The calendar says that it’s only been a couple of months since the Ravens’ season started. And the numbers say that we’re halfway through, with eight games down and eight more to play.
But if ever a team or, for that matter, a fanbase, needed a breather, it’s the one the Ravens are in the midst of.
Between last Thursday’s contest against Miami and the November 19 match with Green Bay, a 24-day span -- the Ravens will play just one game during that time.
It’s a decided quirk in the schedule, a few extra days after a Thursday night stand, followed by a week off after next Sunday’s game with Tennessee.
The Ravens, and especially their depleted receiving corps and their concussed quarterback, Joe Flacco, desperately require some down time and a chance to get some of their wounds healed.
And the fans are in equally desperate need of some time to reflect on what they’ve seen and to prepare for what could be coming.
The Ravens’ 4-4 record through the first eight games suggest mediocrity, but that’s if you look at the numbers only.
The team’s 2017 story has given Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a run for its money.
After two wins to start the season, the Ravens have gone all over the map, looking awful in London with a lopsided loss to Jacksonville, then handing the Oakland Raiders a crushing defeat on the West Coast.
Their inconsistency includes home losses to Pittsburgh and Chicago, the latter of which was inexplicable. Last Sunday’s exercise in futility in Minnesota was so dreadful that the team didn’t score a touchdown until the game’s final play.
That set the stage for Thursday’s game with the Dolphins, a team that came into the contest with a 4-2 record.
Despite 113 rushing yards from second year running back Alex Collins, the Ravens offense was no great shakes, a common complaint this season.
Yes, the Ravens scored a 40—0 win, the biggest shutout victory in team history, but if not for a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second half, the haplessness of the Baltimore offense would have been a major talking point.
As it was, the focus of attention was Flacco’s concussion, which came in the second quarter, when a Miami defender hit the quarterback as Flacco was sliding at the end of an attempt to get a first down.
Flacco’s health will likely be a point of concern the rest of the season. He was immediately placed in a protocol and will be evaluated by medical personnel who will decide when he is cleared to play.
Longtime listeners know that Joe Flacco is not the quarterback of choice for this space. And the Ravens should seriously consider taking a quarterback in what appears to be a rather promising draft next spring.
But it also is true that the Ravens as presently constituted will go nowhere this season without a healthy Joe Flacco.
If the team can win three of their next five games – all against opponents who are at or above .500, they’d have a solid chance to reach the playoffs, an interesting place for either Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.
And that’s how I see it for this week.