The Baltimore Ravens are entering their bye week off of, quite frankly, an embarrassing loss to the Houston Texans that finally brought out their weaknesses for the world to see. All season we have talked about how much the defense has struggled, more specifically with the run, but let's not forget that the Baltimore offense has only put up 45 total points in three road games this season. So the question must be asked, which side of the football is struggling more?
First we will examine the defense. Baltimore's once feared defense, is anything but right now ranking 26th in the NFL in total defense, a number Ravens fans are not used to associating with Baltimore. So what exactly is going wrong for the Ravens 'D'? Well the most obvious reason that most "experts" give is that they are getting older, more specifically the field generals for the Baltimore defense, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but we are not buying that just yet. Yes they are getting older, and Lewis may be playing his final season, but we do not believe that is the biggest reason they are struggling. The biggest issue for this defense right now is its inability to stop the run. The Ravens have allowed 1,000 yards rushing already this season, the third most in the league. Teams are running at will right now, but the Ravens did get a shot in the arm with the return of Terrell Suggs, as teams were really hurting the defense rushing on the edges and Suggs will have an impact there, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees needs to figure something out to slow down the run because it not only hurts the defense, but the offense as well as Baltimore is consistently getting beat in the time of possession battle. Some people may suggest keeping seven or even eight in the box to slow down the run, well the problem with that is with Lardarius Webb out for the season, the secondary is not in a much better place than the rush defense. Jimmy Smith will have to step up his game, especially after last week's performance against Houston that saw him get dominated by Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter, and no disrespect to Walter who is a solid NFL receiver, but he is no match for some of the guys Smith will have to defend later this season.
Now let's shift to the offense who has become, well a guessing game thus far. It is evident that Baltimore's offense has become a great weapon at home, and a huge disappointment on the road. Let's dive into the numbers for the Ravens 'O'.
Points per game: Home-32.25 Road-15
Total yards per game: Home-421.75 Road-266.33
Joe Flacco passing yards per game: Home-317.75 Road-188.67
Joe Flacco passing touchdowns/interceptions: Home-7/2 Road-2/4
Ray Rice rushing yards per game: Home-70.25 Road-81
Ray Rice rushing touchdowns: Home-5 Road-0
In addition, Flacco has been sacked ten times in just three road games as opposed to eight times in four home games, evidence that the offensive line is struggling on the road as well. What is to blame for this two-faced offense? The no-huddle! It is no secret that an effective no-huddle offense has superb communication, and it is obvious the Ravens offense struggles with that important aspect of the no-huddle, which is evident by the higher amount of sacks, and the countless pass attempts that land no where near a receiver. I am all for giving Flacco more control of the offense, but it is apparent the rest of the offense may not be ready for it. Lastly, I would like to see the Ravens run the ball more, Rice only had nine carries this past week, with almost half of them coming in the first quarter. It is not as though he was not effective either, as he averaged 4.7 yards per carry in those nine attempts, but this has become a pattern for the Ravens offense on the road. It was a blowout, we had to pass the ball, OK maybe in the second half, but in the first quarter when the Ravens had a 3-0 lead, and the ball on their own 25-yardline, they went pass-pass-pass-punt. Not to mention in the second quarter when the Ravens only trailed 16-3, Baltimore threw it on seven straight plays and failed to pick up a first down. Ray Rice needs the football, he is one of the best running backs in the game!
Ravens101 feels that the offense is struggling more because of its severe inconsistency between being at home and on the road, but what do you think? Post a comment stating which side of the ball you feel is struggling more and let the debate begin. One thing is for sure, Baltimore's special teams is dynamite.
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