As he does each week after a Ravens game, Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston fields your fan questions about the team.
Eric in Jacksonville: Mike, this question sums it all up for Ravens fans: What the hell?
Mike Preston: I feel your pain, my brother. My only consolation is that I got paid to watch that performance turned in by the Ravens.
It was not fun to watch. Raking leaves might have been more exciting.
Alicia K.: Why does a team built to run the ball go on the road against a pathetic Seahawks team and attempt 50-plus passes? Is Cam Cameron an offensive guru who was trying to outsmart a marginal team or is he just offensive? Thanks.
Alicia, if they took a survey of the Ravens players, most of them would agree that what John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron did Sunday by tossing the ball around the park more than 50 times was inexcusable, unpardonable and unforgivable. I assume that if the Ravens don't go far in the playoffs, there will be severe repercussions for the offensive shortcomings, and a lot of fingers will be pointed at this game. This game was never out of hand for the Ravens, and there was no reason for them to abandon the run so early.
You know it. I know it. The players know it. In hindsight, Harbaugh and Cameron know it.
Zaineb: I know that the blame certainly has to go around for yesterday's loss. But at some point, can we say that if David Reed didn't fumble TWICE and give them those 6 points then we win the game? Does Harbaugh make the right move allowing him back in the game after that? Should we expect to see him in uniform this Sunday?
No, we just can't say that if Reed didn't fumble twice the Ravens would have won. It's not that simple. The play calling was poor. The team's best offensive ball player carried the ball only five times. The Ravens dropped a lot of passes. The Ravens defensive line got physically whipped. Seattle exposed the team's weakness as far as linebackers who can cover.
Hold up for a second. Let me catch my breath...
The Ravens gave up a lot of big plays in the first half. The quarterback had an off day. The Ravens missed two field goals. The Ravens committed stupid penalties.
Now, for Reed, put him back there and give him another chance. If he stinks again, say goodbye and call him a cab.
Tom Collins: Mike, what exactly is it about the 4-3 defense that gives the Ravens so much trouble and why does it seem to be so hard for the coaching staff to figure out how to score against it? What should they be doing differently? How much of a role did the 4-3 play in the loss to the Seahawks?
To borrow Ray Lewis' favorite line, the bottom line is that the Ravens can't run against it. It's not just one thing for the failures, but a couple. The teams the Ravens have played this season have good defensive linemen, which is one of the reasons you run a 4-3 over a 3-4. The Ravens have an average offensive line, and at times just can't handle the match-ups. The Ravens have also struggled getting to the other team's middle linebacker and cutting off his pursuit. I think, because the Ravens struggle running the ball against the 4-3, when they fall behind, they panic and start throwing the ball all over the place.
Against Seattle, the Ravens abandoned the running game by the second quarter, and then it was bombs away. It will be interesting to see how the Ravens play Sunday against the Bengals, who also play a 4-3. The Bengals have an athletic front four and they always do a good job of taking running back Ray Rice out of the offense. They play two-deep coverage, and that has been a pain for Flacco. I suspect that the Ravens won't get away from the run so early this week because they blew it in Seattle.
Ron from Owings Mills: Why doesn't Harbaugh understand the importance of winning the field position battle in games? The Ravens were always in poor field position starting offensive drives, while the Seahawks started most of their drives in favorable position.
As a former special teams coach, I'm sure Harbaugh understands the importance of field position. The Ravens averaged only 7.5 yards on four punt returns and they lost two kickoffs because of fumbles. They also missed two field goals of 50 and 52 yards, which gave Seattle good field position. Ravens place kicker Billy Cundiff has been reliable, so I have no problems with Harbaugh allowing him to attempt the two long field goals. Overall, it just wasn't the Ravens' day.
Lamont: What happened to Jimmy Smith? Is he in the doghouse or just way down the roster? Thought he would at least play the nickle with Chris Carr struggling so badly. Do you think he would have done a better job of covering their tight ends and why does it seem that the Ravens’ coaching staff isn’t using its most physical corner?
The Ravens starting cornerbacks of Lardarius Webb abd Cary Williams have played well, so there was no use in rushing Smith back. Seattle exposed the Ravens' coverage underneath, and I assume there might be a way for defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to get Smith on the field in passing situations as far the dime package. If he replaced Carr in the nickel, I wouldn't have a problem with that, either. One way or another, they have to get their top draft pick from last April back on the field. He has too much talent to waste sitting on the bench.
ChrisPW: Why are the Ravens getting so little pressure on the quarterback the last few weeks? In the Seahawks game, Tavaris Jackson had all day to sit in the pocket. Is Haloti Ngata hurt?
No, he is just getting blocked. Other teams now have tape on Pagano, and they might be catching on to a few of his new stunts and different packages. In the Seattle game, you just can't point to one thing like pass rushing as the problem. The Ravens' loss to Seattle was a team effort. Every group contributed.
Zane in Havre de Grace: Is it me or does Ed Reed not want to make a tackle? He's always missing! Could this be his last year?
Zane, you noticed. It's not that Reed doesn't want to make a tackle, he just doesn't want to re-injure his neck. If I were Reed, I wouldn't even be playing, because he is risking serious injury every time he steps on the field. Reed, though, has made several major tackles for the Ravens that prevented touchdowns this season. The Ravens know that he can't be as physical as he was when he first came into the league, but that's the trade off for the other things he brings to the table as far as leadership and big play ability.
Reed is a strange guy and moody, but he does have a big heart. I'll never question his ability or desire to play hard once he steps on the field on game day.
Will S.: Does Steve Biscotti attend all of the away games? And, does he go down to the locker room after the game? If he did in Seattle, did you observe his demeanor and did he say anything to the players or coaching staff?
There are very few times that Bisciotti goes into the locker room after a game, and that's a good thing. Most owners don't. But if he did after the Seattle game, I imagine his first words to the Ravens would have been: "What the hell?"
AB in Chi: In leading up to each of the Ravens' three letdown losses this season, the team has done lots of talking about how much they respect their upcoming underdog opponent and how no one out there should underestimate Tennessee/Jacksonville/Seattle and all the talent each of those teams is stacked with. It seems we hear much less of that stand-up professionalism going into bigger games where the team rides on the emotion and adrenaline of the more charged matchups, i.e. Pittsburgh/Jets/Houston, which feel like contests with more at stake. How can this team get motivated? We've seen Harbaugh and his staff evolve and improve aspects of their game-planning and execution over the last three and a half years. What do Harbaugh & Co. need to do next to help this team feel the crisis they're creating?
Apparently, Harbaugh was annoyed with similar questions at his press conference Monday.
"The story of the season is going to be written at the end," Harbaugh said. "I'm not writing that story now. ... I'd like to give you an answer, but I'm not really interested, to be honest with you."
Translation: He doesn't know what the problem is. If he did, the Ravens wouldn't have lost three games to lesser opponents on the road.
I'm not sure there is any clear cut answer. Whenever you lose or have a losing streak, all you can do is keep your head down, work hard and keep grinding. There is no magic solution. It's hard work overcomes a lot of obstacles. The Ravens have had success on the road in previous years, so maybe they need to go back and look over how they prepared for a game. The Ravens also have a lot of new faces on the roster, and that might be part of the problem. Certainly, veterans like Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg and Derrick Mason had no problems playing well on the road.