Rob Long: The Real Test
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The Baltimore Ravens go into the bye week with a 3-4 record. They are already two games behind the Cincinnati Bengals who lead the AFC North with a 5-2 record. They have a loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers who two weeks ago seemed dead and now, all of a sudden, are just a sniff from getting back into the picture.
If that’s not the worse part of it, the Ravens still seem to be searching for that dreaded identity. Sure, the players and even some fans can deny it, but it seems pretty obvious when you watch them. This team seems to lack rhythm on offense.
Ray Rice used to be their best weapon on offense and now, for some reason, he just lacks the explosiveness and elusiveness that he had just last year. Is it his hip injury or just that his most productive days are behind him? Either way, he’s just not looking like the Ray Rice that we’ve grown accustomed to.
Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are their best weapons on offense right now. Even though they were targeted a total of 14 times, you have to do more to get those guys the ball in space. Maybe a bubble screen or a reverse will help that but you have to do whatever needs to be done to get the ball in the hands of your best weapons and the Ravens don’t do that enough.
The running game was only slightly better and that’s largely because Joe Flacco averaged seven yards on his own and with that, the team averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. Even with different formations to attempt to spread the defense of the Steelers, it seemed to be a difficult task to get anything going in the run game.
The most productive players on this offense, other than Flacco are the wide receivers with the development of Tandon Doss. The Ravens record isn’t good when Flacco throws for over 300 yards this year but they haven’t been able to maintain what you would call a balanced attack either. With a 3-4 record, it seems to be more questions than answers moving forward.
The bye week is upon us and hopefully the coaching staff will find the strengths and weaknesses of their team. So far, we’ve seen the zone blocking scrapped for the “hat on hat” blocking we saw primarily on Sunday. What other changes can we expect? Only time will tell but Ravens fans are hoping that it all leads to more wins.