Aug 16, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks to pass in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens: Both Offense and Defense Raise Concerns

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The Baltimore Ravens’ beat the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night, but the victory created plenty of questions surrounding both the offense and defense.

Joe Flacco and the offense did not even come onto the field until there was less than five minutes left in the first quarter. When the offense finally began to play, they were slow and failed to produce with a couple quick punts.

Slow starts were a problem last season, and in order for Gary Kubiak’s offense to be successful, it cannot become an issue again. Flacco needs to be able to maintain consistency from the beginning of the game.

With a single series in the first preseason game, Flacco and the offense proved to be quick, but after a delayed start Saturday, Flacco did not look sharp at all, which led to the entire offense faltering.

The fourth series showed the promise of Kubiak’s offense with a seven-play drive for 96 yards and a touchdown.

The drive was impressive, and Flacco ended it with a perfect throw to Torrey Smith in the corner of the end zone.

As the preseason progresses, the offense’s identity will better come into light. What this offense can do has been shown in both preseason games, but what can slow it down has also been shown.

If the past is any indication, the third preseason game should give the starters the most playing time, which should shed more light on whether the offense can be consistent or not.

One part of the offense that has been consistent is the running game. Ray Rice left the game with a shoulder injury after just two carries for 21 yards.

Bernard Pierce has shown improvement by rushing seven times for 55 yards with an average of over seven yards per carry.

That said, I would like to see a bit more ball security from the running backs that could replace Rice during his suspension.

With the running backs’ recent success, the Ravens rushed for more than 150 yards for second game in a row, the offensive line has proven it has improved from last season.

There cannot be any doubt that the front line has helped the rushing attack show up on a consistent basis. The ground game was lacking last year, which was a major component in Flacco’s poor performance.

The offensive line’s improvement is one thing the offense should not have to worry about when the regular season comes around. Flacco should feel secure with strong protection in front of him.

The biggest concern comes from the defense. Ladarius Webb has been reported to be out for the rest of the preseason, and Jimmy Smith suffered a bruised chest against the Cowboys, which looked bad when it happened.

Asa Jackson is dealing with an ankle injury, and with all of these combined, the Ravens’ secondary struggled against the Cowboys.

The Ravens need the secondary to be healthy. Once J.Smith left the game, the Cowboys scored a touchdown on his replacement, Dominique Franks. The depth is not as good as the Ravens would hope, and if they do not get healthy, the Ravens’ pass defense is going to struggle.

The rest of the defense has been relatively healthy, but has not shown itself to be the dominant defense the Ravens have been known to have. With the exception of Courtney Upshaw’s fumble return for a touchdown, there has not been a lot of overall promise on the defensive side of the ball.

“There were not many standouts on the defensive side of the ball for the Ravens”

There were not many standouts on the defensive side of the ball for the Ravens.

With the remaining two preseason games, the defense has a lot to work on, especially with the secondary getting healthy. The last thing the Ravens need is to become a good offensive team with no defense.

This is only the preseason, so by no means are these games accurate portrayals of the Ravens’ regular season games. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

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