2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Flawed Ravens seek answers after dropping to .500

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-14 17:22

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - The Baltimore Ravens have identified the long list of problems that have contributed to their poor start.

Their task now is correct those flaws before it's too late to salvage what has become a trying season for the defending Super Bowl champions.

After losing two of three - including Sunday's 19-17 defeat at home against Green Bay - the Ravens at .500 after six games for the first time since 2009. Their running game is ineffective, they're having trouble protecting quarterback Joe Flacco, they're starting slowly in games and struggling on first and second downs.

Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged the issues on Monday.

``There are plenty of specific things that we need to do differently, or we need to do better,'' he said. ``We're going to find our way into our run game. This is a process; we're fairly early on. I would have sure liked for it to happen sooner. Thought it would. But that doesn't mean we're not going to keep going after it. And that's not just the run game. It's everything we do, all three phases.''

The biggest and most perplexing problem is Baltimore's inability to gain yardage on the ground. The Ravens could muster only 47 yards rushing against the Packers and have eclipsed 100 yards only once.

``Nothing's simple, but it can be fixed and we have the guys that can do it,'' Harbaugh said. ``I feel strongly about our offensive line. I think we've got the men for the job.''

The run game against Green Bay wasn't as bad as it was at Buffalo in Week 4, when Baltimore attempted a franchise-record low nine rushes for 24 yards. But of the Ravens' 22 carries on Sunday, five went for losses and five others resulted in no gain. Most notably, Baltimore was stuffed on four straight runs in the second quarter after getting a first-and-goal at the 4.

``We had too many negative plays in the run,'' Harbaugh said. ``We had some mental mistakes, some errors. That cost us.''

In the season opener, the problem was a defense that Peyton Manning riddled for seven touchdown passes in a 49-22 Denver victory. Since then, Baltimore's offense has been the team's most glaring weakness.

The Ravens are averaging 4.55 yards on first down, a figure that's better than only Miami, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Against the Packers, Baltimore converted only two of 14 third downs, in part because the average yardage needed was 11.214 yards.

``Getting more yards in the run game would be big. That would help us a lot,'' Harbaugh said. ``We sure expect to do better with the run game and we need to. You can't consistently run for two yards a carry and be what you want to be as an offense. We need to do a better job of passing on first down, too. Early downs have not been good to us.''

During their Super Bowl run, the Ravens could count on Ray Rice to pick up some solid yardage on the ground on first down. This year, however, Rice hasn't run for more than 74 yards in a game and three times has been held under 40 yards.

That makes it difficult to be creative on first down.

``I always feel like we can mix it up a little bit more on first and second down just to get everybody going,'' Flacco said. ``It's tough to say that when we're just not running the ball up to the ability that we think we should run it. If we were running the ball better, we wouldn't be talking about it. We're just not getting the yardage and the creases that we need right now in that part, and we're kind of unsuccessful at a lot of other things we do just because of that.''

The passing game has been inconsistent, mainly because Flacco has been throwing under pressure. He was sacked five times on Sunday and has been collared behind the line 19 times thus far.

There's also the problem of starting slowly. The Ravens were blanked in the first half by Green Bay and also went scoreless before halftime against Cleveland earlier this season. Baltimore has been outscored 68-47 in the first half overall.

``We need to start faster,'' Harbaugh said. ``We'd love to start with a lead and try to build on that. We haven't done that as often as we need to.''

Baltimore faces division rival Pittsburgh (1-4) this Sunday.

``We'll try to be at our best when our best is needed,'' Harbaugh said.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

Dennis KellyDec 20 03:32p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, S Jerome Couplin III, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, DE Taylor Hart, LB Trent Cole inactive for Week 16.

Leonard HankersonDec 20 03:12p

The Washington Redskins have declared CB Chibuikem Okoro, LB Gabe Miller, DL Jason Hatcher, OG Josh LeRibeus, LB Keenan Robinson, WR Leonard Hankerson inactive for Week 16.

Roy HeluDec 20 03:02p

Washington Redskins RB Roy Helu (toe) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Peyton ManningDec 19 07:42p

Updating a previous report, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was officially limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, but he threw more than he did than the day prior, [ More ]

Frank GoreDec 19 05:42p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) was limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, and is questionable for Week 16.

Keenan AllenDec 19 04:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and WR Keenan Allen (shoulder, ankle) have been ruled out for Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cam NewtonDec 19 04:12p

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) has yet to officially be cleared to play in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns, but head coach Ron Rivera [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice all week but is questionable for Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Peyton ManningDec 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was back to a full practice Friday, Dec. 19, after being limited Thursday, Dec. 18. Manning made several strong throws in the portion open to the media.

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:12p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice again Friday, Dec. 19, and RTV6's Mike Chappell is convinced that Hilton will not play in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

C.J. SpillerDec 19 12:53p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) has been added to the active roster and is probable for Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Cam NewtonDec 19 12:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) is listed as probable for Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns.

Blake BortlesDec 19 12:12p

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T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

Julio JonesDec 19 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

DeMarco MurrayDec 19 10:52a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is likely to play in Week 16, according to a source. Murray has a high threshold for pain, and according to the source, [ More ]

Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

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Leon WashingtonDec 18 11:32p

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Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

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Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

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Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

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