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Ravens News 2/2: Plan of Attack and more

Syndication: Palm Beach Post BILL INGRAM /THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK

Harbaugh, Ravens plan on Roman remaining as offensive coordinator - Luke Jones

“Our called run game wasn’t as good this year as it’s been the last couple of years,” Harbaugh said. “Our called run game was the best in history in 2019 and 2020, and this year, it just wasn’t. Why? We didn’t have the explosive plays. We were [highly ranked] in the league in yards before contact, and we were toward the bottom in yards after contact.”

According to Pro Football Reference, the Ravens ranked third in the league at 3.05 rushing yards before contact per attempt, but they fell to 19th at 1.74 rushing yards after contact per attempt. In contract, Baltimore averaged 3.4 rushing yards before contact per attempt (first) and 2.2 rushing yards after contact per attempt (eighth) in 2020. In other words, the absences of Stanley and the rushing duo of Dobbins and Edwards were clearly felt as Alejandro Villanueva filled in for Stanley and veterans Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray took most of the backfield carries.

The Offense, Reason for Alarm? - John Eisenberg

The Ravens haven’t won a game beyond the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs since 2012. It’s fair to scrutinize what they’re doing and want changes.

But I question the need to start over with an offense that consistently moves the ball even in a down year. The Ravens ranked second in the league in time of possession as well as sixth in yards, and that was with many key pieces sidelined. The problem was they couldn’t turn those advantages into points, finishing 17th in scoring.

To me, that sounds like a unit that needs to be methodically altered rather than entirely blown up.

Go to work on that yards/points disconnect. Keep hammering away at a passing game that rose 19 places in the league rankings in 2021, from No. 32 to No. 13.

Change certainly is warranted after the Ravens finished in last place for the first time since 2007. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the defense needing a fresh start with a new coordinator after it gave up so many yards and continually blinked in clutch situations.

The offense needs help, too. But with the ball already moving and so many young playmakers already in place, I’ll take the fixes listed above as the savviest plan of attack.

Five Takeaways From Ravens HC John Harbaugh’s First Postseason News Conference - Bo Smolka

It was poor execution, not Cover-Zero blitzes, that derailed Lamar Jackson and the offense.

Jackson, mentioned as an MVP candidate early in the season as the Ravens bolted to a 5-1 start, finished with a career high in interceptions (13) and sacks (38) despite missing five games. His passer rating of 87.0 ranked 23rd among qualified quarterbacks.

“We thought we were in good shape with some of our drop-back passing stuff, and we just didn’t hit the plays,” [Harbaugh] said. “Sometimes the wrong route was run. Sometimes a guy wasn’t held off long enough on the protection. Sometimes the guy got knocked off his route. There’s always a little thing, but in the end, that’s all execution … and we just weren’t good at handling it.”

He said the Ravens spent considerable time after the Miami game practicing against Cover-Zero pressure, but whether that was misreading a disguised blitz, or failed execution up front or in the pass pattern, offensive rhythm faltered.

“Those are all things that we’ve got to get better at,” he said, “recognizing those things, also beating those things with base plays and just having those answers. … It’s been a priority, but it’s got to show up on the field in execution, for sure.”

Ravens Have Gameplan to Attack Their Offensive Issues - Clifton Brown

Baltimore only reached 30 points once in its last nine games. Meanwhile, more explosive AFC teams like the Bengals, Chiefs, and Bills have displayed how quickly they can score during the playoffs. Led by young quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen, those teams figure to remain lethal offensively for years, posing a potential roadblock to Baltimore’s path to a Super Bowl.

Pass Protection

The Ravens allowed more sacks (57) than any team except the Chicago Bears. They also had the third-most offensive holding penalties with 25. While Jackson and Huntley were occasionally guilty of holding onto the football too long, the Ravens can’t make a dramatic improvement offensively unless their offensive line protects the quarterback better.

Top 50: 2022 NFL Draft prospect rankings 1.0 - Daniel Jeremiah

Trevor Penning

Northern Iowa · OT · Senior (RS)

Penning has ideal size and length for the position. In pass protection, he has average quickness and knee bend, but uses his length to keep defenders away from his chest. That length also allows time for his feet to catch up against edge speed. He’s not always square, but he’s able to run defenders around the pocket. He gives a little ground versus power before settling down. He has excellent awareness vs. twists and stunts. In the run game, Penning has the power to wash defenders down the line of scrimmage. He takes good angles to the second level, but is a little clunky in space. His effort to finish is outstanding in both the run and pass game. Overall, Penning isn’t an elite bender, but his combination of length, strength and awareness is very intriguing.

Charles Cross

Mississippi State · OT · Sophomore (RS)

Cross is a left tackle prospect with ideal size, length and balance for the position. In pass protection, he has average foot quickness and knee bend, but he always stays attached to blocks. He absorbs power rushers after hopping back a few steps. Cross is very aware versus twists and stunts, and he has enough athleticism to slide and redirect to cover up counter moves. In the run game, he doesn’t roll his hips at the point of attack, but stays on his feet and flashes upper torque to turn and dump defenders. He takes outstanding angles working up to the second level. Overall, Cross doesn’t have elite agility or power, but he gets the job done. He should emerge as a quality starter early in his career.