It wasn’t a great day for the efficiency of the Todd Monken offense in Phoenix against a 1-7 Cardinals team. Luke Jones and Nestor discuss the sputtering offense and inconsistencies of the Ravens progress as they come home for three games and a chance to pull away in the AFC North.
game, played, offense, point, defense, ball, run, weird, week, nfl, year, lamar, ravens, team, quarterbacks, minutes, win, throw, sunday, great
Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones
Nestor Aparicio 00:01
Welcome back, WN S, T, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are back on the beat here and certainly watching some football. Waiting for the end of this baseball thing. I am rooting against both of these teams. But in the meantime, the Ravens do play once a week. They’re gonna play twice, two weeks from now as well making their way home which is a little unusual these days. They put a lot a lot a lot of road games. The Phoenix Cardinals of Arizona were the latest victims along the trail of how can we be a Super Bowl contender, but not play like it every week. Look, Joe joins us now we’ve you know, we’ve seen this record before certainly in the NFL, not an easy thing to go out to the West Coast and win games at four o’clock thing. Like Michael Pearce admitted he woke up at four o’clock in the morning and sit there and twiddle his thumbs. I’m familiar with what that feels like on the West Coast trip being in and out for 48 hours as well. Look, I don’t want to say they played like they slept walk. I just I think we’re all looking for this better version of them that we’ve seen one time, as I pointed out last week, once you see it once you believe you can see it. Not consistently because it’s the NFL and the other teams trying hard. But at least being able to put things together. That was a that was an effort that almost got them blown up by one in six team on the West Coast. We’ve seen this with Pittsburgh, we’ve seen with Indianapolis, it was a little bit troublesome. I’m not worried about them in the big picture of winning football games, because they won. But you know, the fact that they’re going through some adversity, they’re learning some lessons here, are they not? Yeah, I really struggle
Luke Jones 01:35
with this football game. Because I think through the first 50 minutes, the narrative or and so many fans bristle at that term narrative when I say narrative, just if you told me to tell the story of the game, you know, what’s the
Nestor Aparicio 01:48
first thing we’re talking about is the narrator. Right? Yeah, right. But
Luke Jones 01:51
the first 50 minutes of the game, what we saw, and how it played out, does not at all match what the final score was, right? I mean, the first 15 minutes of the game was the defense, which has been the much more consistent side of the football through the first half of the season is we’re now basically at the halfway point eight games in a 17 game schedule. And the the offense after this, seemingly having this breakthrough a week ago against Detroit looked more like the offense that we’ve seen for, you know, the previous six games of the season where it looks really, it’s looked good at times, but then it bogs down, there are times where they run the ball well, and there’s other times they don’t run the ball well or don’t even try to run the ball all that much. There are times where the passing game looks really really good. It didn’t look so good on Sunday. And so it was really a game that looked like it was going to be okay. Well, the defense leads the way again, Michael Pearce with this great performance, which he certainly played great. But then you see the last 10 minutes of the game and the defense. It was a bit too much to chalk up just to be in garbage time. Let’s be clear. From the moment the Ravens took a 14 Seven lead at late in the first half. I never really felt like the game was remotely in doubt from that point on. I really didn’t. But you just
Nestor Aparicio 03:17
want to clean it up and get on the plane and come home, right? I mean, it’s if clowny falls on the football, what we’re talking about a different game here. I mean, to play and pussyfoot around with them for four and a half minutes at the end of the game, letting them onside kick, and then let them go down the field score. You know, shut the door, close the game. They’d be be be 62 Team beating a one and 17 be that team.
Luke Jones 03:40
Yeah, but at the same time, it’s a reminder of just how weird the NFL is. Look for every statement game like the Ravens made last week. There’s a lot of weird stuff that goes on. And Sunday was a perfect example of that. I mean, who would have figured the lousy Denver Broncos defense holds Kansas City to nine points. And the Chiefs had one loss all year until Sunday’s game and I get it was cold. mahomes was sick, you know was added to the injury report over the weekend, however you want to
Nestor Aparicio 04:08
look like you’re gonna win the Super Bowl. We were at the star two weeks ago and they got their ass kicked. They’re like before in San Francisco. So like, bad losses are one thing, just having a good performance having a solid 60 minutes. Over the half way point of the season. We can see this is a good football team. They’re six and two, we can see all the potential we can see all the stars in the Star Makers and the guys who have big contracts and the guys whose names have been lit up on Broadway obj and three letters and think we’ve got something here and then you see him do that against the lions and you’re like well, now we know how good they can be. I don’t measure them on Halloween. It’s an escape game. And to me, I’ve watched the league, you know, I was watching those Houston Oiler jerseys thinking about Dan Passerini 1973 On Sunday, but I’ve been watching the game a long, long time, half a century I have never missed The weekend to football or games. And this isn’t uncommon that they would play this way. But it is disappointing. And I think they get on the plane and they they’re on the way back home. We won. But they also we got stuff to clean up. I’ve never heard hardball start a postgame press conference by saying we weren’t great. That was weird. I would have liked him. That was a weird version of John. He was choking before he came to the podium. I don’t know what happened. But it was like we got kayfabe. John instead of Ball Coach John, for the press conference, it was like, Do you think this is the preseason sit down when nobody knows about me? Because it was just weird. But he even admitted that they didn’t look like Lamar didn’t show the vibe of a victorious quarter. So that’s good, because I think they know, they can’t play like that and beat Cincinnati two weeks from now the way Cincinnati is played.
