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

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Philip RiversDec 17 06:13p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (chest, back) took part in a walkthrough Wednesday, Dec. 17, but didn't take part in practice, but he fully expects to play in [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 05:43p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (knee, back) received good news from his MRI results, but he said it would take a miracle for him to play in Week [ More ]

Robbie GouldDec 17 04:53p

Chicago Bears PK Robbie Gould (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Cam NewtonDec 17 04:13p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Frank GoreDec 17 03:13p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) visited with a doctor at the team's facility Tuesday, Dec. 16, as part of the NFL's concussion protocol. Gore did not participate [ More ]

Ryan MathewsDec 17 02:33p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

C.J. SpillerDec 17 02:13p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Blake BortlesDec 17 01:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) was limited during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, and is listed as questionable for Week 16.

Julio JonesDec 17 01:43p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, Dec. 17.

DeMarco MurrayDec 17 01:33p

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) wasn't expected to do a lot at practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, but he took first-team snaps at running back [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 17 01:23p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) returned to practice Wednesday, Dec. 17, and he worked with the second-team offense in the portion of practice open to the media. QB [ More ]

DeMarco MurrayDec 17 12:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is participating in individual drills during practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

T Y HiltonDec 17 12:23p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating during the media-access portion of practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Rashad JenningsDec 17 11:23a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) will not participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Keenan AllenDec 17 11:03a

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone, ankle) said he is taking his injuries 'week to week.'

Denard RobinsonDec 17 10:13a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson (foot) has a partially torn ligament in his foot, according to head coach Gus Bradley. Recovery time is six to eight weeks, but he [ More ]

Marc TrestmanDec 16 09:33p

The Chicago Bears are expected to fire head coach Marc Trestman, according to a source. The team's ownership met Tuesday, Dec. 16, after the team's Week 15 loss against [ More ]

Julio JonesDec 16 09:33p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is expected to be ready to play in Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints. However, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter indicated the possibility [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerDec 16 06:43p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger (shoulder) missed practice for the second straight day Tuesday, Dec. 16.

DeMarco MurrayDec 16 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) will likely be a game-time decision against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, according to owner Jerry Jones. Jones said the team is [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 16 05:33p

Denver Broncos TE Virgil Green continued to lead the team's tight ends in snaps with 50 in Week 15 against the San Diego Chargers, even with TE Julius Thomas [ More ]

Aaron RodgersDec 16 05:23p

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is 0-2 with a 35.6 total quarterback rating at Tampa Bay in his career. He threw three interceptions in each of those games.

Blake BortlesDec 16 04:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) was jogging, throwing and moving around well while being limited at practice Thursday, Dec. 16. He showed no signs of being limited by [ More ]

Colt McCoyDec 16 04:23p

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (neck) was told by doctors that he only needs two to three weeks for the aggravated nerve in his neck [ More ]

Keenan AllenDec 16 04:13p

Updating a previous report, San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) could be placed on Reserve/Injured if the team is eliminated from playoff contention. Allen will not play this [ More ]

Ryan MathewsDec 16 02:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Colt McCoyDec 16 02:33p

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy (neck) was placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Keenan AllenDec 16 02:33p

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (collarbone) suffered a broken collarbone in Week 15 and is not expected to play this week. Surgery is not planned at this point [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group