Seven Games - Seven Observations

After seven games, there are several trends I have noticed and some unresolved questions I have that I would like to share. Since the defense has been playing at championship caliber, naturally these all revolve around the offense, which so far has been inconsistent at best. This is not a Cam or Joe Must Go discussion, but rather what can the Ravens do from here on out to get the most out of their offense with what they have. I respect and value the opinions of the folks here and would appreciate your feedback and insights on these topics and any others you might care to add.

1. Finally, the two TE spread formation. Yesterday, the Ravens ran a 4 receiver set with Boldin, Smith, Dickson and Pitta almost exclusively during the second half. Since draft day 2010 many of us have been pleading to see this, and it proved to be much more effective than using LaQuan or Reed as the 3rd receiver. Is this the look we should be running more in the future?

2. That said, Dickson needs to go up stronger for balls in contention. Several times this season he has passively waited for the ball to land in his hands rather than aggressively attacking it. This lets a DB get his hands in there and knock the ball away. With his size, Dickson needs to come back and attack or high point the ball.

3. Screen Pass? During the past several games, opposing D’s are seemingly reading our screens way too easily and have it completely covered. Either we are tipping the play or other teams are "spying" Ray Rice which causes a LB to be there and blow up the play. If the other team is taking him away on the screen, why not send Rice out one way and run a TE screen the other way?

4. Ray Rice coming out of the backfield on a circle route is almost unstoppable. Not even a spy LB is going to cover Rice running full stride over the middle. Cover him with a safety and you create 1-on-1 mismatches at WR or TE. Not sure why we don’t run this play more often, especially to counter blitzes.

5. Pass Interference? I know this is a somewhat subjective call, but doesn’t it seem like the Ravens receivers can get mugged past the 5 yard bump zone without getting a PI call, while our DBs get called for breathing on the opponent’s receivers? I didn’t get to see a very good replay on either Cary’s or Webb’s PI calls at the game yesterday, but neither appeared to be very good calls watching live.

6. Underthrow the long ball? Flacco tends to overthrow his receivers on the long ball 3 out of 4 times. Maybe the receivers are getting held up (see PI above) or he is just trying too hard to make the "perfect pass". But when your tall receiver is beating his man 1-on-1, wouldn’t it be better to slightly underthrow him? The receiver sees the ball first and has the advantage adjusting to the ball (or drawing PI) while the beaten defender has his back to the ball trying to catch up. Seems like better odds making that play than trying to put the ball than put the ball in the perfect spot out front where only the receiver has a chance to catch it.

7. West Coast Offense? Before yesterday I didn’t think Flacco would do well in a West Coast Offense. My flawed logic was that his arm strength fit better in a vertical game and his accuracy on shorter timing routes was just not good enough. But in the 2nd half yesterday, Joe excelled in the shotgun and making quick reads and short throws. Should we be playing more spread offense to alleviate an apparently weak O-line?

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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