Subscribe to our newsletter

Tale of the Tape: Perfect the Enemy of Good for Ravens

Share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Baltimore Ravens had two drives against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday – their first and last of the 2nd half – that encapsulate the problems plaguing their offense.

The run game is still working, especially the bread and butter designed runs for Lamar Jackson. Greg Roman has thrown some fun new zone concepts into the mix to maximize the ability of Ronnie Stanley and Tyler Linderbaum to block on the move.

But the Ravens just can’t get into rhythm in the air, forcing them back to the ground game.

Roman’s play calling, especially with a lead, continues to be predictable and therefore easy to stop, while Jackson is missing open receivers either with his eyes or arm.

Let’s take a look at the second problem first, which popped up in the Ravens’ opening drive of the 2nd half. To set the table a little, the Ravens scored a touchdown to go up 13-10 just after the 2-minute warning and forced a Browns punt to take the lead into the half.

The Ravens early down passing was up in both frequency and efficiency to start the season, something it feels like they’ve gotten away from in the last few weeks. Roman came out firing in the second half (good!) but does so with a max-protect play-action shot with only two players running routes off the snap (bad!)

Baltimore keeps in seven to protect Jackson, plus Gus Edwards looking for work before releasing into the flat. That design flaw is on Roman, for sure, and Josh Oliver gets duped by the delayed blitzer, but Jackson has to take the easy throw to Edwards and let him rumble here.

The Ravens then spread it out on 2nd down, something they do far too infrequently. With Likely and Andrews, they can even do so with two TEs to maintain some deception in the huddle and maybe draw a few mismatches.

But Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (aka JOK) isn’t a mismatch for Mark Andrews, and Jackson is too quick on the trigger here.

Jackson has a clean pocket, which is often the case when the offense is spread out. Fewer blockers means more targets that the defense has to commit to covering from the snap, while keeping two or three extra players to block limits route combinations and allows defenders to either chase Jackson or blanket coverage.

It’s a fine pass, but he has time to find a better matchup and a more open man, who happens to be a wide-open Rashod Bateman – who is proving to be a YAC monster – on a quick in-breaker underneath.

(JOK is a crazy good defender and might have been built in a lab to counter Jackson and this Ravens offense in general. He was everywhere on Sunday and was often the reason plays didn’t work to their maximum potential.)

On 3rd-and-long, Jackson makes the same mistake as 1st down, keeping his eyes downfield and refusing to hit either checkdown option.

I know it’s 3rd down, so Jackson is hunting for first down yardage, but both Andrews and Justice Hill a) have plenty of room to run and b) are excellent ballcarriers. At least give them a chance to make a play!

Jackson could step up and rip a tough, tight throw to James Proche, but he doesn’t do that either. I’m less upset about that, and his overall efforts to protect the ball after the fiasco vs. the Giants, but he needs to strike the right balance there. Risky, cross-body throws to Patrick Ricard should be avoided, but a bullet to Proche with a few yards of separation isn’t the worst idea!

Baltimore could have gone up 20-10 with a TD on this drive; instead, they punt the ball back to Cleveland and give them a chance to take a lead.

Let’s jump ahead to the Ravens’ final drive of the game. With a lead inside of two minutes and just one timeout left on the opposing sideline, this should be automatic for this offense. But the play calling is predictable and bland, starting with this run on 1st down.

It’s smart to avoid plays that can lead to turnovers, and have in the past. The mesh point is risky, as is any play with Devin Duvernay sweeping either as a ballcarrier or a decoy given past snap issues. But this trips formation invites the Browns to stack the box and crowd the line and the play call demands perfect blocking for any modicum of success.

The general idea behind the play call on 2nd down – get the ball into Jackson’s hands and let him make a play – is sound, but the trips formation again allows the Browns to stack defenders on the play side.

It’s actually the blocking that fails here. Ronnie Stanley and Tyler Linderbaum are a great combo on the move, but Linderbaum has to let Stanley handle 43 and turn upfield to block 54, who eventually makes the tackle. These are the little things that are holding back the Ravens run game, as Roman mentioned earlier this season, but they’re improving week-over-week, so I’m not too worried.

That still sets up a 3rd and long, with an all-time predictable and uninspired play call. With three tight ends plus Ricard on the field, Roman might as well have radioed the play call into the defensive huddle, too.

