Ravens Can’t Waste Favorable Schedule

Street Talk Ravens Can’t Waste Favorable Schedule

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Perception is Reality

REALITY: The Baltimore Ravens went back to the basics in their win in Oakland and it worked.

Perception: We have been crying for the Ravens to do exactly what they did this past Sunday: run the ball and throw it downfield. They did both and it paid off in a big way.

The Ravens ran the ball 38 times (the most of the season) for 145 yards (not counting Joe Flacco’s runs). The progress they made in the run game gave them the opportunity to open up the passing game and go down field with play-action passes. That paid off as well as the Ravens had 222 yards in the air, with a number of plays downfield, and even attempts that failed but were at least tried, unlike in previous weeks.

Joe Flacco had time, thanks to great work from the offensive line. Giving him time to look downfield also gave him a chance to not rush throws into traffic, helping Flacco to not turn the ball over for the first time in 11 games.

REALITY: The Baltimore Ravens never seem to be in a hurry.

Perception: At the end of the 1st half on Sunday, the Ravens had the ball and were driving with under 2-minutes to go, but there was no hurry-up to the offense. The TV announcers made comments about it (and they always do when the Ravens try to run their “2-Minute Drill”), and most fans saw it too.

I’m not sure what the issue is, but head coach John Harbaugh and Flacco have never seemed to care. Flacco runs the hurry-up offense the same way that he talks to the media… “Joe Cool,”and just seems to be the same as any other drive. The team has done a “no huddle” offense effectively in the past, but that’s not a hurry-up, as much as it is just staying on the field with the same players, not allowing the defense to recover. The 2-minute drill needs to be a no huddle, but also needs to be fast. The player makes a catch, runs to get the ball to the official, sets up and goes.

The Ravens don’t do that. Even if the receiver hurries, Flacco and the rest of the offense takes their time and use up too much clock. They used over 20 seconds in their “hurry up” offense before halftime Sunday. It is way too much time. But apparently, we just need to get used to it.

No offensive coordinator has fixed it, and Harbaugh and Flacco certainly aren’t in a hurry to fix it either.

REALITY: Of running backs with at least 20 carries, Alex Collins has the highest yards-per-carry in the NFL with 7.1.

Perception: The Ravens seemed to have found a needle in a haystack with Collins. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 draft by the Seattle Seahawks, Collins played in 11 games last year, but only had 31 rushing attempts for 125 yards. He showed real promise when he had 21 carries for 106 yards in the final three games of the season.

Collins was cut by the Seahawks on September 2nd, and had a choice between joining the Ravens practice squad or the New York Jets, and we are glad he chose Baltimore.

After the Ravens struggled with staying healthy, Collins was quickly promoted to the 53-man roster and he has paid off for the Ravens. He made his debut in Cleveland, rushing 7 times for 42 yards. As bad as the Ravens were in London, Collins took the ball 9 times for 82 yards. He had the same numbers against Pittsburgh a week later. This past Sunday, he has 12 attempts for 55 yards, including a 25-yard carry.

It is not like his success is totally shocking for the 23-year-old. With Arkansas, he became one of only three running backs in SEC history to rush for 1,000 or more yards in their first three seasons. The Ravens were lucky to have Collins fall in their laps a week before the season.

REALITY: The Ravens next four games are against teams not playing the quarterback they had announced as their starter in the preseason.

Perception: If you look ahead, the Ravens schedule looks like it will benefit the team in the next month… but if we know the Ravens, they play to the level of their competition, so trying to guess how they will do against their schedule is an impossible task.

However, the schedule does look nice. The Bears and Vikings were in a 3-2 game at the half on Monday Night Football. That’s about all you need to know about their next two games. The Dolphins look like a dumpster fire as a team right now, and the Titans don’t look like they can do anything without Marcus Mariota, but with four weeks to go until that game, he might return by then.

But then the Ravens have an extremely tough four game stretch in Green Bay, against the Texans and Lions, and then in Pittsburgh. So Baltimore has to take advantage of the next four weeks.

REALITY: The Bears lead the regular season series against the Ravens 3-2.

Perception: These two teams do not play that often, just once every four years, with the last game being a Bears overtime victory in Chicago in 2013.

Believe it or not, with as much as the Bears have been struggling, their offense ranks ahead of the Ravens, and so does their defense. So what gives? The turnovers.

Baltimore has 9 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries, while Chicago has just 3 takeaways. The bigger issue for the Bears is the fact that they have 12 turnovers, and the Ravens have 9. So the Ravens are +4 in turnovers, while the Bears are -9. You can’t win games that way.

The Ravens will have to find a way to stop Mitchell Trubisky, who showed some ability on Monday night. They don’t have much tape to prepare for, but if Trubisky continues to roll-out and throw against his body (like he did Monday night), the Ravens should be able to come up with some interceptions.

The Bears are averaging 4.4 yards per carry, so the Ravens will need to clog up some holes without Brandon Williams again.

The Ravens will need to have their offensive line play as well as they did this past Sunday. No sacks allowed, no penalties, and plenty of holes for the running backs.

If the HC and OC put together the same offensive game plan that they did last week, this should be an easy win for the Ravens. Run first. Throw downfield. But the problem is Coach Harbaugh likes to change things up. He said, “the formula is going to be different every week.”

I don’t want to hear that. The Ravens have three wins, and each of the three wins had the same formula. The two losses had the same formula. Use the formula that worked.

Ravens win 24-13.

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Joe Polek

About Joe Polek

Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. He lived in Maine from 2001-2012, where he met his wife and had two daughters. He now resides in Columbia, SC where he has left TV/Radio and is the South Carolina Marketing Coordinator for Bojangles’ Restaurants. Joe is a huge sports fan, but most importantly he lives and breathes Baltimore (and Maryland) sports. He routinely gets back to Baltimore for a Ravens and Orioles game once a year. A couple of his highlights were being at the final game at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, and also sitting in left field for “2130”, and “2131” (Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak).

Find Joe on Twitter @JoePolek.

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