Formula 4 Failure: 54 + 9 = 1 Loss

Harbaugh Ray Rice

If your team produced the following plays, how would you feel?

* On 1st down, gain of 5 yards
* On 2nd down, gain of 3 yards
* On 1st down, gain of 3 yards
* On 1st down, gain of 1 yard
* On 1st down, gain of 5 yards
* On 1st down, gain of 1 yard
* On 2nd down, no gain


Yes, the no gain and gain of 1 yard are not good, but if you can gain 5 yards on 1st down, and 3 yards on 2nd down, now you stand at 3rd and 2, and I would take that every single time.

Those were the results of the Ravens running plays in the 1st half Sunday against the Bills.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said it was his decision to abandon the run in the 2nd half. The local media failed to ask a significant follow-up question… WHY? If Harbaugh truly thought the run wasn’t working, I beg to differ. Four of the 7 running plays gained 3 or 5 yards. If you continue to try runs, sooner or later you’ll wear down the defense and break one.

Doesn’t every running back say they need to get into a rhythm?

When Harbaugh decided to abandon the run, you don’t give your young offense a chance. I mean, he didn’t even try to feign the threat of a run!

Ninety-nine percent of the plays in the 2nd half were out of the shotgun. That means the beat-up secondary of the Bills were given the advantage of not having to worry at all about the run. It also means that the Ravens were relying on old or unproven receivers to make plays and they have not been able to convert yet this season.

Joe Flacco had as many interceptions as Ray Rice had runs on Sunday. That should NEVER happen. We’ve all seen the stat over the years… The Ravens best chance of winning is when their running backs touch the ball at least 20 times in a game. It keeps a defense honest.

ESPN’s John Buccigross tweeted:

“Joe Flacco dropped back to pass on 54 of Baltimore’s 63 plays (85.8%). Since 2008, teams that don’t rush on more than 20% of plays are 1-56.”

I will never understand why those of us at home can see and understand this, but NFL Head Coaches seem to think they can change that stat. The Ravens have always been a better team when they run the ball and play good defense. This team can do that, if their coaches give them the chance.

Now, let me say this… I totally support John Harbaugh as the Ravens Head Coach. I think he is one of the better coaches in the league. His leadership has been outstanding for this team. The way he handled the whole “Sweet Pea” incident was first-class. It could not have been handled better. The admiration for Harbaugh aside, he is not beyond reproach.

The same can be said of Joe Flacco.

Yes, he had a bad game Sunday. He is not making great decisions, but he is also not being given much to work with. His receivers can’t make a catch. His O-line can’t block. And play action isn’t an option when the Ravens aren’t running the ball. Flacco has some things to improve upon, but he is still a very good quarterback.

There are only 4 quarterbacks in the NFL that I would take over Joe Flacco: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. And those four quarterbacks each have had much better receivers than Flacco has had. This year only, Brady has less to work with than Joe, and he’s struggled (until Sunday night).

I still believe the Ravens will be fine. But if they don’t turn things around on Sunday in Miami, then they may not be. As our own Tony Lombardi pointed out yesterday, there is a good possibility of the Ravens being 4-4 halfway through this season, with the Steelers only a game behind at 3-5.

You can’t say it’s a “must win” yet, but the Ravens have got to find a way to get a road win this weekend and stay above .500.

To me it’s simple… give your running backs at least 20 touches and watch your offense open up.


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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

6 Raves on “Formula 4 Failure: 54 + 9 = 1 Loss

  1. dumb on said:

    i can wrap my head around all of our issues Sunday, bad o-line play, defensive struggles against the run, joe played like crap, dropped passes…but i can’t seem to figure why we only ran the ball 9 times!!! how does our coaching staff do that?

  2. Joe Deasel on said:

    I believe Coach Harbs’ game plan all along was to exploit what he viewed as a bad secondary, given all the injuries the Bills had in the defensive backfield. I think he thought Flacco could dominate in the passing game and as a result completely abandoned the run. I think that was one of his worse coaching jobs since becoming head coach.

  3. Jimmy Dundalk on said:

    Now you are seeing what kind of head coach Harbaugh really is,,,,,,,,,he has lost his ‘on field’ coaches of Lewis , Reed and Boldin and got rid of all the tough guys and this is what you get,,,,a coach that clearly is over-rated and thinks highly of himself,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,the great fans of Baltimore do not deserve this and to think he got a two million dollar raise,,,,,,,,,,,,gut feeling anyone ?

    • Chad Spiegel on said:

      Really? Now you’re blaming offensive play calling on the departure of Lewis and Reed? I mean, I’m sick and tired of hearing the “leadership concerns” because of those guys leaving but this comment really makes no sense. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed did not coach the team last season, Harbs did. Man, I really don’t get some of these Baltimore fans! C’mon man!

      • Fernando Pegurer Caprino on said:

        Agree, agree and agree! You can say they played bad football, which they did. But to say they aren’t tough?! You’ve gotta be kidding…

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