Baltimore Ravens: Midseason Grades for the 2012 Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens have had a rather interesting season thus far. At 5-2, they are first in the AFC North and second in the entire AFC. So far so good, right?
No, not really.
Neither the media nor the the fans seem very high on the Ravens. Inconsistent play, close games and injuries have all played a role in their somewhat low power ranking, even though they have a 1.5-game lead in their division. Their 43-13 shellacking at the hands of the Texans didn't help matters much, either.
Let's take a look at the Ravens' grades for each position going into their Week 8 bye.
Elite or not elite, that continues to be the question.
Sometimes he looks elite. Sometimes he doesn't. That inconsistency continues to plague Joe Flacco.
After Week 4, this grade would have been right around an A. At the quarter mark, Flacco was averaging 300-plus yards per game and had seven TDs to only three INTs.
However, his performance has dropped since then. A couple of TDs and three picks in three games isn't "elite." Failing to reach 200 yards in two of those three games is also disappointing.
Overall, Flacco's performance has been average. He has been throwing the ball more than ever this year, so he is on pace to throw for more yards than he ever has. However, Joe is also on pace to throw 14 picks, which would also be a career high.
Is it Ray Rice's fault that he hasn't gotten the ball enough this year?
He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry, he hasn't fumbled and he continues to be a threat in the passing game. It's anyone's guess why Rice hasn't gotten the ball more. Maybe, after he looked worn down in the playoffs last year, the coaching staff is trying to save him for later? Who knows.
The Ravens' backup, Bernard Pierce, has done a solid job spelling Rice this season, averaging over five yards per carry in limited time. And Vonta Leach continues to be a beast of a blocker.
The running backs have been great this season, even though it seems the offense is transitioning into a pass-first offense.
The Ravens' receiving corps has had a solid season.
Torrey Smith continues to improve, leading the team with four TDs. Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta have been solid possession receivers all year. And while Jacoby Jones has slowed down in his production after the first few weeks, he still remains a constant deep threat.
The only noticeable absence in the passing game this year has been tight end Ed Dickson. After outperforming fellow tight end Dennis Pitta in 2011, Dickson has lost all momentum in 2012 and is clearly the No. 2 tight end, having only eight receptions in seven games.
The Ravens have done well holding on to the ball so far in 2012. Only eight drops is good for second best in the NFL.
It is also worth noting that the receiving corps, along with the running backs, have yet to fumble this year. The Ravens, as a team, have only fumbled once all year, and that was by Joe Flacco in Week 2.
The Ravens' O-line hasn't been very good this season. However, they haven't been completely terrible. In some games they've looked solid, while in other games—notably against Houston—they've looked horrible.
Perhaps they would look better if the Ravens ran the ball more...
Losing Ben Grubbs to free agency in the offseason has hurt a bit, but there's still a long way to go. As the young players like Kelechi Osemele and Ramon Harewood get more experienced, they should improve.
The biggest disappointment for the Ravens this year has been the D-line.
The Baltimore Ravens' defense is usually known for shutting down the run. Not this year.
The Ravens have already allowed 1,000 rushing yards, which is third-worst in the NFL. They have also allowed nine rushing TDs, which is second-worst.
Sacks have also been hard to come by, as the Ravens' have only recorded 12.
With Haloti Ngata playing hurt, someone else on the D-line has to step up or these numbers could get even uglier.
The same depressing stats that were given in the D-line slide can be repeated on this linebackers slide.
Seriously, 1,000 yards through seven games? That's dreadful, especially by Ravens standards.
With the return of Terrell Suggs, the Ravens' sack total should rise. The question is, how will they survive without Ray Lewis?
If Week 7 is any indication...not very well.
This grade may seem slightly high for a secondary that has given up 1,888 receiving yards, which is ninth-worst in the NFL, but hear me out.
The Ravens have only allowed six passing TDs, which is tied for the fewest in the NFL. They are also in the Top 10 in passes defended.
As a team, the Ravens have seven interceptions, two of which were returned for TDs. All seven of those picks were made by members of the secondary.
So, yes, the Ravens' secondary has given up a lot of yards. However, they've made some key plays and, for the most part, have stopped the big ones.
Losing star corner Lardarius Webb for the season won't help matters, though.
Special Teams have been a strength for the Ravens in 2012.
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker has made 14 of his 15 field goals, including all four that he's attempted from 50-plus yards.
Sam Koch continues to do a fantastic job punting.
Even the return game has been solid for the Ravens, as they average 28.8 yards per kick return and only allow opponents 21.2 yards.
The Ravens are 4-1 in their last five games. In that span, their point differential is minus-17. Whatever works, right?
The AFC isn't very strong this year. The Ravens should be able to make the playoffs even without Ray Lewis or Lardarius Webb.
Do they look like Super Bowl contenders? Not really. But neither did the Giants last year after a four-game losing streak put them at 6-6.