Coming off his worst defeat in his four-plus seasons as the Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh was more candid during his Monday press conference than usual.
The loss wasn’t pretty for the Ravens, who were on the short end of a 30-point beating at the hands of the Houston Texans.
Harbaugh said afterwards that the fingers should be pointed at him.
“We didn’t put our players in a great position to win that game,” Harbaugh said.
“We obviously weren’t ready to handle their scheme, their intensity, the crowd. All the things we were up against in that game, we did not do a good job with, and I take full responsibility for that.”
The Ravens offense has been unbalanced in terms of their performance at home versus on the road. At home, the offense has scored 13 touchdowns in four games, whereas they’ve only scored three touchdowns in three contests on the road.
On the first drive of the game, the Ravens picked up three of their four total first-half first downs – two of which came on the ground. Ray Rice had three carries for 27 yards (9 YPC) before the Ravens seemingly abandoned the running game.
Harbaugh noted that once Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph returned a tipped pass by J.J. Watt for a touchdown, the coaches thought it was time to try to get back into the game more quickly (i.e., by throwing).
“We probably all say we could have been a little more patient with the run- whether it’s Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce or whoever it is,” Harbaugh said.
“We want to get the ball in all of our playmakers’ hands. We probably didn’t do that like we wanted to – whether it’s screens or handing it off to Ray [Rice] or pushing it downfield to Anquan [Boldin] or whatever.”
Negating the run from their own sidelines not only affected Rice, it virtually took another Pro Bowl-caliber player, Vonta Leach, off the field. With the former Texan playing just 14 snaps (23% of the team’s offensive plays) the Ravens never stood a chance running the ball.
“We want to use [Leach] more than that- absolutely,” Harbaugh said.
“You can’t really guarantee that you’re going to do this in one game and that in another, but on average, Vonta Leach has got to play more than that.”
Harbaugh did disclose that he and Leach had a discussion on the flight home from Houston about his playing time.
“He was great, but he wants to play, and he knows he can help us. He wants to be out there.”
Judging by Harbaugh’s tone and attitude Monday, one got the feeling that, given another chance, he’d utilize the run game more, and give Rice more than nine touches.
“I’m not defending what we decided to do in that game or what we decided not to do,” he said. “We tried to get back in the game and it didn’t work.”
The Ravens will now have two weeks to let a huge loss marinate. It seems a safe bet that the game plan against Cleveland will feature much more Rice than we saw last week.
It would be shocking to see the Ravens once again ignore two of their best offensive weapons the way they did in Houston.