Here's a great example of how bad the Ravens have been running the ball.
Glancing over the play-by-play sheet, I counted the number of running plays that went for either no gain or a loss that the Ravens had against Green Bay.
Even with how bad they've been, I was somewhat surprised at the fact that Baltimore had 10 rushes for no gain or a loss out of 22 total carries. That number includes a carry from Marlon Brown on a reverse that went for a two-yard loss. Take that, plus a six-yard rush from Joe Flacco, away and both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce totaled nine carries out of 20 for no gain or a loss.
We can all debate which plays or coaching decisions cost this team the game Sunday. But here's your No. 1 culprit. If you can't gain positive yardage on first and second down with the run game, it doesn't matter what you do for the most part.
Those — including myself — that criticized the coaching staff for not running the ball against Buffalo have to at least be cognizant of the fact that without any offensive line changes, personnel wise or schematically, that airing the ball out more might be a direction the Ravens should move in.
"You can't have negative-yard plays in the run game," coach John Harbaugh told reporters Monday. "We had some mental mistakes, some errors that just cost us. You need no runs for negative yards. There has got to be at least a gain of some kind moving forward. We've got to get a lot better at that."
We've been over the offensive line issues for a while now so there's no reason to rehash it. The only thing I'll add is that the Ravens should think about moving back to more traditional blocking, something Harbaugh potentially alluded to during Monday's presser.
When the Ravens brought in run-game coordinator Juan Castillo, he began teaching new techniques and zone blocking principles. Given the only new piece (before Eugene Monroe) added to this year's starting offensive line is Gino Gradkowski, it's evident something's not meshing.
If Gradkowski were getting pushed back repeatedly, it would be a simple fix. He's not. When a proven veteran such as Marshal Yanda is missing assignments and unable to run block like he used to, you have to question the system they're in.
"We're definitely making changes. We're not going to sit there and just stand pat with what we're doing," Harbaugh said. "It may not be visible from the outside looking in, but they're visible to the people we play against, and they're definitely visible to us. We know what changes we're making. So, whether it's personnel changes, or more likely, scheme changes - not major things, just things that will give our guys a better chance to be on the same page - that's what we need to do.
"We've got too many situations where we don't have a hat on a hat. When you don't have a hat on a hat, that's a problem. That's just not acceptable."