As wimpy as the Ravens offense has looked at times so far in 2016, and as difficult as the Ravens have found it to match up in defensive coverage against the elite receivers of the game, they are actually a better team than last year’s edition and are silently growing new talent. Best of all, at 5-5 they are still within reach of a late-season run to the top of their embattled AFC North division.
Baltimore fans are upset with the slow progress of the offense under new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. QB Joe Flacco is still struggling with some accuracy issues as he is fighting the after-effects of ACL surgery which prevent his throwing from a steady base. Jimmy Smith, the Ravens’ best prime-time cornerback, is hurt again (back). Their best offensive lineman Marshal Yanda is playing with one arm, basically, his right shoulder heavily taped.
But there you are at 5-5 with your 2016-season’s destiny still under your own control.
Glass half full— and coming off a tough game where you stood toe-to-toe with the Dallas Cowboys in their house and came within a few big plays of knocking them down. You still lead the AFC North, have three games left against division rivals and control your own path to a playoff berth.
“Nobody likes to lose, especially a big game, but this wasn’t a one-game season,” Ravens safety Eric Weddle said. “Everyone needs to understand that we’re still going to come to work [this week], and you better have a great attitude that you want to get better and you want to work, and not be down in the dumps just because we lost a game against one of the best teams in the league.”
“I hope and I believe this team will look at each other, look at ourselves first, and realize these little things, little mistakes that you do against a good team on the road come up and bite you,” Weddle said. “Let’s reel it in. Let’s work at the little things. We are still a confident team.”
The positive attitude expressed by Weddle is just one of many things for Ravens fans to embrace in gratitude.
“I think the thing to take from the Dallas game is if we play good, solid football and play winning football, eliminate the mistakes, we would have won the game in my mind,” HC John Harbaugh said. “That’s how I look at it.”
“I think we’re fine, honestly,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “Obviously, you want to win every time you step on the field, but we know that’s not realistic. But we’re still in a good spot. We lead the division. We control our own destiny. That’s the way you want it.”
“Our eyes go to next week against Cincinnati at home,” Harbaugh said. “Six-game season and we need to take care of our business and part of that’s improving. We’ve got to improve.”
“Everything is right there in front of us,” Weddle said. “Basically the message is just stay confident. Everything is right there. It is a 16-game season. This season is going to be defined by these next six games.”
That’s another thing to be thankful for—at this same point last year, the Ravens season was already over—and the team was virtually destroyed by injury.
Other points of thanksgiving:
Mike Wallace has become a really important target again—this time for Baltimore instead of Pittsburgh;
Steve Smith Sr. is healthy and ready to become an offensive force again down the stretch;
Running backs Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon are emerging as real-deal weapons;
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is having a Pro Bowl kind of year;
OLB Terrell Suggs is successfully playing through a biceps injury and it looks like he will be setting the edge at a high level for the rest of the season;
Linebackers C.J. Mosley and Zachary Orr are healthy and are guaranteed to improve in coverage as the Ravens pass rush gets dialed up in intensity;
WR Breshad Perriman is healthy and is a secret weapon the Ravens have barely tapped yet;
Finally for today, the Ravens have the best placekicker in the NFL in Justin Tucker, and possibly the best punter in the league in Sam Koch.
Happy Thanksgiving to all…