Photo Courtesy: USA Today

NFL Opening Night Showed Baltimore’s Formula

September 07, 2018 - 10:56 am

By Austin Medina   

Is it just me or did the way Philadelphia played on opening night look similar to the Ravens formula?

The Eagles relied on their defense, applying pressure on the opposing quarterback and allowing minimal offense (in exception for the freakish play of Julio Jones). They ran the ball confidently, behind dominating offensive linemen. Although the quarterback play wasn’t great, the Eagles proved that defense and a consistent run game gets victories in the NFL.

This is in no way saying the Ravens are as good as the defending Super Bowl champions. Though with this formula, how far off are they truly?

They defeated the Atlanta Falcons 18-12 in the season opener, in a game that went down to the wire.

Sound familiar?

For years and years, the Ravens history has been synonymous with this formula: stingy defenses and ball possession. Of course in 2012, Joe Flacco produced one of the greatest postseason runs ever. Even still, the quarterback play before and after that postseason has been slightly above-average.

Who can forget Trent Dilfer and the Super Bowl champions in 2000?

The point here is that the Ravens have strayed away from this formula the past several seasons. The run game hasn’t been impressive, as they ranked 18th in the NFL last season in rushing yards. In 2016, the Ravens ranked 28th in rushing yards. We all are aware of the porous passing game.

The defense has remained solid, though mental lapses have caused games as well as playoff berths. Just think back to Week 17 against the Bengals last season.

This season, the Ravens defense looks to be even stronger than last year. Drafting players such as Kenny Young and Anthony Averett add to the depth of Baltimore. They have great run stoppers in Brandon Williams and Willie Henry. Terrell Suggs is a one-man pass rush. The secondary is extremely deep with Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Brandon Carr, making the Jimmy Smith suspension disappointing but a minor hiccup.

The offensive line has improved with the return of Marshal Yanda and the drafting of Orlando Brown Jr., who adds needed depth.

The offense isn’t one-dimensional, as it’s been in the past few years. Of course Coach John Harbaugh wants to run the football. He has a solid committee in the backfield, including Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen. 

The passing game will undoubtedly improve this season, with the free agent acquisitions. Nevertheless, it’s the formula from Thursday night’s opener that the Ravens should get back to. Dominate on both sides of the line. Keep the score low. Chew up the game clock. Most importantly, finish out the game with your strengths: running the football and defense.

The Ravens will look to get back to the formula against the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon.