Diagnosing Ravens Problem Areas
Common Sense Football is your go to source for Ravens conversation. This means we are at the center of depressing discourse. That is because the Ravens lost back to back games to divisional rivals. It is important to understand that the sky is not caving in on us, there are 7 more games. The Ravens have no time for sulking; they must diagnose their problem areas and patch up their wounds. In that spirit lets discuss what is going wrong this season. The only way to improve is to truly understand what you have done wrong.
The Ravens got off to a strong 5-2 start. They beat up mostly weaker competition, winning 4 games by 20 points or more. The Ravens have played 3 upper echelon teams, the Colts, the Bengals and the Steelers. In 5 games against these teams, Baltimore has just 1 win. In the 4 losses to strong competition the Ravens had crucial weaknesses revealed.
The offensive line is still a major area of concern. While the running game has been mostly sensational, pass protection has been inconsistent. The Ravens offensive linemen seem clueless when uncovered. The tackles struggle with speed off the edge, something good NFL teams have plenty of.
In the face of pass rush, Joe Flacco has made rather questionable decisions. The Ravens last two losses have seen Flacco interceptions that have cost the Ravens dearly. Flacco is forcing throws and taking unnecessary risks. I am not a Flacco basher; he is a big reason the Ravens have their 5 wins. Criticizing him does not mean that I don’t appreciate him, it means I call him on his faults.
The Ravens have a horrendously thin secondary. There is no depth and injuries at cornerback make it worse. Darian Stewart is clearly not able to be a free safety. Terrence Brooks is clearly not ready for primetime, despite his obvious talent. The Ravens have barely used Will Hill, whose presence could change everything. The free safety play has been terrible and its cost the Ravens games. It is scary to consider how much Jimmy Smith has covered up with his out of this world ability. Without him, teams know that if they can protect the passer, the deep ball is there all day against Baltimore.
The short yardage offense is laughable at best. When Baltimore has a 3rd and short or are going for it on fourth down they have struggled. The Ravens just are not making the big plays right now. The offense is too reliant on rhythm and a fast start. The Ravens defense relies heavily on pass rush. When they don’t win off the edge, the pass rush is not sufficient. The Ravens have a clear formula for success and therefore opponents have a blueprint for beating them.