Through two weeks, we've seen two drastically different Ravens teams.
Week 1 against Pittsburgh (a team that made the Super Bowl last year), the Ravens put up 35 points, moved the ball effectively and in big chunks, put tons of pressure on the opposing quarterback, covered well on the back end and forced seven turnovers.
Week 2 against the Titans (a rebuilding team which won only six games last year), the Ravens put up just 13 points, had trouble putting together any type of offensive momentum, got very little pressure on the opposing quarterback, provided poor coverage in the secondary, and forced just one turnover.
Those two contests have left everyone across the NFL landscape confused. Why the two completely contrasting efforts? Which performance is indicative of what we'll see from the Ravens the rest of the season?
Combine the two, and that's what the Ravens are at this point, says head coach John Harbaugh.
"Both of those games are ours," Harbaugh said. "That's who we are. We build off both of those games. So, we take whatever we learn and we take it to St. Louis, and we try to become a better football team.
"Our guys take responsibility, both coaches and players. We all take responsibility. It's our performance. The same performance we took responsibility for against Pittsburgh, we take responsibility for against Tennessee.
Harbaugh stood up in front of reporters yesterday for nearly 20 minutes, answering questions of a much different tone than the ones he faced just a week earlier. Despite the letdown performance, Harbaugh and his players refuse to point fingers or assign blame; instead they say they're ready to learn from the loss and move on.
Given the Ravens' previous ability to stay focused against teams with losing records (going into Sunday, they were 18-1 in Harbaugh's tenure against sub-.500 teams) and coming off that dominant Week 1 win over the Steelers, most fans and media members had assumed that the Ravens would be able to roll through the Titans and move to 2-0 on the season.
Thus, to many of us, the 26-13 loss in Tennessee came as a surprise. But Harbaugh doesn't look at the defeat that way.
"Every week is a different week. So, it's not perplexing," Harbaugh said. "There's nothing perplexing about it. We just didn't play well enough to win in critical situations. We didn't block the run game well enough. We didn't complete passes that we should have completed. We didn't keep the chains moving, you know? We didn't score touchdowns in the red zone. Similarly, on defense, we couldn't get off the field, and as the game wore on, that got to be even more of a factor.
"So, it's not perplexing. It's disappointing, no doubt about it, but that's how football is in this league. We're working for the point where we can roll out there every single week and just roll over opponents. But, we're not there yet. We're trying to get there, but we're not there yet."
The Ravens weren't going to go out and crush teams 35-7 every single week. Just wasn't going to happen. Similarly, they won't be outplayed on both sides of the ball every week like they were against the Titans.
Their 2011 final product will be based on what middle ground they're able to find on a weekly basis and how they bounce back from poor efforts like Sunday's. That's where we'll truly see what this team is capable of.