Monday, October 29, 2012
Off the bye: Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
Here are three things that the Baltimore Ravens have to change coming off their bye:
1. Get Ray Rice more involved in the offense. The Ravens running back hasn't received more than 20 carries in a game this season. He hasn't been a big part of the passing game, either, with seven catches over the past three games. It's not like Rice is ineffective when he gets the ball. His 4.9 yards per carry is fourth-best among running backs with at least 100 carries. Rice also leads the team in yards after the catch. With Joe Flacco's inconsistency, the Ravens have to go back to their most reliable weapon.
2. Cut down on the penalties. Baltimore is averaging 8.1 penalties per game this season and is on pace to set the franchise record with 1,131 penalty yards. The Ravens are giving up an average of 70 yards per game in penalties. The frustrating part for John Harbaugh is the amount of careless mistakes. In seven games, the Ravens have 12 false starts and two delays of game. It will be tough for Baltimore to overcome this amount of penalties for an entire season with such a hot and cold offense and a banged-up defense. Last season, the Ravens ranked 24th with 5.7 penalties per game.
3. Fix the run defense. The Ravens have ranked in the top five in stopping the run for the previous six seasons. This year, Baltimore has dropped to 30th, giving up 142.9 yards on the ground per game. This run defense, which is now without Ray Lewis, will get tested in the next three weeks against running backs who all gained over 100 yards Sunday: the Browns' Trent Richardson, the Raiders' Darren McFadden and the Steelers' Jonathan Dwyer.