Luke Jones 05:44
Oh, yeah. I mean, no question about it. Again, it’s just I struggle with this name, because I don’t think there was anything about it. That strikes this major alarm or panic button or anything like that. I mean, we’ve seen this offense play like this. This is who they are until they start stalking. Dominant offensive. Yeah, the defense has largely been dominant this year, and they weren’t over the last 10 minutes. But I’m gonna get Mike McDonald’s group the benefit of the doubt because they have played at an elite level. Just about every single week. I mean, even the games that they lost, it’s not as though they were awful against Indianapolis. It’s not as though they were awful. They were great against Pittsburgh except for one play basically. And that cost them the football game because their offense was so lousy, and
Nestor Aparicio 06:32
they played six backup quarterbacks or five.
Luke Jones 06:36
So Houston rookie quarterback, they played Joe burrow with on one leg who certainly looked way better in San Francisco. They’ve had three stars. Yeah, indeed, backup quarterback, although Gardner Minshew versus rookie quarterback, you know, we can kind of debate that they clearly haven’t played an imposing slate of quarterbacks. But as I noted it Baltimore positive.com This past week, Nestor go back and look at the first half of the 2000 season, ravens were playing a ton of great quarterbacks that year, even for a historic defense. So your schedule is what it is right? You can’t control who you’re playing. So So for me, in the big picture sense, this defense has earned every benefit of the doubt they’ve played at a very high level, they’ve been much more consistent than the offense has been, where the offense it’s been, you know, their success has been more fleeting, those times where they look dominant, or championship caliber, certainly much more fleeting. But again, as you pointed out, it’s a weird trip. You’re out in the desert. It’s one only the second time in the last 20 years they played out there, which is just kind of weird. When you think of the scheduling cork leading to that I had
Nestor Aparicio 07:43
to think about that because I did the Sun Devil Stadium game. Yeah, many years ago, where Peter ball were made the big play at the end of the game I was at that game was like 1613, but I’m Dude, my cousin was in high school. It was 1999 or two. It was a Super Bowl year, wasn’t it?
Luke Jones 07:59
Yeah, they played out their weight, up late in 2000. And then we
Nestor Aparicio 08:03
went out there and got our ass kicked in a Monday night game when my wife was dying in a game I never should have gone to in 2015 I could tell exactly when that game was. It was an October 2015. I remember getting on a plane to one of the biggest mistakes ever made. My life was going to cover that football game. And I ran into Neil Schoen and Jonathan Cain in the elevator on the way out from Germany because they played the pregame by the way, I miss Sugar Hill Gang on Sunday. Damn, if I didn’t know that I would have gone down from Vegas for that, you know?
Luke Jones 08:30
Right, right. But they also played there and Oh, three that was a Chris McAllister pick six where he got flagged for taunting, I remember that. But But yeah, they haven’t been out there. So it’s a sleepy trip. It’s a weird, you know, on TV. I don’t I don’t know how it came across on on your television, the TV broadcasts, it seemed like there were a decent number of Ravens fans there. But they didn’t have a ton to cheer about because we didn’t get to see a whole lot of fireworks on offense. You know, Lamar had the flip, you know, the flip pass. That was impressive. But he only took off a couple times, you know, didn’t run for much. They didn’t throw for much. And it was really the defense that led the way for 50 minutes. But then you get to the final 10 minutes and you look at it and you look at the final score. And anyone who didn’t watch the game on Sunday is saying what? Oh, well, the Ravens offense played much better. And hey, their defense was a little bit off and really wasn’t how the game played out until the final seven or eight minutes.
Nestor Aparicio 09:26
I’m gonna say to Christian Horton Hollywood casino this week getting cover.
