MIS-FIRES: As fans gnash their teeth for two weeks the Ravens have to tear apart the first part of the season and figure out what can be done to right the ship for the final run. They have dug a hole and will have to scrap and claw their way through the last nine games to make a push at the Playoffs. Fans do not have an inside view of the Team so we can only guess at why this team is looking like it has a malaise that may knock it out of the playoff run sooner rather than later.
 1. Injuries: Let's get this one out of the way first, since it is the weakest point. Every team has some injuries and that does not spell doom automatically. It does influence the parts that were to be in place, and depending on when it happens, it can put players who have not had reps into the fire-fight. It also moves second-tier players to first string and lesser players into ST roles. Obviously the Pitta injury was a big one; since that was to fill the Boldin hole. Trawick's hit on Jones in the first game shook up the team on Offense and ST. Several defensive players have been hurting; especially in the line. KO appears to have an ailing back and Yanda appears not to be fully back from his surgery. Stokley has been limping along for the last few weeks. The personnel that would have to fill in for the injured players does not seem to be good enough; at least at this time. 
 2. Failed Personnel: It is always difficult to hit a HR on players that are drafted or signed as FA's. The problem comes when the team expects to get something from someone and their performance creates a hole because they cannot even give an average performance. The Huff signing is very perplexing since he does not appear to be able to" Play like a Raven"; he is not very good mentally and does not appear to be able (or willing) to tackle. On Sunday, he was part of the mess on ST that allowed the late TD on the KO (that was called back). He was signed to fill a gap in the secondary and has come up empty. McKinnie was re-signed, despite the knowledge that he gave no effort (except on a Party Bus). Now he is gone because he was not putting out a solid performance to protect Flacco's blind-side and open holes in the running game. Surprised? And that failure caused the team to do something that they do not normally do - give away draft picks for Monroe. Jeromy Miles was signed as a ST player and yet he was off-sides on the on-sides kick. And Asa Jackson was to be a help on the defense and probably ST, but he gets suspended for eight games.
 3. Coaching: A well-respected O-Line Coach is brought in to re-do the schemes for the O-Line. As is obvious now, this team does not have the personnel to make that work and trying to teach a turkey to fly is an accident waiting to happen. Why was that necessary in the first place? Is the new wave in the NFL to have Lean-and-Athletic O-Lineman rather than Maulers? Is that a shift because of the focus on passing in the league? If so, I am not sure how you can transition that scheme unless you are willing to blow up the Line to get the proper personnel in place. I do not think it is the thing to do if your goal is to make the playoffs. Tweaking a team is what to do when you have the chance to compete; throwing out the old ways is what you do in a "rebuilding" year.

 IMHO, there is a cultural change that is in the works as well. I see a change from players that are the focus to a "Patriots-like" model that the Coach is the driving force. That view says that you get Average/Above-average players that you can dump at will rather than "Bigger than Life" Players that influence how things are handled (and can lead to the inmates running the asylum). It also allows you to make moves without big Cap Hits. Big player personalities can help if they know the boundaries; but there is always the risk that the dog will bite. Altering the culture in the locker room is a very tricky thing to do since it can lead to a team that does not have the peer pressure that can make players do things to succeed. I really thought that bringing in veterans who had the desire for a ring would help; but so far that has not pushed the envelope. 

 We will see how Harbaugh reviews the roster and the coaching and whether he makes big moves or just tweaks things. I think that this is a big moment in this transition year. As much as he can take control, he can also lose the team. It is a delicate balance.

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