Ravens slow starts result from problems picking up first downs

Joe Flacco and the offense have had problems picking up first downs and continuing drives, especially early in games. - Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Inability to churn out first downs has led to offensive inconsistency.

In today's NFL, teams need to get out to fast starts, or at least keep pace with the opposition.

That has been a rare occasion for the Ravens this season. In eight games, the Ravens are averaging just 7.9 points in the first two quarters of each game. Twice, the Ravens were able to record 17 points in the first half and are 1-1 doing so (a loss to Denver, a win over Houston).

Conversely, the Ravens have also been held scoreless in the first half twice, the first time against Cleveland in Week 2 and the second time against Green Bay.

It's become a reoccurring theme for the Ravens to play catch-up with those they're competing against.

Earlier this week, Joe Flacco singled out a problem area in these repeated slow starts.

"I'm seeing us not get first downs," Flacco told reporters. "We're just not good enough at converting and putting ourselves in situations where we're fighting a battle that we can win consistently. We're putting ourselves in situations that are tough and are uphill. When you do that, it's tough to get going for an 80-yard drive."

The Ravens rank 25th in first downs per game with just 18.2. The Ravens have been just below average on third downs this season too. They rank 17th in this area, picking up first downs on 38 percent of third-down tries.

Through the final eight games, the Ravens will need to figure out a way to get the offense sparked early.

If not, it could wind up being more of the same.

"We usually come out into the second half and start it pretty well there, but it's just taking us a while to get going early on," Flacco said. "We just haven't been good enough across the board in terms of precision in the passing game and getting the running game going and getting first downs. That stuff leads to first downs. We just haven't done it."


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