Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns started about as good as anyone could imagine. The offense seemed intent on proving their worth on the road and hammered the Browns for two early touchdown drives that consisted of a 17:6 run-pass ratio including a 10:2 run-pass ratio on first down. It was smash mouth football and Ravens fans rejoiced.
Unfortunately this renaissance was short lived as the offense struggled to move the ball before halftime and well into the fourth quarter. If you look to Ravens coaches and players for the reason behind the offensive coma you will hear the same old tired buzzword: “execution.” Surely the eleven offensive players could have executed better over the course of the five straight three-and-outs in the second half and here are a few examples:
- After receiving the second half kickoff and running Rice for no gain, Flacco forced the ball to Pitta on a slant in between a corner and linebacker. Torrey Smith was open on the other side of the formation.
- With good field position the Ravens ran an outside zone play to the left on first down but Michael Oher was called for holding. On third and long, the offense went four wide and all the receivers ran stops at the first down marker. The Browns were in a form of cover 3 and Haden had outside position on Torrey Smith. Flacco threw on time to the outside but Smith failed to adjust his route by stemming outside and Haden nearly intercepted the ball.
- On a rare first down pass attempt, Flacco faked to Rice and gave Torrey Smith a chance on a go route. The pass was fairly accurate but Smith let the pass fall to the ground after it hit him in the chest. On third and long Flacco’s first read, Pitta, was bracketed over the middle and Flacco was sacked. Flacco failed to recognize the soft coverage on Torrey Smith who was open on a comeback route.
- On second down deep in Raven territory Flacco dropped back and found an open Ed Dickson over the middle…and Dickson promptly dropped the ball. Dickson was hit but the pass was easily catchable.
The truth is that the Browns had adjusted to the Ravens game plan by stacking the box and run blitzing on early downs. Cameron though, continued to call run plays on four of six first down chances. These four runs went for gains of 0,1,2, and 0 respectively, putting the offense behind the 8 ball from the start. Our players had chances to make plays but Cameron was not putting them in the best position to make them.
Finally, on the sixth drive of the second half, the Ravens were able to get a first down by using play action to hit Boldin over the middle on an intermediate route. Cam began to mix the formations and play calling and the Ravens went on to score the game-winning touchdown.
Cameron must be quicker to adjust the play calling when the offense is in a rut. There are times when receivers will have to make a tough catch or Flacco will have to deliver a pass in a tight window but that shouldn’t have to be every play.