There were many analysts and prognosticators that picked the Baltimore Ravens to advance to the Super Bowl. Many people (myself included) said the Ravens had one of the top five most talented rosters in the NFL. Things have not gone the way anyone expected this season, to say the least.
The Ravens have a losing record and hold a very slim chance of making it to the post season. The season has been a disaster. The Ravens have a losing record at home and stumbled to a 0-3 start for the first time in franchise history.
This season was supposed to be one in which the Ravens celebrated their 20th season by adding another winning season to the team’s history. The Ravens inducted Ed Reed into the Ring of Honor recently. It was a nice touch, honoring number 20 to commemorate the franchise’s 20th season.
Rookie wide receiver and first round pick Breshad Perriman was placed on injured reserve before he saw a single snap with full gear on. Perriman joined Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith Sr. on injured reserve.
To make matters worse, Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett were both lost for the season during the Ravens game against the St. Louis Rams. The Ravens continue to employ the next man up mentality, even with after they lost Flacco, a player that has never missed a game in his career. All in all, the Ravens have lost a total of 14 players for the entire season.
The players on the team expressed confidence in Buck Allen and Matt Schaub, the players that will be called upon to step in for Forsett and Flacco.
“It was devastating. They are two great leaders on offense. I’m definitely going to pray for them, but, at the same time, we’ve got capable guys behind them. Matt Schaub is a veteran in this league,” Brandon Williams said. “He’s got a cannon for his arm and still has a lot of life left, and he’s going to execute the best he can. We support him 100 percent. And you’ve seen what Buck Allen can do all season.”
John Harbaugh was sure to mention how Flacco put the team ahead of himself and did what he could to finish the series despite what is said to be multiple ligament tears in his knee.
“He finished the whole series with two completely torn ligaments and stayed on the field with the clock running, because he knew if he comes off, now we have clock issues,” Harbaugh said. “I told the team he’s an absolute iron man, warrior-type of a player out there, and now it’s his turn. We have to step up and rally up for him, just like he has done so many times for so many guys.”
There’s usually a lot of finger pointing and bickering whenever such high expectations are followed by the level of disappointment that 2015 has brought. It’s easy to point fingers, but that’s not what this team is about. Justin Forsett has kept a positive mindset despite the team not committing to the run and giving him the necessary carries to be successful.
“We’ll go out and prepare hard during the week. I’m just blessed to be with this team. I’ve been on other teams where we’ve been in this situation,” Forsett said. “It’s easy to point fingers and guys kind of separate. But we’ve been together; we’ve been fighting together and trying to get better each week.”
It’s a shame that Forsett broke his forearm in a game where the Ravens actually did commit to running the football. Buck Allen said that he has learned a lot from Forsett and knows he’ll be able to lean on the veteran for help.
The team is closely knit, just like a family. When Steve Smith Sr. went down with an Achilles injury, almost every player stopped by his locker to offer their support. They said they will play the coming games hard just because they know how much he loved the game and can’t play this season. That’s a testament to how close this team is.
Elvis Dumervil was called for a penalty that put the Jacksonville Jaguars in position to kick the game winning field goal. Dumervil was down on himself because he felt that he cost the team the game. His teammates came out publicly and said the game should not have come down to the penalty and there were numerous plays that could have determined the outcome.
That’s how a team that sticks together responds after losing a game the way the Ravens lost to the Jaguars. They still have fun at practice and attack each week with optimism. Joe Flacco talked about staying together as a group after he and Justin Forsett joked about their height difference before a press conference.
“I have no idea what our record is going to be at the end of the day, but we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to give our best every single week. We have a great group, and we’re going to stay together,” Flacco said. “We’re going to come out of this thing on the other side together. That’s the only way we know, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re here to work. We love to do this, and we’re having fun out here, that’s what it’s all about. Obviously, we’d like to tack on some wins with that.”
When John Harbaugh was first named head coach of the Ravens, he said that taking care of one another and sticking together was of utmost importance. That philosophy held true when the Ravens won the Super Bowl for Ray Lewis in his final season and it surely holds true in the worst season the team has had under Harbaugh.
The Ravens are sticking together and there are zero arguments or disagreements on the sidelines. They still go out and fight to win every game. They play the game for each other, along with those that can’t suit up due to injury. Not once have they adapted to the “why me” mentality. It’s the sign of a true family and that is a testament to the leader that the Ravens have in John Harbaugh.