By Timothy Klapac, Columnist
There were very few words, but expressions aplenty among the purple and black-clad fans at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grill in Hunt Valley as the clock slowly ticked down to zero in the Baltimore Ravens loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 4.
Faces were buried in palms. Many couldn’t decide what to do with their hands while others simply stared into their phones, hoping to find an escape from Baltimore’s three-game losing streak that dropped the team to a 4-5 record heading into the bye week.
Most of the criticism has been directed toward the play of quarterback Joe Flacco, who has averaged 234.7 passing yards per game over the last three games, less than 60 yards per game than his average through the first six games. Calls for backup quarterback Lamar Jackson to be named the new starter have grown louder since reports of Flacco’s injured hip may lead him to miss the team’s week 11 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Ravens defense has also contributed to this losing streak. After recording a franchise-record 11 sacks in the week six victory over Tennessee, the Ravens defense has recorded two sacks and forced one turnover in the last three games. The defense is the foundation of this team, allowing 7.8 points per game in their four wins, but 25.8 points per game in their five losses.
Despite the offensive and defensive struggles, the problem with the Ravens goes much higher up the ladder than that. The instability in the organization has been the catalyst for the inconsistent performances this season. General manager Ozzie Newsome, who has been in Baltimore since the team’s arrival in 1996, announced this would be his last season. Head Coach John Harbaugh has had questions surrounding his job security, despite receiving a contract extension last year. Flacco is in the final year of his contract, which has been criticized since he signed it after the 2012 season.
Without a clear future laid out for the front office, coaching staff and players, it’s hard for fans to feel confident in their team’s chances to end the longest playoff drought in franchise history. With four of their final seven games against teams with a .500 or better record, the outlook is bleak for Baltimore.