Ravens reach uncharted territory under Harbaugh in humiliating Monday night defeat


Owner Steve Bisciotti had previously expressed his displeasure over his team not playing a Monday night home again in the four years John Harbaugh has coached the Baltimore Ravens.
After a humiliating debacle in Jacksonville, however, Bisciotti might be asking that his team be left off the Monday night slate altogether.
The 12-7 loss to the Jaguars doesn’t top the Ravens’ embarrassing 38-7 meltdown in Pittsburgh on a Monday night in 2007, but at least that defeat came against an eventual playoff team. For as much credit as we should give Jacksonville’s defense in holding the Ravens to just seven points and 146 yards of offense, the Jaguars were 1-5 for a reason, entering Week 7 with the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL.

Though it’s just one loss in the grand scheme of a 16-game schedule, this offensive display is the type of performance that causes you to question who you are as a football team. These types of losses simply haven’t taken place in the Harbaugh era, as the Ravens entered Monday night with a 19-2 record against sub-.500 teams — the two losses coming against 0-1 squads — over the last four seasons.
And it was the Ravens’ second poor performance in three road games this season, their only victory away from M&T Bank Stadium coming against the winless St. Louis Rams.
This offense’s problems run far too deep to simply point the finger at one or two individuals.
Many will point to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, whose seat is hotter than it’s been at any point during his four seasons in Baltimore. Even if the Ravens would elect to go the same route they did in 2006 when they dismissed coordinator Jim Fassel after two straight losses, there is no logical replacement to turn to on the current coaching staff.
It’s become more apparent he doesn’t have the right brush to paint this Ravens offense into a masterpiece.
But, Cameron wasn’t part of an offensive line that created little running room and failed to provide adequate protection for the quarterback.
Running back Ray Rice rushed for only 28 yards on eight carries and coughed up the football, ending a streak of 522 consecutive touches in the regular season without a fumble.
The wide receivers again failed to create any separation against Rashean Mathis and the Jacksonville secondary that blanketed them in coverage until late in the fourth quarter.
And quarterback Joe Flacco looked confused and overwhelmed throughout the night, much like he did against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2 and against the New York Jets three weeks ago. He was slow in making decisions, and another disconnect with Cameron was apparent late in the game as the Ravens tried to run some semblance of a two-minute offense, taking far too much time considering they weren’t using a huddle.
Instead of making bigger strides in his fourth season at the helm of the Baltimore offense, Flacco is regressing into a more inconsistent quarterback than we’ve ever seen in the Delaware product.
In the context of a professional football game that more closely resembled a Pop Warner contest, it was as disastrous as it gets offensively. To go nearly three quarters without collecting a first down and compiling just 16 yards of offense in 25 first-half plays is unacceptable.
And it begs a very serious questions after such an eye-opening performance.
Are the Ravens really all that good?
For all the talk over the last couple weeks debating whether the Ravens were the best team in the AFC, they have now lost two of their three road games against pedestrian opponents.
It’s true the Ravens have looked impressive at home, winning all three of their games at M&T Bank Stadium, but take a look over the last decade and you’ll find they’re always good at home — even in their worst seasons in recent memory.
In 2005, the Ravens were 6-2 at home despite finishing the season with a 6-10 record. Two years later, Baltimore managed a 4-4 home record on their way to a 5-11 campaign that cost coach Brian Billick his job.
Of course, that’s not to say the Ravens are destined for failure in 2011 — far from it — but their current inconsistency on the offensive side of the football doesn’t exactly forecast many road wins this season.
As we’ve said for much of the season, will the real Ravens offense stand up?
It will be a very interesting week in Owings Mills, one that will cause Harbaugh to reevaluate every facet of his team’s offense, from coaching and personnel to tempo and overall execution.
And it’s something the Ravens head coach needs to figure out before a potential wedge is driven between a lackluster offense and a championship-caliber defense.
There weren’t enough fingers to point at all the problems surrounding the Ravens offense on Monday night.
But it needs solutions very quickly to avoid a repeat of what happened in Jacksonville.