Once again, the Ravens rushing attack was non-existent in a loss. Even though they faced the NFL’s fourth ranked defense, the offense rarely displayed any sort of cohesiveness under new offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell.
Ray Rice had 38 yards on 12 attempts and wasn’t targeted a single time out of the backfield on third down. Rice’s primary blocker, fullback Vonta Leach, played just 11 of the team’s 65 offensive snaps (17%) as the Ravens routinely played from the shotgun with a three wide receiver set for most of the second half.
As Chris Harris intercepted a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 98-yards for a touchdown, the air was let out of the sails of the Ravens offense. The blow Harris and the Broncos delivered to the Ravens possibly wouldn’t have been as crucial had the Ravens not made so many play calling mistakes prior their final attempt to score at the half.
Aside from two designed play-action tosses to Leach, the Ravens ran the ball on their five other 1st-and-10 opportunities of the half. With Leach on the field in either the I or offset-I formation, Flacco would motion either Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin between the hashes to provide blocking help.
The Broncos weren’t confused, as they routinely stuffed the box because of only having to worry about one receiver running a route.
“We probably could have mixed in more passes there on first down on that stretch – no question,” said John Harbaugh. “But you want to be committed, you want to try to get something going in the run game, too. If we get a few more yards in the run game then those second downs and those third downs, you have a little better chance of accomplishing converting on third down.”
After firing Cam Cameron last week, the offensive performance left a lot to be desired, erasing the feeling that anything had changed with Cameron’s departure. There will be growing pains as the offensive players must now adapt to a new coordinator so late in the season but having balanced play calls is something that doesn’t take any effort.
Fans picked up on it in the stands, and the Broncos players and coaches obviously did on the field.
Rice had seven attempts in the first half, only three of which were with Leach blocking for him. Many will point to the poor offensive line play (yes, they were horrible) for Rice’s mediocre numbers. But isn’t that all the MORE reason to have Leach bulldozing the way?
No matter how you want to calculate it, this is far from a winning formula based on the personnel of the Ravens offense. The final score indicated as much.
“That’s something that we can do a little better job of balancing,” stated Harbaugh.