Look, I’m not saying the Ravens should spread out and go Four Verts here, but something that stands a chance to gain a 1st down would have been nice. All 11 Browns defenders are within five yards of the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field, instead of any attempt to spread things out and create space. Even having Jackson keep the ball on a naked bootleg and try to shake-and-bake his way to the sticks would have been a safe way to actually try to get a 1st down.

The plan may have been to kill clock on the play to set up an easier punt range for Jordan Stout, but the Ravens call a timeout after the play instead of taking the delay of game, so there’s incongruent strategic decisions there, too. If that was the intention, a QB kneel would have been a smarter play considering the fumble on the last drive.

I’ve watched this offensive performance twice, and it’s clear there is a good, maybe even a great offense somewhere in there, just dying to get out.

Little things – drops, penalties, missed blocks, miscommunications, etc. – are impossible to completely avoid. Jackson is also going to miss some targets and throws, and Roman won’t always pull the right lever in the right situation.

But it feels like that desire to reach perfection has become the enemy of play-to-play success. Jackson needs to take what the defense gives him and let other players make plays. Roman has to avoid falling into predictable patterns with his formations and personnel deployment to prevent plays from being over before the ball is even snapped.

Tonight’s matchup against an injury-ridden Buccaneers defense should be an excellent opportunity to get this offense into a much-needed rhythm and build some confidence and trust between Roman, Jackson, his blockers and his playmakers.

Tyler Huntley at practice
Injury Report

Injury Report: Ravens @ Steelers (Wednesday)

Ravens Did Not Participate: WR Devin Duvernay (NIR-rest); QB Lamar Jackson (knee); CB Marcus Peters (NIR-rest); DE Calais Campbell (NIR-rest); OL Morgan Moses (NIR-rest); G …

Read More →
Ravens Steelers OTL
Out To Lunch

OTL: Steelers Hate Week Finally Upon Us

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, happy Wednesday! It’s not just any Wednesday, however, because the Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers this week! That’s …

Read More →
Street Talk

Here Come the Bengals

The Ravens are going to have to hold off the Bengals over the final five weeks of the season.  The teams are tied for first …

Read More →
Harbaugh WTF OTL
Out To Lunch

OTL: Ravens Too Complacent with Ugly Wins?

Growing up playing a lot of sports, I got used to the concept of carrying bumps and bruises. After particularly rough outings, I might feel …

Read More →
Greg Roman entering M&T Bank Stadium
Street Talk

We All Need to Step it The Flock Up

I’m not here to defend the job performance of Greg Roman. The lightning-rod offensive coordinator has authored some tremendous offensive performances during his tenure in …

Read More →
Street Talk

These Are The 3 Basic Bet Types In NFL

There’s no denying the fact that the NFL is among the most popular sports on the planet. The viewership statistics are there to prove that, …

Read More →
Injury Report

Injury Report: Ravens @ Steelers (Wednesday)

Ravens Did Not Participate: WR Devin Duvernay (NIR-rest); QB Lamar Jackson (knee); CB Marcus Peters (NIR-rest); DE Calais Campbell (NIR-rest); OL Morgan Moses (NIR-rest); G …

Read More →
Out To Lunch

OTL: Steelers Hate Week Finally Upon Us

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, happy Wednesday! It’s not just any Wednesday, however, because the Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers this week! That’s …

Read More →
Street Talk

Here Come the Bengals

The Ravens are going to have to hold off the Bengals over the final five weeks of the season.  The teams are tied for first …

Read More →
Out To Lunch

OTL: Ravens Too Complacent with Ugly Wins?

Growing up playing a lot of sports, I got used to the concept of carrying bumps and bruises. After particularly rough outings, I might feel …

Read More →
Street Talk

We All Need to Step it The Flock Up

I’m not here to defend the job performance of Greg Roman. The lightning-rod offensive coordinator has authored some tremendous offensive performances during his tenure in …

Read More →
Street Talk

These Are The 3 Basic Bet Types In NFL

There’s no denying the fact that the NFL is among the most popular sports on the planet. The viewership statistics are there to prove that, …

Read More →
Don’t Miss Anything at RSR. Subscribe Here!
Latest posts
Join our newsletter and get 20% discount
Promotion nulla vitae elit libero a pharetra augue