The Baltimore Ravens will spend the week trying desperately to keep the season from unraveling.
A pair of losses already has the team scrambling for answers, especially on offense.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown for one touchdown with four interceptions over the recent two-game skid. The Ravens were outscored 44-0 in the first half of those games and simply could not recover because they are not built to play from behind.
There doesn’t appear to be any quick-fix solutions to the problems.
“Everything that we do on offense is a little bit aided, either by turnovers, good field position, stuff like that,” Flacco said. “We’re not creating a lot for ourselves right now. We’re just going the hard way. Obviously, with that one long run, it popped, but besides that one long run, we’re not getting any big plays. There’s a couple out there, we’re just missing them.”
Flacco missed all of training camp with an ailing back. However, he said numerous times that injury has not affected his performance.
In four games this season, Flacco has completed just 73 of 118 pass attempts for 601 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions.
The loss of right guard Marshal Yanda to a season-ending ankle injury cannot be overstated. Yanda is the anchor of the offensive and that unit has struggled without him in the lineup.
Flacco has also been sacked six times over the past two games and has been limited to mostly check-downs because he doesn’t have time to look downfield.
The Ravens have the 31st-ranked passing offense with 570 yards, just ahead of Miami (548).
“We’ve got to be better off early in games,” Flacco said. “So, that’s the type of game that’s going to benefit us right now, is being good early and then putting teams away. And when we’re trying to climb back in games like we were today, there’s opportunities to do it, and we weren’t good enough to do it. That starts with me. I wasn’t good enough to get us back in the game.”
The Ravens defense was expected to help carry the team. While that was the case in a pair of victories to open the season, that unit has also struggled in the recent losses. The team has sorely missed defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who missed the last two games with a foot injury.
Without Williams in the lineup, the Jacksonville Jaguars amassed 166 rushing yards in a 44-7 victory Week 3 in London. The Ravens then had no answer for Le’Veon Bell, who had 144 yards on 35 carries with two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s 26-9 win.
Still, the Ravens were not using the absence of Williams as an excuses for their struggles against the run.
“In a sense, it affects us,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “The next guy has to step up. When he comes back, we’ll be ready for him. But we just can’t make that [as an] excuse. If anything, the guy that’s behind him have got to see what he does on those types of runs, or watch a little more film and see what you need to work on for those types of runs. You’ve got to figure it out as a whole group.”
The Ravens face another tough challenge this week in Oakland. The cross-country travel certainly is going to be an added challenge.
From there, the Ravens can get back on track with two of the next three games at home against the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. Baltimore has a challenging road trip to Minnesota in between those games.
The Ravens are trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Harbaugh expects things to turn around. He might be more optimistic than his fan base.
“We’ve been worse than 2-2 here before and come back and gone to the AFC Championship,” Harbaugh said. “So, that’s what you do. This is a long season in the National Football League, so we go to work.”