While the offensive unit has scored enough points for a 2-0 record, it’s clear the Ravens offense has a lot of growing to do. It’s not all bad though.
Now, one thing that can’t be complained about is the design of the offense. The Ravens have gone to a power blocking scheme that is helpful for larger linemen with less foot speed. Due to this, Baltimore’s running game has succeeded during their first two games. They are third in the NFL in rushing yards per game (146.5).
Whether it has been Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Javorius Allen or Alex Collins, the Ravens have shown the ability to run the ball in two games. Teams may now stack the box and that allows for the Ravens to open up the offense in other ways.
Due to their success in the run game, Baltimore’s offense has been effective in executing the play action. On many plays in Sunday’s contest, the Ravens got the ball to their tight ends and receivers off via the play action pass.
Baltimore has also made strides in correcting an offense that saw its quarterback (Joe Flacco) have a TD-INT ratio of 20-15. Flacco has thrown three touchdowns this season and two interceptions.
Both interceptions that Flacco has thrown have been fluky to say the least. Terrance West had a ball bounce off of his hands in the first game and Mike Wallace and Flacco seemed to have some miscommunication on his second interception. Despite this, Flacco seems to be playing within his means and not trying to make too much happen.
Baltimore could improve on many things, however:
It all begins with the offensive line. Baltimore’s offensive line has its work cut out for them with right guard Marshal Yanda sustaining a season-ending injury. Tony Bergstrom is now the Ravens’ starter at Yanda’s old position. He obviously won’t be able to replace him entirely, but he’ll do his best. During week two, Pro Football Focus didn’t like his first reps.
Bergstrom had a grade of 44.7 (poor) in 32 snaps against Cleveland Browns. Baltimore may have to shuffle around their offensive line if that sort of play keeps up. So far, center Ryan Jensen (68.3), left guard James Hurst (63.4) and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (62.6) have all graded out as below average. With Austin Howard (84.6) as the only Ravens offensive lineman that had an above average grade, they need to improve immediately.
The other issue is the play from wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace. In two games, the two have combined for 12 targets, just three receptions for 20 yards and zero touchdowns. To be completely frank, they aren’t getting open and they seem to not be on the same page as their quarterback.
Against the Browns, Perriman had a ball thrown his direction and just dropped it. It was a perfect pass that hit him in the hands. Flacco threw an interception where it looked like Wallace just didn’t finish his route. In addition, Wallace was a non-factor for the rest of the game. Baltimore cannot afford to just have Maclin and their tight ends carry all of the workload on the receiving stat sheet.
Last but not least, is the ability to get the ball downfield. This is a combination of how teams are playing the Ravens and the offense being unable to push the ball deep. The Bengals and the Browns have seen Flacco’s arm strength. They don’t want him to beat them deep, so they leave a safety far off of the line of scrimmage.
To exploit teams deep, Wallace and Perriman have to finish their routes. So far this season, they have not done that. If the two receivers run hard, they could draw the infamous pass interference call. Baltimore hasn’t seen much of that since Torrey Smith. Maybe it’s also due to Flacco making smarter decisions with throwing the ball deep. This season, Flacco averages just 6.8 yards per pass.
These shortcomings are fixable, but it gives them a goal to set. Baltimore is 2-0 against the Browns and Bengals, but against better teams, their offense will get exposed. Baltimore may need to have more protection in the backfield with the likes of Nick Boyle or even use more double tight end formations to help protect Flacco. Matt Skura and Luke Bowanko may eventually replace Bergstrom if he doesn’t improve.
As for Wallace and Perriman, they need to fight for the ball and get open. They have the talent, but if they don’t make the plays, it’ll be a long season for Baltimore’s passing offense.