Luke Jones 09:30
Yeah, well, yeah. And anytime you’re talking about and I don’t you know me I’m not a sports gambling guy. But you see a spread that gets up to eight and a half nine, nine and a half for a road team. Yeah, that’s usually when you want to stay away from and, and Sunday was a perfect example. And look, was this really a game that felt like a one score game most of the way? No, it didn’t. But it’s what it was. And I think we we kind of look at the Ravens. Kind of like that team. We were taught Talking about going into the Detroit game where I think universally, you view them as a playoff team. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, you know, but at the same time, they have this reputation for not playing a complete 60 minutes. No, some people call it a, they play with their food a little bit, you know, however you want to characterize it play down to the competition a little bit. It’s hard to argue with it, but with the way that some of these games have gone, where they’ve looked really good at times, and then other times, it’s, you know, you’re kind of asking, what was that? What, why didn’t you step on their neck? Why didn’t you finish it off. And part of that is, that’s the nature of the NFL, especially in 2023, where every team in the AFC right now, we’ve got four teams at six, and two in the AFC right now. And all four of those teams you can point to and say, Oh, they didn’t like how they played in those games, or, you know, they went through a little stretch where they didn’t look as good. Buffalo is a great example of this. Cincinnati is a great example of this. But you look at this conference, and it feels as wide open as it can feel acknowledging Patrick mahomes and Kansas City and what they’ve done over the last three or four years. So in that sense, the ravens are in their in perfect position doesn’t mean they’re a perfect, perfect football team. But they’re in perfect position as it pertains to the hierarchy in the AFC but yeah, I mean, that Sunday’s game was one where they’re up three scores, and you’re thinking, Okay, put this thing away. And it’s not the most impressive performance of the season. But it’s no, it’s what you wanted to do. But instead, you get this choppy, weird, almost bizarre fourth quarter where everything that we saw over the course of 50 minutes, it kind of became the opposite at the end where the defense faltered, and the offense finally got the running game going at the end. So again, a weird game. But as I wrote at Baltimore positive.com. For every statement game that you see in the NFL, like the Ravens seemingly made a week ago, you’re gonna find a lot of weird games, a lot of weird results, and frankly, probably not all that consequential to what the ultimate story of the 2023 Baltimore Ravens is going to be.
Nestor Aparicio 12:07
Alright, so the thing that I wrote about in my calmness is the fact that the rounding and by the way, the buys really weird this year, right like, and they’re scheduled with these West Coast Games in London, now you’re into it, you’re like, alright, they’re home for a while, they got three games, and they get a lot of rest after that Cincinnati game. And then they have a West Coast, a by, you know, then then they play and then they have another west coast at Christmas time. And the by being late, given their injuries and given the home cooking they’re about to have and the fact that they’ve had a week schedule, they played back of quarterbacks, they won the most impressive game that they could win at home against the team that is coming off the other side of the NFC thinking they’re pretty good. The schedule has been fortunate for them in a lot of ways and I think with their injuries early on in September when they’re out there running around without Humphrey without Stanley without just without backing without Bateman without Kyle Hamilton without you know, with guys that were banged up earlier in the year. The thing that heartens me for them and their coaches and the organization to think that they can win a Super Bowl or put themselves in they they put themselves in a position now as long as Lamar stays healthy and because said that the last two years as well. I’m always running drawers, you know, with a nine point lead at the end of the game. I mean, it’s like starting to run the ball then as like, this is exactly when you need Gus Edwards or just somebody else to not fumble the ball. But I look at their health and think it’s about as healthy as you can expect him to get the Marcus Williams I don’t even know call him a raven. He’s been off the field more he’s been on the field. I don’t even I it was like sort of like Ronnie Stanley, you’re gonna think like, is he still on the team wake me when he’s available. And that’s okay. And the Dobbins thing, like you were higher on him than I was just in a general sense that he was going to be a 1500 yard, you know, Bell cow kind of back. And they were gonna give him the ball that much. And we’re halfway through the season and my prediction of them not throwing the ball very much. It’s true, and not throwing it very well. And you and I will make that argument that if they throw it well, they throw it more. And when they when the running game goes away when that down and distance piece on first down, goes away they struggle. But the problem that I had with the performance is it’s one thing to say in September, we’re rounding around, we didn’t get our whole team on the field. We didn’t play and they played like that. And they won and lost at one point with Indianapolis and Pittsburgh games that were sloppier. I’ve seen the full complement