Baltimore Ravens week 5 Q&A: Looking at the big picture
Questions 2 and 3:
@cancelpennies asks: The Ravens don’t play from behind very often but when they do they seemingly panic and lose their identity; do you agree with this sentiment? And if so, do what is your ideal offensive game plan if the Ravens are down more than one possession?
Answer: Well it’s a trend. It’s not a trend that can really be ignored. The Ravens have done it against the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs. They’ve done it more than once with the Kansas City Chiefs. So yes, I believe the Ravens are prone to losing themselves in a big moment, in a big spot, where they are having problems getting anything going early in the game. I think of the Ravens as a light switch kind of team. When they’re on, nobody beats them. When they’re off they don’t know what to do, because they can’t get all their systems online. They don’t know what to do because they expect to do their thing. They expect it because they almost do it. So more than just ideal play-calling is needed. The ideal mindset is needed in the tough spot, down two scores or more.
With that in mind, my ideal play-call doesn’t change by situation, at least not the scoreboard. The very reason the Ravens are good in the first place is that they’re so efficient. They can pick up more with their average run than any team in the league and Jackson is an underrated efficient passer. Greg Roman just needs to keep calling plays like he’s playing the Cleveland Browns in a game where they are cruising ahead.
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Changing the offense for the situation is part of the problem. Changing the approach doesn’t allow you to have confidence in your approach. The Ravens have earned big moments but failed when they have to get over a hurdle. They earned these moments because of their approach. Sticking with their game is the only way to play. Run the ball, get Lamar Jackson in rhythm and the rest takes care of itself.
@NateDaveStew asks: Where do the Ravens need the improvement at this point in the season?
Answer: Pass rush. The Ravens need pass rush that finishes more specifically. Tyus Bowser is having a decent season and has racked up a decent number of pressures. He’s tied with Matt Judon for the most sacks (two) and Judon got both sacks in the same game. The Ravens haven”t been able to get enough pass rush without blitzing and the downside of that was on full display against the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Ravens can’t get more pass rush without blitzing, that’s a problem.
Really, players just need to step up. Bowser needs to finish with sacks at a higher rate. Calais Campbell needs to be better. Derek Wolfe needs to show up. The Ravens need their edge rushers and their interior pass rushers to stand up and get the job done. Don Martindale can keep dialing up pressure, but for the defense to take the next step the Ravens must rush the passer better than they do with a five man rush.