It’s as bad as you think it is. In fact, it’s probably worse.
The Baltimore Ravens are 0-3, and someone you know will remind you this week that they’ve been in all three of their games and have had the ball late with a chance to win in at least two of them (technically all three, but the Oakland game would have required a miracle).
They’re not wrong. The Ravens’ dreadful record is perhaps not fully indicative of how the three games have played out so far this season. But that doesn’t mean the Ravens aren’t deserving of the scarlet “zero” they’ll be forced to wear on their uniforms when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football” Oct. 1.
The actual team itself is completely deserving of the 0-3 mark it carries. The reality for the franchise is that the players themselves (ever more so since linebacker Terrell Suggs went down with a season-ending torn Achilles Week One) on the current roster either haven’t been any good this season or aren’t any good, in general.
Let’s consider it this way: if individual players were allowed to have their own records instead of having to carry the team’s record, how many Ravens players would be better than 0-3 right now?
Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is the only player who could rightfully claim he deserves multiple wins. He’s probably owed two wins for his performances against the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals, the latter of which was otherworldly. (OK, maybe kicker Justin Tucker deserves two as well.) Quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Jimmy Smith are probably deserving of about a 1.5 wins each. Nose tackle Brandon Williams is probably deserving of a win, maybe even linebacker C.J. Mosley or tight end Crockett Gillmore deserve the same.
Anyone else? Seriously, has any other player on this roster done enough that they would individually deserve to not have to be recognized as winless?
Even more frightening? It’s not as if the roster has drastically played below its capability. This group’s performance has perhaps been even better than we could have realistically expected. It’s not that it hasn’t lived up to expectations — it’s that our expectations were so insanely out of kilter, because we based them on the performances of recent Ravens teams instead of by measuring the preponderance of talent that was actually assembled.
This roster just isn’t very good.
The pass rush (with deference to the loss of Suggs) has been anemic. Linebacker Elvis Dumervil made a massive play during the 28-24 Week Three loss to Cincinnati, but it was the only play he’s made all season. The secondary has been distressing (with deference to the lack of pass rush), with cornerback Jimmy Smith even allowing multiple big plays during the last two weeks. The run offense has been nonexistent. The pass offense has actually been acceptable at times, but has been carried by one 36-year-old receiver, Steve Smith Sr., who has been so dominant that we can’t even complain about his dehydration taking him off the field during one of the most important moments of the Week Three loss.
This isn’t a good football team.
That doesn’t mean I think the team is on its way to a 2-14 record. It would be very unlike a Flacco/John Harbaugh-lead football team to simply pack it in and play for a draft pick. Some might argue the team would be better off if it was to start being “So-so for Bo-sa.” (When we start chanting it at games in hopes of landing Ohio State pass rusher Joey Bosa, I promise it will rhyme just as well as Taylor Swift pairing “Bad Blood” and “Mad Love,” you guys.)
I think there’s a fair argument for that, considering the overall lack of high-level talent on the roster. The Ravens haven’t held a top-10 pick since 2008 (when they traded the No. 8 overall pick and selected Flacco at No. 18 and added running back Ray Rice during the second round) and haven’t used a top-10 pick since drafting Suggs No. 10 overall in 2003. A questionable collection of talent could be significantly aided by the team adding a top-notch selection during the 2016 NFL Draft.
But we’re not there yet. For now, the Ravens quickly transition to the Steelers, a road trip on a short week against a team that has no shortage of weapons, even without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger available because of a sprained MCL he suffered during Week Three.
The Ravens might very well figure out some way to win. But they’re almost certainly not erasing a three-game deficit (really 3.5 considering the tiebreaker scenarios) to what appears to be a very focused Bengals team before the end of the season.
There are going to be a lot of big-picture questions we’re going to find ourselves asking during the next few months, which is exactly what this franchise deserves based on the team it’s put together.
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