By Samuel Njoku

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens reacts to a call against the Houston Texans during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Head coach John Harbaugh (Credit, Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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The Baltimore Ravens (2-2) and the Miami Dolphins (3-1) will meet in a Week 5 matchup after suffering disappointing losses last week. For Baltimore, the road ahead has never been cloudier than it is now. The Ravens have plenty of issues and there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix. The glaring issue right now appears to be the running game. And as Coach John Harbaugh pointed out on Monday, it starts with the offensive line.

“The whole O-line is disappointing right now,” stated Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “No one is more disappointed than they are right now. We’ve got to run block better, and we’ve got to pass block better. We felt like we were making strides, especially in the pass-blocking area, and then we really didn’t do as good of a job in this game. We had too many mental mistakes – too many things that are basic protection rules that we understand and we should know – that we did not get on the same page with.”

Harbaugh makes a great point. Though Juan Castillo was brought in last season to help with the offensive line and running game, the Ravens are still using the same blocking scheme from a year ago. This appears to be a case of poor fundamentals and being downright bullied at the point of attack. As the coach pointed out, the play of the O-line affects the pass as much as it does the running game.

“We’ve got to come off the ball in the run game a lot better than we’re doing, and we’ve got to be more physical with the inside part of our pass protection and give Joe [Flacco] more depth to the pocket and keep Joe more clean,” said Harbaugh. “Joe does not need to be under the pressure he’s under.”

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Of course some of the blame must fall on Joe Flacco for the way he’s played so far this season. His decision making has been quite poor these last four games. But as a pocket passer, it is important to feel comfortable in the pocket. That requires trust in the offensive line and trust in his receivers. It’s clear that Flacco doesn’t have much faith in either right now. One of the main culprits of that mistrust is TE Ed Dickson. The third-year tight end was supposed to help alleviate the loss of Dennis Pitta. But so far, he’s merely exacerbated the issue.

“He’s not the same player right now that he was in 2010 “, Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “Ed just needs to go catch the ball. He needs to run fast, get open and catch the football, put it away and get up field. That’s all he needs to do. And if he’s thinking about anything besides that, he’s doing himself a disservice. If he’s lacking confidence for some reason, that’s on him. If you’ve got that kind of talent and those kinds of gifts – go play ball. Go show everybody what you’re capable of doing.”

It’s clear that the Ravens head coach was using the media to send a message to Ed Dickson. In fact, he didn’t hold back on delivering open criticism to himself and the entire team. The Ravens have the talent to get better. They just need to go out there and get it done. They’ll get another chance to prove themselves on the road against the Miami Dolphins.

For more Ravens news and updates, visit Ravens Central.

Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.

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