Perhaps the most worrisome observation most fans make when watching the Ravens play is the noticeable loss of identity on the part of the offense.
Part of the “identity crisis” going on in Baltimore can be attributed to the struggles the team has had in the running game in 2010, and the new commitment offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has made to stick with a physical “run first” philosophy.
In 2009, RB Ray Rice finished second in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage, only a few yards shy of Tennessee’s RB Chris Johnson.
However, Baltimore’s front office made it clear before the start of the 2010 season that the team had to surround third-year QB Joe Flacco with higher caliber wide receivers. This led to the acquisition of Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth.
For one reason or another, teams like Cincinnati and Miami, who also added high-profile receivers to their rosters in the offseason, have struggled mightily to establish any sort of consistency on offense.
Cameron and Co. did right by Baltimore in surrounding Flacco with better receivers. However, it usually takes time for new quarterback-receiver relationships to develop, which is why WR Derrick Mason is still Flacco’s favorite target on the field.
What Cameron must do is stick to what works best. As we witnessed in Houston on Monday, now is not the time to revert to a style of offense you haven’t been running all season.
The Ravens also featured a “new look” offensive line during Monday night’s game against the Texans. Right tackle Oniel Cousins replaced Marshal Yanda, who moved over to right guard—his normal position.
With TE Todd Heap still sidelined with a hamstring injury, right guard Chris Chester will likely serve in a blocking role similar to what Heap provided when healthy.
All of these changes might be for the better, but any time you move players out of their usual roles, a readjustment period always ensues. With the Ravens fighting to maintain their current standing in the playoff race, now is not the time to tinker with different packages on the offensive line.
Besides, more attention should be directed towards left tackle Michael Oher, who seems to miss key assignments during crucial moments of football games—most recently in Houston, where he allowed two sacks on Flacco because of mental lapses.
After watching Monday night’s performance on the part of Cameron and the Ravens offense, returning to what Baltimore used to be offensively is simply not a smart idea.
Cameron must roll with the changes Baltimore made during the offseason, and learn to coach with a certain level of aggression we have yet to see this season.