The best way for the Ravens to execute the sugar huddle in Cleveland on Sunday will be to do just that – give it the execution it deserves.
Sayonara, scram, adios and goodbye.
Eliminating what seems to be the Ravens’ primary offensive philosophy may seem drastic, but so far – especially on the road – it has caused more harm than good.
The play calling lacks creativity, being extremely predictable in most instances. The offense is barely on the field and then a battered and bruised defense ends up getting gassed once again.
Need evidence of this? The Ravens are last in the NFL in time of possession (26:06).
That’s not good for an offense that is supposed to eat minutes off the clock.
Aside from time of possession, there are other eye-opening areas that were hopefully analyzed by the coaches during their bye week self-examination.
The sugar huddle rarely uses a fullback. When a fullback is rarely used, the run game is also rarely used. In Houston, for instance, Vonta Leach ended up standing on the sidelines for 77 percent of the offensive snaps.
How will Ray Rice be effective without his lead blocker? As for Rice, he only carried the ball nine times – the proof is in the pudding.
In his press conference on Monday, John Harbaugh said, “The run game is not consistently attributable to the I-formation or the two-back stuff, although that has been good too.”
Getting back to the “two-back stuff” seems to be the best way for the Ravens to utilize two of the best players in their respective positions in the entire NFL, while also improving upon their abysmal time of possession numbers.
Through the first seven games of the season, Vonta Leach has been on the field for 36% of offensive snaps – consequently this is also the maximum amount of plays the Ravens could run with a two-back set or I-formation.
In certain cases, especially in Houston, Leach has been on the field as the only back in order to help protect the quarterback when the offensive line is struggling.
Rice is undoubtedly one of the most explosive playmakers in the game but the Ravens have only rushed him 90 times so far – that’s 27.1 percent of their total offensive snaps.
Joe Flacco had one of his worst games as a pro against the Texans, but criticizing him is a bit unjust given the lack of creative play calling.
The play-action is nonexistent without a steady running game, and the Ravens offense is designed for big plays coming from that specific play call. Establishing the run – especially with two backs on the field – will set up the play action and take less pressure off of the quarterback.
How can teams respect the Ravens’ run game with Leach on the sidelines? Rice is one of the most lethal weapons out of the backfield when catching the ball but he doesn’t even have an extra blocker to help him spring free.
Hopefully, the lopsided loss and mismanagement of the game in Houston was a big enough eye opener for the coaching staff that they understand the need to get back to what they know works – the running game.
When opponents game plan to beat the Ravens, eliminating Rice is their number one concern because the perception around the league is Flacco and the receiving corps can’t beat them alone. Why have the Ravens eliminated their top threat on their own?
Hopefully the Ravens shift back to a two-back system and use the sugar huddle less often (if not abandoning it altogether). If the Ravens offense continues to be mismanaged as it has been during certain bad losses, especially on the road, the fan base will be screaming for the front office to say, “sayonara, scram, adios and goodbye” to Cam Cameron.
The rushing offense has been Cameron’s best friend since he’s been in Baltimore.
Rice is still here. Leach is still here.
Why change it now?