Baltimore Ravens: The Elephant in the Locker Room


The Baltimore Ravens have a glaring problem that will continue to plague them for as long as it goes unresolved, and that’s their lackluster passing game.

The Baltimore Ravens have a glaring problem. There’s no single player or coach to blame for this problem, but it’s a problem that has and will continue to plague the Ravens for as long as it goes unresolved. That problem is the Ravens’ passing game.

The Joe Flacco Factor

If you’re expecting this piece to solely and incessantly chastise Joe Flacco, think again. There are some reasons why the Ravens have failed to pass the ball recently, particularly this season successfully. But the time to appease fans of Joe Flacco is over. It’s now necessary to address his struggles, even if they’re not the sole reasons for the Ravens’ passing woes.

So far during the Ravens’ currently campaign, Joe Flacco has thrown for collective 1,551 yards. That statistic ranks him below the likes of Case Keenum, Jacoby Brissett, and even Flacco’s former backup Tyrod Taylor. It’s needless to say that’s less than impressive, especially for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who’s getting paid to the tune of $19.8 million this season. At this point, it’s entirely fair to say that Joe Flacco is having a downright lousy season.

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But there’s no need to suggest that Flacco should be cut or traded. After all, Flacco’s has been ‘our guy’ for a decade and delivered a world championship to the city of Baltimore. Compound that with the fact that Flacco threw for 4,317 yards last season, which was good enough for seventh in the league, and you’ve got yourself nothing more than a fluke of a season.

Let Joe Flacco Throw the Ball Downfield

Everyone in Baltimore knows that Joe Flacco has a cannon for an arm. Ravens fans have seen Flacco fire the ball down the field time and time again. So why on earth does Flacco have the worst net yards gained per pass attempt in the entire league? The blame for that mostly goes on the shoulders of the Ravens’ coaches.

All too often this season, Joe Flacco has been throwing check-down after check-down with seemingly no drive to complete passes for sizable gains. The fact of the matter is that Flacco can’t throw the ball downfield if the coaching staff isn’t promoting that through play calling. That means more calling passes on first down, sending more receivers split out wide, and devising less predictable and stale routes.

The Banged Up Offensive Line

Injuries, injuries, injuries. They never seem to end for the Ravens, and this year has been no exception. The team suffered a massive blow when Marshal Yanda landed on the Injured Reserve list with an ankle injury. Partner that with the season-ending injuries to promising rookie Nico Siragusa and Alex Lewis and you’ve got yourself a recipe for difficulties.

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But even considering the injuries, the Ravens’ offensive line hasn’t been quite as bad as you may think. The squad has only given up nineteen sacks so far this year, which ranks better than the offensive lines in Detroit, Kansas City, New England, and Green Bay. This doesn’t free the offensive line of responsibility for the Ravens’ passing struggles, but considering the circumstances, there’s more reason to praise this group of guys than anything else.

Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin Must Step Up

Joe Flacco has always thrived when his receivers have beaten secondaries with their speed. Torrey Smith‘s time in Baltimore serves as a great example of this. And when Flacco’s receivers can’t beat secondaries, he’s always counted on them to make big plays in one-on-one coverage. Steve Smith Sr. is perhaps the best example of this in recent Ravens history. But the current Ravens receiving corps is doing neither of those things.

Breshad Perriman, the young stud out of the University of Central Florida who was praised for his blistering speed on draft day, has consistently struggled to catch the ball. Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace often seem nonexistent on gameday, as they rarely have the ball thrown their way.

Not a single Ravens receiver cracks the list of the top thirty receivers in the league in terms of receptions. The only names on that list from Baltimore are Benjamin Watson and Javorius Allen.

Perhaps the poor wide receiver play stems from equally poor play calling. But regardless of the cause, receivers own the burden of getting open one way or another. It’s foolish to think that play calling alone could stymie an entire receiving corps.

The Baltimore Ravens’ receivers just aren’t finding ways to escape their defenders. Veteran wideouts like Wallace and Maclin shouldn’t struggle as mightily as they have to accomplish that goal.

The Solution

The Baltimore Ravens’ passing difficulties stem from a culmination of the factors above. There’s no single party to blame here, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of critical offensive pieces haven’t been solidified yet this year.

The solution to this problem is going to come from a team-wide effort to reconstruct the offensive. The Ravens need to play with a greater sense of urgency and excitement to liven up the pieces of the team that have been slacking.

Joe Flacco has to push the ball downfield instead of consistently relying on his check-down routes. Likewise, the receivers must do their part to give Flacco throwing options immediately after the ball is snapped.

If the Ravens can’t find a way to pass the football efficiently, then they might as well kiss their playoff hopes goodbye right now. Yes, there have been teams that have won Super Bowls without great passing attacks.

The 2000 Ravens were one of those teams. But there’s no record-breaking defense on the other side of the ball this time around, and Joe Flacco should undoubtedly have more expected of him than Trent Dilfer.

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Ravens fans should continue to hope that this coaching staff finds a solution to the mediocre passing game. After all, that’s all fans can do. But hopefully, for Baltimore faithfuls, the Ravens won’t continue to display the same horrendous passing performance every Sunday. Because as we’ve learned so far this season, that’s most definitely a football fan’s form of torture.