THE GOOD, BAD & UGLY: Ravens Win Ugly!

gump-flacco

Whenever the Baltimore Ravens take the field in 2013 no one knows what to expect to see other than the worst rushing attack in the modern era of the NFL. Most of the blame can be pinpointed to the offensive line but the team’s ball carriers haven’t exactly set the world on fire.

If Ray Rice is as genuinely healthy as he claims to be, then the Ravens will be saddled with an unproductive salary cap hog for a few seasons and at this point, it makes more sense to give those 18 carries to Bernard Pierce who seems to know how to milk yards from a bad play a bit better than Rice.

Among the 28 RB’s that are ranked by Pro Football Focus for their “elusivity”, Rice is at the very bottom. He is averaging 2.5 yards per carry on 115 attempts, good for a ranking of 107 in the league. His yards per catch average (33 receptions) is 4.9 which ranks 366th in the league.

If he’s hurt, sit him. He’s obviously doing the team no good. He’s also overwhelmed at the point of attack by oncoming blitzers while in pass protection. If his name was not Ray Rice and he didn’t sign that fat contract in 2012, would he be playing as much? Would he even be on the team?

Could a combination of Bernards (Pierce and Scott) provide a little extra pop?

Could the running game be any worse?

The scary thing is that this abysmal rushing attack has a trickle down effect. It kills the passing game because there are too many second and third and long situations and it places unnecessary pressure on pass protection. Tell me you haven’t wondered how long Joe Flacco can keep his consecutive games streak alive.

The sputtering rushing attack’s collateral damage includes more three and outs (30.5% of all drives, 2nd worst in NFL), short rests for the defense, losses in the battle for field position and of course it makes it exceedingly difficult to win.

Thankfully the Ravens have improved defensively, perhaps even more so than the stats might indicate given the uphill climb the offense forces upon them. Watching the 2013 Ravens is very similar to watching the struggling offenses from the past led by Trent Dilfer and Kyle Boller. But at least those teams had a running game and they could play the field position/time of possession chess match, keep it close and pull one out with a field goal.

You know, a little bit like yesterday.

Only then the Ravens had the awful play of Andy Dalton and 134 yards in Bengals penalties to help them out.

What will happen the rest of the way is anyone’s guess but one thing is almost certain – with the modern era’s worst running game it won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be pretty. So expect more of the same in the weeks ahead.

 

THE GOOD

Nearly everything that was good in yesterday’s game took place on the defensive side of the football. The Ravens secondary had arguably their best outing of the season. Jimmy Smith (5 tackles, 2 PD’s, 1 TFL) was stout at corner and Lardarius Webb (5 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PD’s) was extremely active and was also effective blitzing from the nickel position. James Ihedigbo also had a very good game with 9 tackles, 2 INT’s and 3 PD’s…Elvis Dumervil was a force on the edge and got the best of Andre Smith and at times Andrew Whitworth, leading to 2 1/2 sacks…Daryl Smith had his usual solid performance and came within inches of 2 interceptions while contributing 9 tackles and 2 PD’s.

Bernard Pierce showed some explosiveness and given Rice’s struggles he should be the team’s featured back going forward…Ed Dickson had a decent showing (3 catches for 28 yards including a key first down) and laid a devastating block on safety Reggie Nelson during the Tyrod Taylor reverse…Justin Tucker was 2-for-2 on FGA’s including the walk-off 46-yarder. Dean Pees called a great game mixing in an assortment of blitzes to confuse and rattle Andy Dalton.

 

THE BAD

Joe Flacco has now had very poor outings in two consecutive games and has developed a very bad knack for taking a sack to knock the Ravens out of field goal range. He has consistently thrown late and/or behind Jacoby Jones on deep posts when Jones has established scoring separation. Some of his decision making with throws was very Dalton-esque and he’s very fortunate that a couple other passes weren’t picked off. He’s been spared from the “Ugly” list only because he’s working with a handicap – the NFL’s worst running game…The Ravens talked about getting off to a fast start yet their first series on offense produced yet another 3-and-out after Dallas Clark dropped a third down pass that should have produced a new set of downs…

The conservative approach on offense in the second half is just further proof that John Harbaugh teams just don’t go for the jugular. Their failure to keep Cincinnati guessing and on their heels paved the way for the Cincinnati comeback. Was not a fan of the play calling leading up to Justin Tucker’s game winner. Given the windy conditions that kick was hardly a given and had Tucker missed the Bengals would have been about 35 yards away from a game winning attempt of their own.

 

THE UGLY

Once again King Ugly goes to the offensive line. From my vantage point their biggest downfall whether it be in pass protection or when run blocking, is that too often the O-linemen double team a player while leaving another, usually a delayed blitzer, free to run unabated to either Flacco or the ball carrier. More often than not the guilty party is Gino Gradkowski. When is enough, enough with the second-year former Delaware Blue Hen? Is the once heralded Jah Reid that horrific at guard that the Ravens are afraid to move AQ Shipley to center?

