Posted September 30, 2013

Joe Flacco’s turnovers, nonexistent run game leave Ravens looking for answers

AFC North, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice has yet to reach 100 yards rushing for the season.

Ray Rice has yet to reach 100 yards rushing for the season. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Ray Rice was stuffed for no gain on a carry with 4:29 left in the second quarter on Sunday. The Ravens did not run the ball again until the 4:50 mark of the fourth quarter, some eight possessions later.

Was that extreme shift toward Joe Flacco and the passing game a move of necessity — one forced by Baltimore trailing Buffalo from the early stages of a 23-20 loss? Or was it a more damning indictment of larger problems: Ray Rice’s health, the Ravens’ offensive line and the play calling in general?

Those are questions the Ravens will find themselves wrestling with between now and next Sunday, when the defending champs take their 2-2 record to Miami.

“We’re definitely going to get better,” Flacco said. “We have to get better. A lot of that falls on me.”

Flacco’s right there. He endured a miserable afternoon against a battered Buffalo secondary, which was missing safety Jairus Byrd and CBs Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. Flacco threw a career-high five interceptions (he had just one previous game with more than three), leading to 13 Buffalo points. His final miscue came on a tipped ball with Baltimore driving for a tie or win late, with rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso diving for his second INT of the game.

Rice, whose status for this game was up in the air all week after he sat out last Sunday, saw all of five carries for 17 yards in the game. His backup and Week 3 replacement starter, Bernard Pierce, gained seven yards on four rushing attempts.

Add it up, and the Ravens ran the ball nine times compared to 50 throws for Flacco — against a Buffalo team that entered this week giving up more yards on the ground than everyone but Jacksonville.

“We’re not running the ball well,” was coach John Harbaugh’s explanation for the Ravens’ two rushing attempts after halftime.

That hardly feels like an adequate enough explanation, though Baltimore’s continued struggles to move the football with its backs surely is of growing concern. After running for more than 1,900 yards last season, the Ravens’ ground attack has yet to top the century mark in a game in 2013.

Stuck in a one-dimensional offensive hole, the Ravens have had to place more pressure on Flacco and their defense to get the job done early this year. The D attempted to do its part Sunday, forcing three Buffalo turnovers (and nearly a fourth late, which would have set Baltimore up in the red zone, down by three). But even that unit will leave Buffalo with questions, courtesy of the 203 yards the Bills piled up on the ground.

Of course, were it not for the Ravens defense, this might be a 1-3 or 0-4 team. Baltimore allowed just 15 points total over the past two weeks, in squeaking by Cleveland and pummeling the Texans.

The offense has yet to get anything figured out. Even in that 30-9 rout of Houston, Flacco’s group mustered a mere 236 yards, with the defense and special teams chipping in a touchdown apiece.

The losses this offseason on that side of the football were much talked-about: Dennis Pitta to injury, Anquan Boldin to a trade. There certainly were enough questions among the remaining depth chart to leave Ravens fans a little concerned heading into 2013.

No one could have imagined Baltimore’s offense slumping to this degree, mainly because of the Rice-Pierce combo in the backfield. But Rice has yet to top 36 yards rushing in a game this season (he hit that mark exactly in both Weeks 1 and 2), while Pierce is now averaging all of 2.7 yards per carry.

As a result, there is plenty of blame to go around in Baltimore. As Harbaugh summed up succinctly on Sunday: “We didn’t play well at all.”

15 comments
Whatever
Whatever

Definitely an O line problem. You don't have two RBs running so poorly without poor blocking, particularly when one is Ray Rice. Obviously only running the ball 9 times in a game isn't going to help your RBs or O line get into a rhythm either.

Stewart3
Stewart3

Flaco doesn't care, he got the big contract and now his team is paying the price of having to let people go to pay for it


NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

Someone on this board will soon suggest the Ravens replace Flacco with Tebow.

AnnabelLee
AnnabelLee

Flacco's salary this year is $6.8M.  Look it up instead of shooting from the mouth.    O-line is overpaid and under-producing.   If you don't like Flacco fine, but enough of the clown comments about him being overpaid.

Plainview
Plainview

While Flacco is overpaid, this game is definitely not his fault.  His top receiver is a serviceable #2, and after that his WR corps is in shambles.  Running game = terrible.  Worst I've seen from a ravens team ever these past 2 weeks. 

If there is one segment of the team to blame for how the ravens are playings, its the offensive line. 

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

That contract may not be looking so good for the Ravens

joe6647
joe6647

Brady's WR core is worse than Flacco's.  Flacco gets paid the big bucks to make those around him look better.  He shouldnt need "great" talent around him at this point.  He should elevate others around him

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@JimKirkwood1 It didn't look good before he signed it.  It was wrong even with his post season run last season.  So he played a few good games in a row.  Look at his career stats over all of his games and see if he's worth $20 million a yr.

"We" value the post season too much when the player plays well or bad and they are rewarded or punished way too much based off such a small sample size.

I know everyone doesn't like all the different stats out there but for what they are worth.

Last season, ESPN's total QBR rating ranked Joe Flacco as the 24th best QB in the league last yr.

Peyton, Brady and Rodgers were all in the top 4.

Flacco was around 15th in QB rating last yr.

Plainview
Plainview

@joe6647 joe, I agree with you to an extent regarding Brady's receivers, but Flacco is not Tom Brady.  I agree that Flacco is overpaid.  

The Ravens #1 receiver Torrey Smith is better than Edelman, but after that the Ravens receiving corps is the same.

 However, you did fail to mention the run support Brady had: top two RBs for the Patriots had 20 carries for 117 yards.  Almost 6 yards a carry.  This "elevate others around him" works both ways. 

Ravens had 9 carries for 24 yards. 

EdStephens
EdStephens

@joe6647 I agree with you 100%. They should have offered Joe 12mil a year and if he walked they could have beefed up the defense and kept Boldin and gotten Tyrod some more receivers. They need to start pulling Flacco and let Tyrod give the Ravens a little more versatility at quarterback. Joe is like a giraffe with the reaction time of a sloth. If guys are covered get rid of the ball versus taking a sack, you know, like the other guys making 20 mil a year.

EdStephens
EdStephens

@Sportsfan18 @JimKirkwood1 I agree 100%. The Ravens are screwed until they can get him off the books. I lost total respect when he fleeced the Ravens for all that money when the whole team stepped up and elevated him during the playoff run.

EdStephens
EdStephens

@Plainview @EdStephens @joe6647 Joe's accuracy is none too good either, just look at his stats from last year. His receivers and falling down defenders made him look great in the post season.

Plainview
Plainview

@EdStephens @joe6647 Ed, Flacco threw the ball away 4-5 times in that game.

 And going to some kind of wildcat is not a good decision.  Tyrod is decent, but his accuracy is poor.