If the Baltimore Ravens can do these things they can win on Sunday.
1. The Ravens must control the time of possession. As any Ravens fan will tell you, Carson Palmer can be a very dangerous quarterback if he is given the time to throw. He is capable of leading long, sustained drives that can cause wear and tear on a defense,. Especially a defense that has spent the entire first half of the season on their hand and knees begging for something besides a three and out from the offense.
It will be up to Cam Cameron and head coach John Harbaugh to design plays that can keep the offense on field for more extended periods of time. I do believe that running the ball is a key part of that but running the ball straight up the middle time after time behind the weakest links on the line won't do the trick.
The Ravens need to have variance in their running game. They need to fake left and run right . They need to run more to the outside and let Vonta Leach and Ray Rice pick which holes look the best to them. Joe Flacco needs to be able to work his play action off of those running plays in a timely manner and take advantage of a defense with safeties up in the box playing the run.
When was the has time one of those deep bombs to Torrey Smith or Jacoby Jones actually worked? It's been a long time. You know why? Because other teams now expect it and play a safety deep on whatever side they see Torrey line up on. The Ravens need to be a running, ball control offense that has the ability to hurt you in the passing game at any time. Not a passing team that just happens to have an elite running back as well.
I'm sorry but that just doesn't work in the NFL unless you have an Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. I mean look at New England, they know they have an unstoppable passing game but they still realize that they need a strong running game to do any real damage. Are you listening Ravens??? Let's be who we are, not who we think we need to be, because weather they know it or not, WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN WITH WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY. Nothing needs to be changed. Maybe just brought back to what we all know and love.
2. Tackling. The Ravens need to remember how to tackle. Too often have I seen opposing running backs run directly into our defensive line and bounce off to the side for a huge gain.
Hhhmmm. Where is the problem here? Well, first of all our guys up front are being manhandled. By the time the running back hits the scrum he is already a good two to three yards past the line of scrimmage. First and foremost the defensive line needs to stand its ground. Secondly, whether they stand their ground or not, they need to wrap up the ball carrier. Not just bang into him and hope he falls over (or as I like to cal it "Ed Reed" them). So when the ball carrier hits the line he doesn't have a chance to change directions.
I understand though. It's the NFL, the offense gets paid too and sometimes their plays will work. So, then it becomes the job of the outside linebacker/defensive end to protect the corner. You protect that corner and make sure no one, especially the ball carrier has any kind of angle to get to the sideline. Cory Redding and Jarret Johnson had a great understanding of this. The new guys like Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee... well, not so much. That doesn't mean they won't get it though. They might. It is up to the coaches to ingrain this into their brains . in the run game they may be the last line of defense.
Once the ball carrier makes it to the second level he must get wrapped up and tackled though. Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis were two of the Ravens best tacklers. Bernard Pollard is also a good tackler along with Terrell Suggs but for some reason since Webb and Lewis went down the whole team seems to be arm tackling or just launching their bodies at the ball carrier thinking that will bring them down. Well, it's not working so let's go back to what works shall we?
3. Protect Joe Flacco. If Joe Flacco has time to throw he can be as good as anyone in the NFL. He needs that time though. Let's face it, Joe has got a slow release and he needs a little bit of time to go through his progressions but if he is able to do that he will pick a defense apart. A lot of that may have to do with his receivers needing time to get open but whatever the case may be, the bottom line is he needs more time.
There has been much speculation as to which line up is best for the Ravens offensive line but to me and most Ravens fans I think the answer is pretty simple.
From Left to right: Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher. I'd even consider taking Birk out for a younger player just due to the fact that the guy can barely walk. Sure he may be the smartest guy out there but hhe is older than dirt and it's showing up in his play. Wait till he has to face Casey Hampton or Vince Wilfork again.
John Harbaugh talks about having the best five linemen on the field but not once have they actually done so. they have their best left tackle on the bench and are letting Flacco take a beating in his contract year for what reason again??? I hope it's not money related. I truly do
4. I know I said three but I'm on a roll here. I'll keep this last one short and sweet. The Ravens will need to find a way to bring some sort of pass rush. The more games I watch the more I am reminded of the Greg Mattison Era. If Brandon Weeden was any kind of decent NFL quarterback he would have eaten us alive last week. He had all day to throw and guys wide open all over the field.
I don't care if they have to rush five or six every play like Rex Ryan does. Just get to the freaking quarterback before five seconds for once or the team is doomed. Whatever they are doing now just isn't going to cut it. Our stunts are too slow. We have no one with a great spin move and our bull rushes are getting straight up blocked. So, what do we do? Well that means either we need to rush more or cover better.
Do all these things, or even most of them, and the Ravens can stick with and beat anyone in the NFL. Fail at these four items and it will be difficult to beat anyone in the league, unless we get to play Cleveland again this season!