Joe, tonight is an important night for you.
Yes, it’s against the 0-9 Cleveland Browns. No, it’s not the most important game of your career. But all the eyes in those purple seats and the ones at home are on you tonight. So many Ravens fans, and even fans of other teams, have stood by your side when the media throws the word ‘elite’ around. You are undoubtedly the greatest Quarterback the Baltimore Ravens franchise has ever had the privilege of starting. And yet, all eyes are on you tonight.
Even I, as one of your biggest supporters, is waking up to the reality you have not been the Super Bowl MVP we hoped to see post 2012, and this season is sadly showing it. Yes, your offensive line has been constantly injured. But all of us fans who know you too well know you wouldn’t make excuses for the way you’ve been playing. You own up to your play whenever questioned about it and never throw your teammates under the bus. That’s something all of us can respect.
But tonight you need to show everybody, not just Ravens fans, you are still that Quarterback from 2012. We are entering the second half of the year tonight. Through the first half, you’ve thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (6). You’ve already been sacked more times (18) this year than last year (16). You’re 4th in the league in pass attempts, but 13th in yards and tied for 29th in touchdowns with Brian Hoyer.
To put that into even worse perspective, that means Quarterbacks such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian, Alex Smith, Brock Osweiler, and Sam Bradford, have all thrown more touchdowns than you. And to top it all off, you’re 31st in Passer Rating among Quarterbacks with 100+ passing attempts.
Not a pretty picture is it?
The only team you have faced that is top 10 in pass defense this year is the Jacksonville Jaguars (5th). A game in which you managed to throw for 214 yards with 2 interceptions. Every other pass defense you have faced this year: Bills (13th), Browns (23rd), Raiders (28th), Redskins (15th), Giants (25th), Jets (22nd), and Steelers (24th).
After tonight’s game against Cleveland, you have two games against pass defenses in the top 10 (Dolphins – 8th, Eagles – 6th). Luckily, both of those games are in Baltimore. The rest of your schedule contains teams in the bottom half of the league in pass defense.
In week two, you led the Ravens offense to 25 unanswered points to beat the Browns. You threw for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns along with 2 interceptions. That week was also the only one on the year which you were not sacked. Now, it’d be reasonable to expect another week two performance tonight since it’s against the same team, and you’re home. But you have thrown for 300 yards only one other time this season in which you went touchdown-less against the Giants.
Your team is in an ugly dog fight for first place in the worst division in football this year. The Defense has produced. The Special Teams have produced. But the one thing on this 4-4 Ravens team that has not produced is your offense. When you succeed, your offense succeeds. Your offense can only do so much when you do so little.
This is the night to turn your season around. Take the Ravens on a two game winning streak into Dallas on a long week’s rest and carry your team to another division title. This game tonight is crucial heading into the second half of the season. Despite it being the Browns, any AFC North team fan knows the Browns don’t go down easily in divisional play. It’s a trendsetter.
You are on national television tonight, Joe. This isn’t a regional televised game where only Ravens fans endure another weekly heart attack. Millions are going to be watching your 27th ranked offense vs their 31st ranked defense. Any performance under 300 yards and 2 touchdowns tonight will be a disappointment even if the Ravens get a win.
The excuses are over, Joe. It’s time to get it in gear and unload tonight. Otherwise, the Ravens won’t be going to the playoffs this year. The Defense is ranked 2nd in the league, yes. But it’s not the defense from 2000. They won’t carry you to a Super Bowl. They will definitely help you, but this team will only go as far you take them.
That’s how it’s always been.