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Stop Making Joe Throw 50+ Times

October 10, 2018 - 8:22 pm

By Alex Woodward

The Ravens handed the Browns their first win on a Sunday since 2016 last weekend in an ugly 12-9 overtime loss. It was a winnable game and there were multiple things that led to the loss but it's impossible to look at the run/pass ratio without any concern.

Baltimore hasn't scored a touchdown since their dominant first quarter against the Steelers and it's no coincidence that they haven't been able to run the ball either.

In their 2 losses this season, Joe Flacco has thrown 50+ times and they have given their running backs 20 carries or less. The team is now 3-12 all-time when Flacco throws 50 or more passes a game and that stat isn't going to get better if they ignore this trend. The league may be shifting to a more pass-heavy attack but Joe Flacco isn't the type of QB that should be chucking it 50 times a game. He has always thrived off of play action and bootlegs. Now, he has more receiving weapons than recent years and he's healthy enough to be mobile again. So why not set the tone with the running game?

As I mentioned, the Ravens haven't scored a touchdown since the first quarter of the Steelers game. To be more specific, they haven't seemed to have faith in the running game since Alex Collins fumbled for the second time this season on the goal line. How much of an impact did that fumble have on the Ravens confidence in handing the ball off?

Collins did lead the team with 12 carries last week for 59 yards (4.9ypc) but Buck Allen nearly doubled his snap count. It's not like the Ravens were getting blown out on Sunday so there is no excuse for the discrepancy in snap counts between the two and there is no excuse for not trying to run the ball more. It was working...until they stopped trying.

I'm not saying Collins needs to be the bell cow because it is apparent that he still has trouble holding onto the football. He is the most explosive back out of the backfield though and a few more touches for both he and Buck Allen per game could go a long way for this offense. Last week the Browns didn't worry about the run and played 1-on-1 with the Ravens receivers, daring them to beat them outside the numbers. With a more concerted effort in the run game, they could have ran more play actions and bootlegs to try and expose those 1-on-1 matchups and open up the middle of the field. Instead they decided to let Flacco stand back there and force feed balls to John Brown.

John Harbaugh scoffed at the notion this week when asked if the run/pass ratio was a problem last week (57 passes to 25 rush attempts) but it doesn't take a veteran football coach to realize when teams can predict what you are doing, it makes it harder to succeed.

Lamar Jackson has been used in the run game and has yet to be efficient. Why? Predictability. Almost every time Jackson lines up under center, it's almost a sure thing he will be running an option and most times he keeps it and runs. It won't work if the team is thinking run every time they see him on the field. Last week, they finally let Lamar throw the ball (1st pass attempt since mop-up duty against the Bills in week 1) which resulted in an incompletion but if he's on the field you have to mix things up. I hope they continue to let him throw it once in awhile and I would like to see him lined up at different parts of the field more often as well.

I'm looking for the Ravens to find more balance this weekend against a Titans team that has given up the 7th most rushing yards in the NFL. Through 5 weeks, the Ravens have the 7th most rush attempts but have averaged the 3rd lowest yards per carry rate. Is it a talent issue or a scheme issue? My belief is the latter. Whether it is the predictability when Jackson is on the field or the offensive line not getting off on their blocks. Adjustments need to be made moving forward.

Hopefully they can right the ship this Sunday in what could turn out to be a pivotal matchup with the Titans. With a loss on Sunday, the team will fall to 3-3 ahead of a tough slate of matchups with the Saints, Panthers, Steelers and Bengals. 

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