What Is Wrong with the 2020 Baltimore Ravens?

The Baltimore Ravens have many issues to correct if they want to turn around their season and potentially make the playoffs.


Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 17, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) talks to wide receiver Marquise Brown (15) prior to their game against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After going 14-2 last season, the 2020 Baltimore Ravens have been humbled in many ways and find themselves 3rd in the AFC North (at 6-5) behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (currently undefeated at 11-0) and the Cleveland Browns (at 9-3). The Tennessee Titans bounced the Ravens out of the playoffs in the Wildcard game last year, but now they will have to potentially win out to get to the Wildcard this year.

While not looking like the best team, the Steelers are the best team record-wise in the NFL and look to make history. The Cleveland Browns finally secured the first winning record in over a decade. The Ravens are out looking into the playoff picture and will need to take advantage of a relatively easy schedule, facing four losing record teams out of the five games they have left. While they should not take any game lightly, the Ravens rematch with the Browns in primetime should be one to watch in Week 13.

While many factors lead to the Ravens record, the COVID pandemic has impacted their roster the most out of all the NFL teams (with over 20 players, including starters on the COVID list before a game day at one time). The COVID protocols include practices canceled and facilities closed for a few days before game day, practice squad players being elevated last minute, and quarantining potential contacts with infected players/position groups while testing daily.

A strength and conditioning coach was suspended last week for not always wearing the contact tracer and a mask during on-site practices. For 10 days straight, there was at least one positive test from a Ravens staff or player, and it got to the point where they had to delay their game with the Steelers twice in the same week.

With protocols potentially not being followed during practices at the facilities, I would imagine potential fines being given or a draft pick being taken away, as there were at least “four unique strains of COVID” found in Owning Mills, Maryland’s practice facility. Teams like the Titans, the Saints, and the Raiders have had similar consequences to not abiding by the COVID rules the league set out. This is the statement that was put out last week by the Ravens team president, as they set to play the Cowboys on Tuesday (the game was delayed by a day due to the outbreak last week).

The season is definitely not over, as starting quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is set to come off the COVID list with backup quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Trace McSorley, starting in the Steelers game last week. Players are becoming more healthy coming off the COVID list, as the Ravens have not had a positive test for COVID from a player or staff member since the Steelers game. However, this did show the lack of depth they have at certain positions and the importance of certain starters, as the drop off of play was quite noticeable due to the circumstances.

With key injuries, like offensive tackle, Ronnie Stanley (out for the year), and defensive lineman, Calais Campbell (hopefully coming back in a week or two), the Ravens have had to adjust to some of their new weaknesses like any other team. The loss of tight end, Nick Boyle, is a crucial loss for the offense, as the Ravens usually feature multiple tight ends in their run-heavy game plan.

Another issue is some of the rookie starters that expected to take on big roles, like their linebacker, Patrick Queen, have struggled in critical moments late in games. That just comes with youth development, and hopefully, with experience, he can learn and grow from his mistakes early on. Their defensive woes are not all on him, as he has shown flashes as a rookie starter, but overall, their defense has worn down quite easily in games.

The bigger issue, however, is the lack of adjustments from the defense late in games (by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale) and the missing connection in the passing game along with predictable offensive playcalling.

While the Ravens do not have game-breaking weapons at wide receiver, one player that has not lived up to expectations so far is Marquise Brown, aka “Hollywood.” Jackson missed him quite a few times early on for big plays, but there have been times that Hollywood dropped the ball when the pass was on target or he struggled against the better cornerbacks in the league. Hollywood expressed his frustrations for the lack of targets on Twitter early last month, which was quickly deleted, and despite being fully healthy compared to last year, overall, he has not shown up as the deep threat Ravens fans saw last year (when he was not fully healthy coming off foot/ankle injuries as a rookie).

While the playcalling (by offensive coordinator Greg Roman) has to be much better in scheming up targets for him and utilizing him in different ways, Hollywood was expected to have a breakout year among the other wide receivers for the Ravens. However, in the loss against the Steelers, Hollywood showed why he could be an elite deep threat, torching the Steelers secondary for 6 late in the game (something he has not done all year). Now, with Jackson back, he could be right on track to turn around his season as well as the offense as a whole.

Even the run game has struggled at times for the Ravens, and it just seems like they have not been in sync this year as a whole. Whether that is mostly on Roman for the stale playcalling or the players not executing, something has to change – and fast. The defense does have to clean up their bad play and adjust, but I expect more from the offense, as it was lights out for most of last year.

If the Ravens want to find their way to the playoffs again, the offense has no choice but to click in the last stretch of games.