Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Ravens Lack Run Quality, Not Quantity This Season

October 09, 2018 - 4:20 pm

By Joe Schiller

Through five games this season, the Baltimore Ravens are averaging 94.4 rushing yards per game, good for 25th best in the NFL. That’s far from last year’s total when the run game ranked 11th with 116 yards per game.

The first reaction is to question the Ravens’ run-pass ratio. After all, Joe Flacco threw for a season-high 56 pass attempts in the loss to the Browns.

But not so fast.

The Ravens currently rank seventh in the NFL with 139 rushing attempts. Given that logic, they should be getting much more production from the ground game.

The problem isn’t a quantity but rather quality.

A frustrated John Harbaugh spoke about the topic in his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon.

“You have to do whatever you have to do to move the ball and score points,” he said. “We’ve been doing a pretty good job of that up until this last game. We just need to put more points on the board. Nine points – three, three and three – is tough to win games that way. That’s the bottom line. But this run/pass balance thing, I don’t understand why it’s a topic.”

The schedule can’t be blamed either. None of the Ravens’ first five opponents rank in the top 10 rushing defenses this season. The Bills come the closest at No. 12.

Some of it may be game script and an improved passing offense certainly is a boost, but the run game is still very much a part of the offense. It just isn’t getting the same production.

Alex Collins rushed for 59 yards on 12 attempts against the Browns. His 4.92 average yards per carry in the game was a season-high. But that’s a different stat when you take into consideration his first carry went for 19 yards.

The offensive line plays a large part. Losing Ryan Jensen in free agency, an anchor at center has taken its toll. Matt Skura just isn’t the same player and this is a different unit with James Hurst at right tackle and Alex Lewis slotted in at left guard. It's possible Orlando Brown Jr. could provide a boost given his size.

But the bottom line is that this unit and the overall run game have to better.

Because as great as Joe Flacco is playing so far this season, this has to be a balanced offense across the board.