck to another level.

Some might point to the 50-, 49- and 44-yard field goals kicked by Justin Tucker, but that only points out that Ravens can't score touchdowns, let alone get inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Wasn't new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg supposed to give this offense a spark? Why do the new Ravens look a lot like the old Ravens?

Former coordinator Marc Trestman is probably sitting home and smiling these days. His problem is now Mornhingweg's because the Ravens still don't have playmakers on offense.

The dark cloud won't be going away soon. The Ravens have a bye week coming up, but then play Dallas, Philadelphia and New England in the second half of the season. as well as Pittsburgh and Cincinnati twice.

It's going to pour.

If the Ravens had a shot at doing something this season, they had to get off to a strong start in the first half of the season, but now they are 3-4.

If this season continues to get ugly, there will be some changes made at the end of it. There have to be, because the Ravens will have missed the postseason three out of four years. Last season was considered an aberration because of the injuries and the 5-11 record.

But that won't fly this season. The Ravens have enough talent to win against marginal opponents, but they lack a killer instinct. They have jumped out to 10-0 leads in the past two weeks, only to surrender them and lose.

A holding penalty by rookie offensive tackle Alex Lewis halted a drive that should have been deep inside Jets terrirory and could have led to a 20-7 lead late in the second quarter. And then rookie cornerback Tavon Young can't make a tackle on a key third-down play, which allowed the Jets to score a touchdown on the ensuing series.

It's always something.


"Killer instinct is executing when you get ahead, putting people away and making plays — taking advantage of the fact that they're down," coach Harbaugh said. "Whatever killer instinct translates to, we certainly don't have it right now. It's not just this group; it's been every single game for the last four weeks that we've lost. That's got to be fixed."

There are no quick-fix solutions. Flacco is beat up and playing poorly, but he was playing that way before he got hurt. His mechanics are sloppy and he seems to tire in the second half of games as he threw two interceptions in the final two quarters Sunday.

The Ravens' Terrance West had a 52-yard run nullified on that Lewis penalty, and the Ravens finished with only six yards rushing on 12 attempts. You almost have to try to be that bad.

The offensive line was missing two starters but the Ravens couldn't run early in the season when they were in the lineup. Harbaugh's once mighty, mighty men aren't so mighty anymore.

On defense, you'd figure the Ravens would tackle better after Odell Beckham Jr. turned a short pass into a long game-winning touchdown last week here, but the Ravens gave up another touchdown of 69 yards to Quincy Enunwa on Sunday.

The Ravens entered the game with the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, but the front seven appeared to get tired in the second half because the offense couldn't sustain a drive

That's a bad sign. This team and this city has always prided itself on defense and stopping the run, and that is now gone.

The blinders are on and nothing looks good straight ahead.

In the first three weeks of the season, the Ravens beat some poor teams, but they made plays and there was hope they would get better.

In the three weeks leading up to Sunday, they lost to capable quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning and Derek Carr.

On Sunday, they lost to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith, two quarterbacks the Jets really don't even want. At times, the Ravens are back to their problems of last year, in which they don't have playmakers at receiver or in the secondary.

But now, there is another problem. The confidence might be waning.

"We could have won all four of them," Ravens defensive end Timmy Jernigan said of the last four losses. "I feel like we could be undefeated right now. The only one that could stop us is us. So we have to do a great job to figure ourselves out, figure out what we're lacking as a team. Not just one side of the ball or anything like that. It's all about us. We win together, we lose together.

"Once we figure this thing out, the sky is the limit."

Right now, the sky is falling.