Last weeks preseason game against the Cowboys was a strange one for the Ravens starters. Despite a 27-10 halftime lead, fans were left with an uneasy feeling and major concerns regarding the defense.
Matt Elam is still struggling to make the impact the Ravens envisioned when they drafted him in the first round last year. Elvis Dumervil was nowhere to be found, and CJ Mosley was active, but at times certainly provided us a reminder that he’s a rookie.
While the struggles on defense are a legitimate reason for concern, they have overshadowed some worrisome offensive trends that gave us a reminder of the Ravens 2013 offense.
Don’t get me wrong, the offense was effective at times. Joe Flacco made a couple of nice throws, the line has played well, and as a result the ground game looks primed to bounce back in a big way in 2014.
But, there are two major flaws the Ravens need to address before September 7th:
The slow start was disappointing after the offense’s success the previous week vs the 49ers. It was a major problem for the Ravens in 2013 when it seemed like more often than not they were playing from behind. It often forced the offense to become one dimensional and incredibly predictable.
Joe Flacco acknowledged these concerns this week. While the offense did have to wait for what seemed like forever to take the field, he wasn’t making any excuses. “We definitely can’t use [the extended time off the field] as an excuse,” Flacco said. “We’ve got to go out there and we have to click.”
Struggling away from M&T Bank is a concern as well. The Ravens finished 2-6 on the road in 2013, losing winnable games to teams like Cleveland and Buffalo. They face some tough tests on the road this year.
Aside from their divisional games, which are always hostile environments, they visit the Colts and Saints-no easy task to say the least.
Finishing with at least a .500 record on the road is vital to making it back to January football.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, their starters won’t have an opportunity to work on their road struggles again this preseason. They play at home this Saturday, and traditionally starters don’t play in the final preseason game which will be in New Orleans.
The Ravens have concerns on both sides of the ball, but it’s the preseason, and what team doesn’t? The point of the preseason is to work on those problems while the games don’t matter. While the defense seems to be the biggest reason for worry at the moment, the offense appears to have improved. If they can stay sustain drives to stay on the field more than they did in 2013, it will help the defense immensely during the regular season.