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We talked about it last week before the Seahawks game. The Ravens consistency on offense is the key to their success or failure. We’ve seen this time and time again this season, and the Ravens continue to struggle with the same issues.
It’s clear that the Ravens struggle with the 4-3 cover two defenses. They struggled against the Titans, the Jaguars and the Seahawks, and each of those teams use a 4-3 defense. Furthermore, each of those teams used a cover two base defense with tight, press man-coverage on the Ravens receivers.
The Seahawks were being extremely physical with the Ravens receivers, and that has become a definite pattern. The Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers and the Seahawks were all flagged several times for pass interference, illegal contact or holding.
The Ravens opponents would say that the Ravens’ receivers get cheap calls, but the majority of the calls that the Ravens have gotten in the last few games have been legitimate. The fact is that opposing defenses have been playing extremely tight one-on-one coverage with the Ravens receivers and that has led to the penalties.
The point is that defenses are playing the receivers one-on-one and even in key situations, are neglecting to double cover any of the Ravens receivers. That’s because they don’t view any of the Ravens receivers as a legitimate threat and because they are committed to stopping Ravens running back Ray Rice.
Offenses will usually make a defense pay for refusing to double cover any receivers, but aside from a few long catches by Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens have not consistently capitalized on that strategy. Unfortunately, the Ravens receivers have been unable to consistently separate in coverage, and that has been a major problem for the offense.
Another serious problem that showed itself again against the Seahawks is the play-calling. After calling a fantastic game against the Steelers last week, Cam Cameron went back to his questionable play-calling.
The Ravens passed a disproportionate amount of attempts against the Seahawks. Much of the reason for that strategy was because the Ravens were trailing for the entire game, but the biggest problem with the game plan wasn’t that they were passing too much. It’s that they seemed unconcerned with getting into third down and short situations.
The reason that the Ravens were very successful on offense against the Steelers—especially on third down—was because they consistently set themselves up with manageable third down situations. They did that by taking the short completions and runs and whatever the defense would give them.
A dink-and-dunk offense may not be flashy, but it works. With the inconsistency at the receiver position, the Ravens are not going to be very effective completing passes down the field. The receivers aren’t running the best routes are not catching contested passes.
The Ravens need to take what the defense gives them and set themselves up with manageable third downs. They were successful with that type of offense against the Steelers and in the fourth quarter today. Unfortunately, they started too late to do any good against Seattle, but they can learn from this.
If they start games on offense by setting themselves up with manageable first downs and taking what the defense gives, things will begin to open up down the field. They problem is—and has been all season—that the Ravens try to run before they can walk.