Baltimore Ravens Week 7 – Good Time for a Bye Week


Nov 3, 2013; Cleveland … Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown (14) scores a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


(Note – Written by staff writer Aaron Hopkins after week seven, this article appears on this new Baltimore Wire blog on the blog’s opening day – 11/13/13 – to populate the site immediately and give new readers a sense of what this coverage will be like.)

Things are looking clearer after seven weeks of football.  The Ravens have been struggling this year; and we’ll take a look through the seven week lens at why they’ve looked so bad, and perhaps what they can do about it.

Losing to everyone except the Browns and the Dolphins is not a good sign.  Mostly to blame for these losses is the lack of a running game and the inability to stop the run.  Injuries have certainly played a major role in the lack of a running game for the Ravens.  Kelechi Osemele, Marshal Yanda, Ray Rice, and Bernard Pierce are all banged up.

But the glaring hole in the offensive line left by Matt Birk is a huge one.  Gino Gradkowski has been trying, but not doing well.  At this point he is one of the worst-rated offensive linemen in the NFL.

But it’s not just Gino.  Everybody has struggled.  McKinnie was so bad that he was flat out traded, and the Ravens got a huge boost from the new tackle from Jacksonville Eugene Monroe (a great move by Ozzie Newsome).  Michael Oher is still drawing penalties on a regular basis.

I think most of these problems on the offensive line can be solved.  If time heals all wounds, then a bye week should do nicely.  You’ll also notice that the Ravens changed their game plan offensively against the Steelers this past week.  While that did not produce huge numbers on the ground game, what happened was a bit surprising.

Matt Vensel from the Baltimore Sun highlighted several things from the Steelers game.  Going with a spread offense to create some mismatches up front, the Ravens lined up in the shotgun formation 47 times (Flacco was under center just 16 snaps).

Over the past month the Ravens ran the ball mostly for losses or one-yard gains – only to then watch them fail from third and long has been so painful. Last week, Joe Flacco began to work from his comfort zone in the shotgun that resulted in only one three and out.  They picked up 10 first downs in seven possessions!  Combine that with one more surprise…NO DROPS.  No drops, no interceptions.  What?!

In the beginning of the season, most NFL experts were saying that losing Anquan Boldin was going to really hurt the Ravens. As John Eisenburg noted the Ravens’ new receivers have averaged more yards and touchdowns than Boldin over in San Francisco.  In fact he said that, “The Ravens’ wideouts caught 63 passes for 1,078 yards in the first six games last year, and this year, they’ve caught 76 for 1,199 yards.”   Now all they have to do is punch it in the end zone.

Although the offense did some good things, it was the defense who lost the game for the Ravens last week.  Allowing the Steelers to rush for 141 yards is not going to win games.  All the defense had to do was keep the Steelers offense from getting into field goal range and overtime would have ensued.  But they couldn’t. What seemed to be a strength has kind of faded the past few weeks.

The front line of the Ravens should be dominating.  At times we’ve seen it, but not consistently.  Once again injuries have played a part in the struggles, but in the NFL these things aren’t applied as excuses.

Hopefully the defensive schemes will be adjusted.  Haloti Ngata was double-teamed all day last Sunday.  He is a major force inside, but the Steelers were able to run too easily.  The front seven struggled with Arthur Jones, Jameel McClain, Terrell Suggs, and Courtney Upshaw all getting negative scores on the run defense from Pro Football Focus.

Giving up 730 rushing yards in seven games?  Not a recipe for success.  Let us wait out the bye week and see what happens against the Browns.  The Ravens need a break and a win.