2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Ravens' running game needs improvement

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-30 17:28

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - John Harbaugh knows the Baltimore Ravens must improve their running game if they are to reach the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

Against Buffalo on Sunday, however, Harbaugh was convinced Baltimore couldn't win by rushing the ball. So he called upon Joe Flacco to throw on virtually every play.

Flacco attempted 50 passes, at one point on 31 consecutive offensive plays. In contrast, the Ravens (2-2) had a franchise-record low nine rushing attempts, just two after halftime, in a 23-20 defeat.

``I just felt like we weren't running the ball well enough to win the game,'' Harbaugh said Monday. ``Looking back on it, I feel the same way. No second-guessing myself on that. That was my decision, and that's the way we went with it. If you feel like we should have run the ball more in the second half, then I definitely respect that opinion, but it didn't look that way to me.''

Baltimore finished with 24 yards rushing and Flacco threw five interceptions. That's five more pickoffs than he had in four playoff games last season during the Ravens' run to a Super Bowl victory.

But Flacco doesn't deserve all the blame for the stunning loss to the Bills. He was sacked four times and under pressure throughout the afternoon.

``When you're hurried through your progression, or you can only get through one or two aspects of your progression and you don't have a chance to let things develop, then you've got to push the ball somewhere pretty quickly before the route develops,'' Harbaugh said.

Running back Ray Rice returned from a hip injury that kept him sidelined one week earlier, but that's not why the running game was so pitiful. There's plenty of blame to spread around on an offense that has yet to produce 100 yards rushing in any game this season.

``We've just got to become maybe a bit more physical, maybe mix it up a little bit more early on,'' Flacco said. ``We get some of our passing game going and we can get on top of those runs. We are just not good enough right now, I guess. That is probably the simplest explanation.''

It can't continue. Not if the Ravens intend to get some separation between themselves and the rest of the mediocre AFC North.

``We have to become a good run-the-ball football team,'' Harbaugh said. ``We need to be physical up front, and that needs to be evident in the way we play. Altogether, we've got to work on getting there, and that's what we'll do.''

This is the same offensive line that played in the Super Bowl, with one notable exception. Second-year center Gino Gradkowski has taken over for Matt Birk, who retired after the 2012 season. Gradkowski calls the blocking assignments on the line, and at this point, well, he's no Matt Birk.

``We're feeling that in there right now,'' Harbaugh said. ``Gino is a really smart guy, but Matt had been at it for a lot of years. So, that's something that we're working through.''

And it's only part of the problem.

``The rest of the offensive line, we've just got to get better,'' Harbaugh said. ``We've got to come off the ball in the run game a lot better than we're doing, and we've got to be more physical with the inside part of our pass protection. Joe does not need to be under the pressure he's under. ``

Rice proved more effective at pass blocking than running the ball.

``It's hard to run the ball when you get behind, so I just played my role and tried to protect Joe and keep him upright,'' he said.

The Ravens next face unbeaten Miami (3-0) on Sunday.

``We haven't played well on the road, twice now,'' Harbaugh said. ``We've got to figure that one out this week. We hope that by the end of the year, we have a good track record playing on the road. That's going to be the goal and we've got to get past that.''

On the positive side, Baltimore shares first place in the division with Cleveland and Cincinnati.

``It's a consolation, no doubt,'' Harbaugh said. ``Here, we sit, tied for the lead in our division with a tiebreaker on Cleveland.''

On the injury front, Harbaugh said wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) should return to practice this week, and wide receivers Marlon Brown (hamstring) and Deonte Thompson (concussion) should be OK for Sunday.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Miles AustinMar 30 05:32p

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, March 30. The deal is worth $2.3 million with $700,000 available in incentives, according to a source.

DeMeco RyansMar 30 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles') said he will be ready for training camp in July after coming back from his second torn Achilles' tendon since 2010. He will [ More ]

Michael HillMar 30 05:02p

Free-agent RB Michael Hill (Colts) signed an undisclosed deal with the Washington Redskins Monday, March 30.

Demaryius ThomasMar 30 02:12p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas will not be present at the Broncos' offseason program or attend workouts with QB Peyton Manning at Duke University. Thomas is currently in Los Angeles for a charity event.

Jordan TodmanMar 30 01:42p

Free-agent RB Jordan Todman (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Monday, March 30. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Miles AustinMar 30 11:42a

Free-agent WR Miles Austin (Browns) will likely sign with the Philadelphia Eagles this week if all goes well with his physical, according to a source.

R. Griffin IIIMar 29 07:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will be the first-team quarterback during offseason workouts, according to head Jay Gruden, but Gruden also said he expects QB Kirk Cousins and [ More ]

Stevan RidleyMar 29 10:12a

Free-agent RB Stevan Ridley (knee) is scheduled to meet with a few teams this week. Ridley is expected to receive full medical clearance in around six weeks.

Andre EllingtonMar 27 07:52p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington, who averaged 20.6 touches per game in 2014 before being injured, won't have his role reduced in 2015, according to head coach Bruce Arians. [ More ]

C.J. AndersonMar 27 07:32p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, who finished 2014 with 648 rushing yards in the last six games, will enter the 2015 season at the top of the running back [ More ]

Jonathan MartinMar 27 04:32p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27.

Alan BallMar 27 03:02p

Free-agent CB Alan Ball (Jaguars) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jarrett BoykinMar 27 02:12p

Free-agent WR Jarrett Boykin (Packers) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Friday, March 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nick FolesMar 27 01:22p

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said it's the team's intention to draft a quarterback in this year's draft, despite trading for QB Nick Foles in the offseason. [ More ]

Dont'a HightowerMar 26 08:02p

New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder) will miss six to seven months after undergoing surgery on a torn right labrum. Hightower's availability for the beginning of the regular [ More ]

Brian QuickMar 26 06:52p

St. Louis Rams WR Brian Quick (shoulder) is making progress in recovering from a torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder he suffered last October. Head coach Jeff Fisher has [ More ]

Jay CutlerMar 26 06:32p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will head into the offseason as the team's No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but head coach John Fox said there will be [ More ]

Danny LansanahMar 26 05:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah signed his one-year tender Thursday, March 26.

Jonathan MartinMar 26 04:52p

San Francisco 49ers OT Jonathan Martin was waived Thursday, March 26.

Pat SimsMar 26 04:22p

Free-agent DT Pat Sims (Raiders) signed an undisclosed deal with the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday, March 26.

Victor CruzMar 26 01:32p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) 'looks really good and light,' according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz started running last week six months after he tore the [ More ]

D. Heyward-BeyMar 26 11:52a

Free-agent WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Steelers) re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday, March 26. Heyward-Bey signed a one-year deal with the team, but financial terms were not disclosed.

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group