of players now in the middle of the season, allegedly healthy and I think there’s still some questions about some of the guys Humphrey being one of them as to whether they’re fully healthy from a tackling standpoint from staying healthy the next 10 weeks. I know they’re going to be more injuries like there’s there’s No doubt that they’re going to play a lot of games without the personnel they out on the field Sunday. They put it all together and got everybody on the plane for that. I feel good. We haven’t had any knock on wood. You know, catastrophic, weird things. I’ve written two championship books, both of them really. In the end, we’re about healthy. To have Stanley, they have Humphrey they have ro Quan, Dan Patrick, queen, they have Kyle Hamilton. They have good players. It’s nice that the Arthur mullets take a piece, it’s nice that Michael Pierce can dominate the line of scrimmage against kind of a bad offensive line. I mean, you know, and a backup quarterback who didn’t run for his life, I thought his best chance of winning the game would have been the run a little bit more. But the full complement of the teams on the they have everybody pretty much. I want to see that look more like last week, that’s all and I know the West Coast gives, I had to give him a pass on just just as a West Coast game against the one and 16 in a sleepy old dome. I didn’t expect a walkover I didn’t. But I just expected a little bit more crisp performance from the offense. And a little bit more of Oh, Lamar has got all his weapons. He’s got his protection. You know, they’re running real practices now not London, and they’re winning football games, and they look like they did last week. I don’t expect them to turn it on and turn it off. I don’t think they’re good enough for that. I think there’s a lot of hard work that needs to be done here. And I think running the football, still is there still another defensive coordinator over there doing what Arizona did, which is we’re gonna rush through and roll eight back and see if Lamar can really throw the ball well, or whether he’s just gonna run? Well, it’s always convenient
Luke Jones 16:39
to point that out and use that when they don’t throw as well. But they threw the ball really well, the week before. I hear what you’re saying. I don’t disagree. I think, for me, it’s not even that, okay, they didn’t win. They didn’t win 38 to six, you know, they didn’t win 41 to three, that’s fine. Well, again, it’s the NFL, right? I mean, look at some of the teams that we had been viewing as the absolute best in the NFL 234 weeks ago, and look where they are now. I mean, look at San Francisco, for example. We’re where we viewed them to be at the beginning of October compared to where they are at the end of October now going into the month of November. So it’s a weird league in that way. You know, we use that week to week term all the time, yet our analysis. And I don’t mean when I say our I don’t mean you and me I mean in general, how national media, local media, whatever it might be. The analysis is that way to week ago, everyone was starting to hope that the Ravens were this unstoppable offense. And well, they looked pretty stoppable on Sunday for most of the games.
Nestor Aparicio 17:39
So sometimes they stopped themselves. And that’s a big problem. Yeah, and
Luke Jones 17:41
I’m with you, as far as the thing that concerns me. And again, I use the term concern, relatively speaking, because there wasn’t a ton about this game that I’m alarmed over again, it was more weird than anything else. But I did want to see the offense stack a little bit more, build a little bit more on what they did a week ago. And we really didn’t see that. And the reality is, let’s be clear. This Arizona team and look, I give them credit that, you know, they they fought back in the fourth quarter, they made it a game they got to the point where they’re kicking on sidekicks. But that’s a really bad football team. And statistically, where’s their pro bowler who’s their best player? I mean, it’s, some of their best players are on the sideline right now injured. So so we’re looking at that. So I wanted to see the offense build a little bit more. And that doesn’t mean I expected them to score four touchdowns on their first four drives like they did a week ago. But I did want to see a little more explosiveness a little more consistency. You made the point about the passing game versus the running game. I mean, reality is their passing game needs to be more consistent if they’re going to make a deep January run. And also Yes, their running game needs to be more consistent if they want to win three or four games in a row come January.
Nestor Aparicio 18:52
Well, I think it’s all about the running game, bro, because the passing game ain’t gonna hold up for them. If they’re going to try to pass if they fall behind by 13 points in Buffalo on January 13. They’re gonna lose they like they need to run the ball. They need to run the ball. That’s why this whole offseason of ODell and Bateman and we’re gonna throw for 6000 How about you just having just run the ball well, and be in second into in second three and be in second and manageable? And they will win
Luke Jones 19:19
Super Bowls that way? You don’t win Super Bowls that way. I mean, you can keep saying that. You know, we’ve we’ve we’ve said we’ve had the same conversation for four years now you don’t win Super Bowls that way. First of all, they are better throwing the ball that you give them credit for specifically Lamar Jackson is way better throwing the ball than you give him credit for.
Nestor Aparicio 19:35
They just don’t throw a lot.