 

THOMPSON CREEK PLAYER OF THE GAME

There were several standout performances on defense but the nod here goes to Lardarius Webb who rebounded immensely after a shaky start in Cleveland last week. Webb was often assigned to the dangerous AJ Green and kept the All Pro in check. If not for two balls with fortuitous bounces off James Ihedigbo, both leading to catches of 43 and 51 yards accounting for 94 of Green’s 151 receiving yards, Green would have been limited 57 yards. Webb’s threatening presence in blitz packages also helped others to clean up and register QB hurries and sacks.

12 Raves on “THE GOOD, BAD & UGLY: Ravens Win Ugly!

  1. OMAR804 on said:

    couple things that might help the ravens with running game:
    1-spread the D out, 4 WRs set, single back, and try to run the ball from
    2-demote RR, he’s not the same ever since that injury. let peirce and scott grind it out.

  2. JerryB on said:

    Defenses are using more “man” coverage against our receivers that allows them to stack 6 and 7 in the “box”, which is overwhelming this “O” line in both the running and passing games! The hiring of Juan Castillo, the so-called “Run Game Coordinator”, was ill-timed and ill-advised and his “tinkering” has hindered rather than helped! Agree, go back to basics and use the pass to set up the run! For all his struggles, Flacco is still able to win unlike his often compared to counterpart in Atlanta, Matt Ryan, who obviously can’t win without White and Jones! Also agree that Harbaugh’s big conservative fingerprints are all over this struggling offense. Turn it over to Caldwell and Flacco and get out of the….way!

    • Phil frm Frostburg on said:

      6 or 7 in the box is not “stacking” the box. Those are normal defensive formations. Jamal Lewis had to deal with 8 and 9 in the box consistently. The problems are much deeper. And yes, Jah Reid is THAT bad, but something has to be done about Gino before Flacco gets seriously injured, a real possibility against an aggressive Bears defense.

    • RaveNoO on said:

      Harbaugh does not have finger prints on this offense. This is all Caldwell and flacco. They are horrible at play calling. We need an o coordinator desperately. The inability to get a yard on a running play against any D is absolutely horrific coaching. I could do better with Alabamas O line as long as you give me their coaches too. I am not kidding. And joe continues to prove he is an average Joe.

  3. Sdot on said:

    I just hate knowing that our team will come out with the same scheme we’ve been failing at all year. Same personnel, same blocking, same heavy dosage of Ray Rice. We can be so much better if we just adjust our blocking scheme and remove Gradkowski but that will never happen!!

  4. dave on said:

    “Joe Flacco has now had very poor outings in two consecutive games and has developed a very bad knack for taking a sack to knock the Ravens out of field goal range. ” “developed” ?? IMO, ever thus.

    Last years playoffs were the outlier.

  5. Ravcolt on said:

    Good: (Finally) the emergence of Tyrod Taylor, our fastest back, into the fold.
    Bad: Ignoring Taylor the rest of the game after one highly successful play.
    Ugly: Joe Flacco’s continued lousy footwork prior to releasing the ball. He is either unsure of himself or scared.

    The Ravens could be on a record-setting pace for the most three-and-out’s in one season.

  6. purpleneons on said:

    As a longtime Flacco defender I gotta be honest…..he’s stunk most of the season, but the last two weeks have been especially bad for Flacco. If he had performed better (accuracy) the Ravens would have at least one more win, possibly two. The absurdity of the offensive line is not an excuse for constantly under-throwing Jacoby and Torrey on deep routes. He’s holding onto the ball way to long and is not exercising good judgement in the pocket. Twice he’s taken sacks that put the Ravens out of field goal range.

    And neither Flacco or a fellow player or a freakin coach could figure out that they needed to snap the ball with 1 or 2 seconds left on the play clock rather than the 13, 14 and 15 seconds that they were giving to the Bengals each play in the fourth quarter? Not one person on the Ravens could figure that out? How can that possibly be missed?

    As I said, I’m an original Flacco fan, never say a negative word about the guy until now, because he is a difference maker, but he is disappointing this year and has not risen up and excelled, but instead has been as inconsistent as the offense he leads.

    My overall grade for Joe this season is a C- with the last two games being D and an F and he is much better than that.

  7. Vicio on said:

    Our offense just looks bad. We need to get the ball out more quickly with screens to Rbs Wrs and Tight Ends. That will give the opponent defense on its heels and make them very conscience about their pass rush. With how bad our offensive line looks, there’s no point in pretending we will get it right. It’s been 9 games played and I just cringe whenever I see running backs getting hit at the line or in the backfield. Also teams know our center is struggling and o line as a whole. Teams are just blitzing right up the middle with stunts and delays. If you are not going to show that you can pick up those blitzes or convert on third down teams will continue to blitz and play aggressive. Sounds like the screen game could be huge and not only feature ray rice receiving them but the tight ends and wide outs too.

  8. JerryB on said:

    Here’s something for Ravens/Flacco detractors to consider: Flacco has accomplished more in the 5 1/2 years he’s been in the league than ANY OTHER QB and he’s done it with considerably less surrounding talent than his contemporaries! Simply stated, he’s the Ravens MVP and without him, they don’t win!

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