Sunday wasn't the most abysmal showing from the 2016 Ravens offense, but it was pretty terrible when considering one factor (that factor not being that the bar is incredibly low). That would be the fact that the Ravens simply showed no commitment to the running game, even when early returns on it are positive.
I think the Ravens forgot it was the power run game that led to their only TD drive today.— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) November 20, 2016
The above tweet perfectly encapsulates what has been the main issue with this moribund offense for the entire 2016 campaign. It’s what led to the firing of former offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, and it is now an issue that is plaguing his successor, interim coordinator Marty Morninwheg.
In fact, running backs Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon only combined for a few touches in the second half for what was a largely close game on the road.
Baltimore averaged 6.3 yds/run and only ran the ball 16 times, instead opting to drop back to pass 37 times, with a QB who is struggling... pic.twitter.com/1HyFfXVSM6— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) November 21, 2016
It is the final sentiment of the above tweet that is the most maddening part of an ready frustrating situation.
Quarterback Joe Flacco absolutely has to play better, but when he is struggling like he is now, it is imperative that the offensive staff take a bit of pressure off of him.
On the Ravens first touchdown drive, Flacco was featured very little, and was effective when asked to throw. This led to a 90 yard clock-killing drive that made it look as though Baltimore could be on their way to an upset.
Instead, he was asked to carry the offense in the second half and a combination of poor decisions by Flacco and some terrible offensive penalties completely derailed the team’s chances of winning.
Nobody should stick up for Flacco right now as he is supposed to be the leader of this offense and the best player on it. However, when it is clear that he probably isn't going to step up anytime soon, Morninwheg needs to realize this and focus on giving him as much help as possible.
This starts by sticking with the run game even when it seems futile. Rushing attempts (even less effective ones) are crucial in a game because they help to set up the play action. Flacco loves to throw the ball deep off of play action so it is logical that a commitment to the run will help set that up more.
Even if it doesn't, that commitment is going to be necessary moving forward either way. With a struggling Cincinnati Bengals team coming to town, the Ravens are set up nicely to show a new found commitment to the run game.
If the Ravens don’t, fans should expect more of the same. The same ineffective offense that leads to extreme frustration, that is.