Baltimore Ravens: Who's to Blame for the Team Playing Down to the Competition?

Zach EvansContributor IOctober 8, 2012

Joe Flacco gets sacked in a game vs. Kansas City
Joe Flacco gets sacked in a game vs. Kansas CityPeter Aiken/Getty Images

We've heard it all before.

The Baltimore Ravens win big games, then the following week they have a letdown against a lower opponent that they should beat.

For the last three to four years, it seems every time the Ravens win a big game, the next week they struggle against an inferior opponent. Not to take away from any team in the NFL; no game in the NFL is an easy win. You don't see many of those "elite" teams that people consider the best struggle the way the Ravens struggle.

It's been well-documented that the Ravens have struggled after a big win.

Week 1 last year, a big 35-7 win over the Steelers was followed by a disappointing loss to the Titans. After consecutive wins over the Jets and the Texans, the Ravens then lost to Jacksonville in a porous Monday Night Football game.

After another big win over the Steelers, they lost to Seattle the next week, (Seattle is a very tough place to play). In 2010, after a huge MNF win again versus the Jets, the Ravens then lost to the Bengals in dismal fashion, turning the ball over five times in a 15-10 loss. 

The Ravens had a huge MNF win to open the year against the Bengals and then followed it with a 24-23 loss to the Eagles. I am not taking anything away from the Eagles, they are a very good team, but most of us can agree that the way the Ravens played that second half was pretty awful. Their offense went down the drain and just couldn't produce anything at all (albeit the possible game winning TD throw to Jacoby Jones which was called back).

The Ravens beat the Patriots the following week on Sunday night via a Justin Tucker game-winning field goal. Their defense struggled the following week against the Browns in a rainy night in Baltimore but came up big when it mattered and won 23-16.

Then we have yesterday's 9-6 win against the Chiefs, in which the defense and Justin Tucker led with the way with four forced turnovers and three field goals respectively.

What happened to the offense?

Ray Rice had over 100 yards but Flacco was just 13 for 27 with 187 yards and an interception. The wide receivers dropped balls, Flacco was running around in the pocket because his offensive line couldn't block and the receivers weren't getting open.

So why couldn't the Ravens get up for the Chiefs?

Why have they always had problems getting up for lesser teams?

You cannot single in on one sole factor. 

First of all, it has got to be coaching. I love John Harbaugh; in my 14-plus years of being a Ravens fan, he's been my favorite coach so far (not that we've had much to choose from). But it is the coach's responsibility to adequately prepare his team for the upcoming week and to get them motivated and ready to play.

John Harbaugh and his coaching staff obviously aren't doing a good enough job. I reiterate how much I love John and the job he has done with the Ravens, but this isn't just a one-time deal.

This has happened frequently in his time with the Ravens.

It's been overshadowed by the Ravens great record when following a loss. They hardly lose two in a row under Harbaugh. You have to question his motivational skills. Or is it just a lack of motivation on the part of the team? With Ray Lewis leading you, it can't be too hard to become motivated.

So what's the problem?

Is it the players?

Do they have trouble getting up for the lesser opponents? I'm not sure. I'm sure good NFL teams expect to win games, but I don't think they slack off when preparing. That's their job, and although they sometimes take it lightly, they're the ones getting paid to do what they do and their lack of performance can affect whether they have a job or not.

In regard to the Ravens, when they struggle against lesser teams, it seems to be because the offense struggles to get anything going. So how accountable can they be for the struggles? Does it fall on one of the league's most scrutinized offensive coordinators, Cam Cameron?

What is your opinion on what causes the Ravens to play down to lower opponents?

Is it the coaching?

The players?

Leave your opinions below, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks.