The Ravens were lucky to be as close as they were to beating the Patriots on Monday night. Special teams mistakes on the part of New England allowed the Ravens to get back into the game. The defense put together a valiant effort considering Jimmy Smith missed the vast majority of the game and Jerraud Powers missed most of the second half. So what went wrong? Again, it was the offense.
The offense started slow, but was able to pick it up in the second half with two sustained drives, both ending in field goals. Against the Dolphins, the Ravens rolled out their new style of offense, heavily leaning on the pass, and the vast majority of those passes being short outs to the flats. That isn’t going to get it done.
It worked against Miami because the Dolphins completely failed to cover the middle of the field. The Patriots were ready for it however, and stopped it. After coming off an incredible game against Miami, Dennis Pitta only totaled 18-yards. As a whole, Ravens tight ends only gained 36-yards. The Patriots covered the middle of the field and forced the Ravens to look short and to the flat.
Against New England, Flacco averaged 6.2 yards per completion, as opposed to Brady’s 10.7. The Ravens new dink and dunk offense does not produce enough yards per play to move the ball downfield.
But before diving into more negatives of the new style, let’s look at the one positive. Kenneth Dixon has emerged as the go to guy on the offense. Dixon has proven to be both an explosive and productive option for the Ravens, seemingly breaking a tackle every time he touches the ball to pick up extra yards. Dixon had 11 carries, and hauled in eight of 11 targets. Marty Mornhinweg wanted to involve Dixon and has done such.
While Dixon has enjoyed a breakout, the Ravens offense has not proven to have an “it” factor. With a stable of deep threats at his disposal, in the form of Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Chris Moore, big-armed Joe Flacco seemed destined for a big year. But the Ravens have been reluctant to allow Flacco to throw the ball down field. Against New England, Flacco looked downfield to Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr. on consecutive third downs, converting both. Flacco also managed to drop a deep ball right in the bucket to Breshad Perriman despite two defenders in the area, picking up 47-yards. Those plays showed the explosiveness of the Ravens offense. The short dump down passes don’t pick up many yards, they eat time off the clock, and they don’t force opposing defensive coordinators to worry about the deep ball.
The dink and dunk offense largely hurt the Ravens this week. The system did not allow the Ravens to get back in the game once they had momentum going. The time that was eaten off the clock hurt the Ravens as they didn’t allow themselves enough time to get the ball back for one final drive. The new scheme also doesn’t feature the firepower the Ravens have downfield. It is with that explosiveness and firepower that the Ravens offense will be successful. The dowfield passes need to be set up by the running game, not short passes in the flat. Kenneth Dixon proved to be the real deal agaisnt New England, and its time to lean on him as a runner, giving him 18+ carriers per game. If the Ravens establish the run, the 10, 15 and 20 yard passes will become easier, as safeties cheat up to help against the run. Flacco will then be able to find Wallace, Smith and Perriman downfield, and big up big chunks consistently as the Patriots did to the Ravens.
If the Ravens make the playoffs, they will need to be able to keep up with its opponents. Right now, with the dink and dunk system, the offense doesn’t have the capability to.