Luke Jones 19:37
That’s not the same thing. I I continue this. We have the same conversation all the time. I mean, it’s an efficiency issue. It’s an efficiency issue and but they’re they’re more efficient than you give them credit for is my point and Lamar has been more efficient than you give him credit for. But that said Do I think that their passing game is at the level that it needs to be Right now, for them to make the kind of run in January that there is no it’s not. And that’s why they need to continue to improve in that way. And I’m going to disagree with just saying they just need to run the ball. No. If that were the case, they would have never fired Greg Roman. And if that that were the case, they would have continued to be 14 and two, we each have the last three, four years, but we saw to see
Nestor Aparicio 20:19
don’t run the ball, the rest of it goes to hell in a handbasket. And it’s not nearly what it could be. And I saw it last week in the 2019 version of, you know, pushing the pile on first down and winding up in second and three, that they can’t be in second and 11 they can’t be in second and eighth, nine second and 10 trying to throw on first down and the ball sales or some somebody drops it second intense a bad down for them. It really is.
Luke Jones 20:51
Have they run the ball so consistently that they haven’t been in Second and nine have a good number of times running the ball.
Nestor Aparicio 20:57
It’s they’re not running the ball well enough. I guess that’s my point. Sure.
Luke Jones 21:01
They need to they need to be better. And both the point it I think, you know, we’re, we’re debating this and arguing about this. And I think we’re still coming from a similar place. The offensive needs to be more consistent. We’ve seen it look great. For throughout the Detroit game, obviously, we’ve seen it look really good for other stretches. I mean, you go back and look at how they played in Cincinnati. Go back the second half of the Houston game. Certainly you know that you look at how they played in the second quarter in Cleveland. That’s how you want it to look. But yeah, it needs to be more complete. It needs to be more consistent. And I think that for me, if there’s something I was disappointed about, it’s not the weirdness of the fourth quarter really, it was the offense against a really bad defense, you know, a defense that couldn’t stop the past or the run. And they didn’t really look like that for most of Sunday’s games. So you credit Arizona I mean, they they competed, you know, I don’t want to completely be dismissive of them at the same time. Let’s not, let’s not gas up a one in seven football team that they played, you know, so it is what it is they went up against a bad team a bad defense, and their offense certainly did not match what they did against Detroit, which was a really good defense on paper. So it is the NFL, it is a league in which you’re chasing consistency. It is a league that you can even look great as Buffalo did, in what weeks 234. And then we’ve seen how the bills have played since then. You know, it’s fleeting, yeah. This idea of building to being the best team that you can be. It’s not linear. You know, you have ups and downs, you have performances that you’re impressed by and performances that you’re concerned by. I don’t think Sunday really fell into that latter category that much other than I would have liked to have seen the offense build a little bit better off what they did the previous week, in going out there and playing a team that let’s face it, again, was a nice story. The first few weeks, they had their big upset win over the Cowboys in week three, but it’s not a Cardinals team that had looked very impressive at all since then. The defense through 50 minutes. They look like the Ravens defense right we
Nestor Aparicio 23:16
all think the Cowboys are going to the Super Bowl they actually lost it these guys.
Luke Jones 23:20
Sure, sure. And again, look at Buffalo and Kansas City. I mean look at Kansas City scored nine points against the Denver defense that a few weeks ago gave up what 70 to Miami. I mean, it’s you know, it’s crazy. The league’s weird you know,
Nestor Aparicio 23:32
I went eight six and one against the spread before Monday night and there’s no buys this week. And I looked up I’m like, what are the ones I lost it? How did I lose picking Pittsburgh? How did I lose picking Kansas City? I mean, how did I buy in on some of these teams? You know, how did I buy in on buffalo? You know what I mean? Lucas here we’re gonna continue on about the GUS boss and Ro Quan Smith and the defense and Mike McDonald and and obviously the Seattle Seahawks, who look pretty sharp and there’s Jim Zorn Steve Largent, Chris Warren throwbacks as well. We have the trading deadline Eric Costas scoring row Quan Smith this time last year, lots of things to discuss Marilyn crabcake tours back on the road next week. It’s all brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery. I got my Raven scratch offs here and the lucky batch our friends at window nation 866 90 nation buy to get to free 0% financing for five years now. 866 19 as you go find them and our friends at Jiffy Lube MultiCare right around the corner fixed our oil last week and fixed yours this week. There’s one right you don’t have to go to Merritt Boulevard. There’s Jiffy Lube Baltic here’s everywhere. That’s my location because I’m a dog guy. Lots to discuss this week, including me taking a couple days off last week and flying away to see you too and trying to have a little bit of fun and and visiting my mother’s life in South Carolina. So if you’re following me on South Korea and on social media to South Carolina over the weekend, yes, I gained weight last week. I am Nesta we are wn st am 1570 Towson Baltimore Moorhead on ravens football with Luke and I stay with us on Baltimore positive