Unless you’ve been living under a rock or stranded on a desert island with Kate Upton and you really don’t care, the Ravens offense has struggled mightily and it’s safe to say they’ve been rather ill.
So today I decided to make a house call. Jim Caldwell, if you aren’t listening you should. Dr. O is in the house offering this free trial of my 7 Step Wellness Program for the Ravens offense.
1. EMBRACE THE SUGAR HUDDLE
This isn’t rocket science but for some reason the Ravens’ brass seems to want to make it that way. First Brian Billick, the alleged offensive genius, “coordinated” a moribund offense. Then it was Cam Cameron and now Jim Caldwell. The Ravens seem to just keep wallowing in the mire when they have the ball.
So, to light a fire, just unleash Joe Flacco. Let him run the sugar huddle from the first play of the game and get the defense on their collective heels. How much evidence does John Harbaugh need to see before he finally gets it – Flacco needs the up tempo game to develop his rhythm. How nice might it be to play with a lead and eventually make opponents one-dimensional on offense? Dean Pees can then unleash DumerSizzle.
2. RICE WITH A SIDE ORDER OF PIERCE
They talked about it in camp, showed it once during the Super Bowl but have failed to feature it yet in 2013 – Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce together in the backfield at the same time.
This doesn’t have to be an every down thing or even a once every set of downs occurrence. But for a handful of plays wouldn’t it make sense to have two of the team’s best playmakers on the field at the same time? Rhetorical question…
3. PASS TO SET UP THE RUN
Look it’s no secret that teams are choking the Ravens running game on first down yet like Nuke LaLoosh who wanted to establish his authority in Bull Durham, Caldwell seems hell bent on running on first down.
Why not make safe passes on first down to set up second and 4 or so, effectively opening up the entire playbook for the next snap? Loosening opposing defenses up early during a fresh set of downs will create space and help breathe life into an ineffective running game that is now without it’s starting left guard.
4. PUT THE OUT BACK IN
One of the staples of the Cam Cameron offense was the out pattern. Short outs, intermediate outs and deep outs were run under Cameron as if his wide receivers had restraining orders preventing them from running inside the numbers. Joe Flacco delivered such passes as good as anyone. Suddenly they’re completely gone. Bring it back without the restraining orders!
5. LEACH ON A LEASH
Seemingly overnight, Vonta Leach doesn’t look like the player he once was. Perhaps the inefficiencies of the guys up front contribute but his lack of versatility and speed make him very one-dimensional and he runs a wheel route like he has two flat tires. And perhaps the most disturbing thing – when he’s in the game it screams, “WE’RE RUNNING THE FOOTBALL!” I scream back, “SIT LEACH DOWN!”
6. NGATA YARD
Bill Belichick has always been a coach who fearlessly tries new things to give his team an advantage or during desperate times (WR’s Troy Brown, Julian Edelman as DB’s). You may recall how he utilized linebacker Mike Vrabel as a tight end in goal line situations. During his career Vrabel caught 10 passes for 14 yards. Every catch went for a touchdown.
A few years back the Ravens enjoyed success at the goal line when they used Haloti Ngata in short yardage situations. He was overpowering at the point of attack. It’s pretty impressive how much more explosive Ngata can be when he knows the snap count.
7. TAYLOR MADE
Relax, I’m not suggesting that Tyrod Taylor replace Joe Flacco. I am suggesting that the offensive coaching staff figure out a way to use his open-field elusiveness to loosen up defenses and keep them on their heels. Give him 4-6 plays per game to run an option, waggle, boot, double pass or flanker screen. Make the opponents prepare more, think more, be unsure…it will slow them down and good things can and will happen.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to take this call. Kate is holding on line 2.