For the second week in a row, the Ravens were dominated. There is a lot of blame to be dished out, and there is no one place that it should all go. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was not pleased with how his team played, and was quick to praise the Steelers in a press conference on Monday.
Harbaugh: "I don't think we executed well enough to win the game yesterday. Pittsburgh outplayed us and outcoached us."— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) October 2, 2017
Harbaugh said that his team was “outplayed” and “outcoached” by the Steelers. In addition, he said that his team didn’t execute well enough to win.
The poor execution goes all around. It is both the players on the field that executed poorly as well as the coaches on the sidelines.
The offense was unable to move the ball throughout the majority of the game, which led to the defense being on the field for extended periods. Pittsburgh had 35:29 minutes of possession as opposed to the Ravens 24:31. When the defense is on the field for so long, it’s unfair to expect them to play at a high level the entire time. Plus, without Brandon Williams on the field, it was easier for the Steelers to run the ball, and as the game went on, the Ravens defense wore out.
At the end of the day however, it is really the offense that should be getting the bulk of the blame. The offense especially executed poorly. The offense line was awful, which led to a running game that did nothing. Joe Flacco had a poor game, highlighted by missing a wide open Breshad Perriman on a play that would have been a touchdown. But the Ravens quarterback didn’t get much help from his wide receivers, whether it be an inability to get open, or brutal drops. For the second week in a row, the offense showed no signs of life. Flacco was better than against the Jaguars, but not by much, and that’s saying something. However, for as bad as the offense executed, the play calling was worse.
Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has kept the same short pass plays in his playbook that didn’t work last year, and unsurprisingly, they still aren’t working this year. The Ravens always say after poor offensive performances that they need to go back to the tape and fix the problems. But they never actually fix the problems. The problem, in addition to poor execution, is poor play calling. Whether it’s throwing the ball significantly short of the sticks on third down nearly every time, or throwing the ball over the middle of the field for a six yard dump off with less than a minute to go in the half and only one timeout, Mornhinweg has done an awful job calling plays for this offense.
I tend to consider myself a believe in continuity, but in the Ravens case, continuity has only made matters worse. The Ravens need to find someone who can create the best scheme to fit the players that the Ravens have, and Marty Mornhinweg is not that person.
So all in all Harbaugh is correct. The Steelers did outplay the Ravens, but the coaching difference was much more notable. The Steelers targeted the Ravens weaknesses, while the Ravens continued to use the same schemes the don’t work over and over. Until the Ravens truly take some accountability and actually try to fix the problems, don’t expect this offense to get much better any time soon.