During the 2000 season the Ravens struggled offensively. They were 16th in the league in total offense and during one stretch they went 21 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown. Yet to their credit they recognized their weaknesses and managed games in a way that would accentuate their strengths.
The formula for success was cut and dried.
• Protect the football
• Control the clock
• Win the battle of field position with good special teams play
• Play great defense
The Ravens had a league-leading turnover ratio of +23. They were second to the Titans (33:54) in time of possession (33:19). They led the league in punt return average and of course they had the stingiest defense in the modern era yielding just 10.3 points per game.
In 2017, the Ravens offense is struggling again and they might have to borrow from Formula 2000. The question is, do they have the personnel to make it work?
Defensively, it looks like the Ravens are shaping up quite nicely and if they can develop a consistent pass rush (the signs are there), they should be among the defensive league leaders and with a promising secondary, a plus turnover ratio should be a foregone conclusion…
Assuming of course the Ravens can field a signal caller who can protect the football, should Joe Flacco miss some time.
Oh, and an effective rushing attack is a prerequisite. The trouble is, the Ravens, given the current composition of their roster, just don’t have the horses to get it done. The offensive line is in tatters. Ronnie Stanley has missed about a week; Marshal Yanda hasn’t practiced at all; newly acquired Austin Howard looks lumbering and out of shape and they’ve just brought back Jeremy Zuttah who was knocked around like a rag doll by the behemoth defensive tackles of the AFC North.
And even if senior offensive assistant Greg Roman does somehow morph into the offensive line whisperer, do they have the bell cow in their offensive backfield – that guy who can wear down a defense as the game unfolds and exert their will in the fourth quarter? Terrance West is a decent player but is he that guy? Does he inspire visions of Jamal Lewis trucking Joey Porter?
Can we reasonably expect an offense that has absolutely no identity to gel in the next 17 days?
Can we reasonably expect special teams without an impact return specialist to make a big enough difference?
All mostly rhetorical questions for sure, but that doesn’t mean that Formula 2000 can’t work, or at least allow the Ravens to hold serve until the offense finds that missing identity.
Crazier things have happened.
The 2000 season is a clear reminder.