Signs of improvement.
We all look for them as the season goes on, and when it comes to the Ravens’ 2016 offense, we’ve had to strain our eyes to see them (when we’re not averting them).
As Joe Flacco‘s group enters Week 13, here’s where they stand compared to others around an offensive driven league:
They are 25th in points scored (19.8 ppg), 24th in total yards (334.2), including an average of 246.4 passing yards (18th) and just 87.8 rushing yards (28th) per game.
“As a coach, you’re not just looking at numbers,” John Harbaugh said when asked if he sees improvement in his offense. “You’re looking at what you’re trying to build and how guys are doing in practice every single day, where we missed a little bit here and there and what we need to game-plan for the next week.
“You’re trying to win football games. That’s really what we’re trying to do. I’d love to see the numbers be through the roof, but numbers don’t win games. You have to score more points than the other team to win games. Everybody knows that. We need to score more points as an offense. That’s the bottom line.
“We just have to continue to find a way to do that. I believe we can do it. I know we can do it. Making plays here and there, blocking a little bit better, seeing some reads, calling some plays, building a good game plan, those are all things that you try to do.”
It’s obvious to anyone watching that something remains amiss with this group. It’s hard to put a finger on where exactly the foundation is unsteady, but it almost seems like the Ravens, after finding success on a drive, immediately switch directions.
“No, not per se,” responded Harbaugh when asked if his offense got away from what they did on the opening drive against the Bengals (11 plays. 75 yards and their only touchdown.)
“Yes, we were,” was another enlightening response as to the reasoning behind why his team wasn’t able to duplicate their successful opening drive.
“Not really,” quipped Harbaugh when asked to explain his previous comments. “Not in any way that I can explain it to you that would make any sense.
“We just have to execute better. We have to get first downs. We have to stay out of the hole. You get on the 10-yard line. You make a couple of first downs. You get into that plus-fringe range. You have to make a play. I think you’ve asked me this question every single week, and I’ve given you the same answer.”
There’s that signs-of-improvement thing again, John: If we are asking every week, then there is a reason.
“There’s never any one thing,” Harbaugh went on to say. “You have to execute these plays in these situations. Sometimes it’s a block. Sometimes it’s a catch that’s not made. Sometimes it’s a route that’s not run. Sometimes it’s a read that’s not seen. Sometimes it’s a penalty. Those are all of the things that go into it, because we have 11 guys out there trying to get the job done. That’s the best I can do to explain it. If we sit down and watch the tape, I can show you every situation. But you go out on the practice field and you’re not going to play the same game the next week.
“We have to get better across the board. We have to find the things that we can do well that we can execute in those situations that are going to give our opponent trouble, that are going to minimize mistakes and bad plays on our part, and all that goes into that.
“You’re going to do it against an evolving-type of a defense. You’re not going to see the same defense. You’re not going to see the same schemes, and they’re going to be scheming up ways to attack your weaknesses, and you have to account for that, too. That’s what makes football great. That’s what makes it so challenging. That’s our challenge on offense, to get it to the point where the results are what you and I and everybody else want to see, which is yards and points and winning football that we can extend leads in the second half.”
Improving in the second half is an absolute must for the Ravens as the team heads down the stretch. The ability – or inability – to put opponents away is what separates good teams from bad ones. The Ravens posted 101 yards of offense in the second half against the Bengals and walked away with just three points.
Joe Flacco & Co. haven’t posted a second-half touchdown in five of their eleven games this season.
Despite all of this, the Ravens are sitting atop of the AFC North with a 6-5 record and a true shot at a postseason appearance.
But to say that this offense, that’s stumbled all season long, helped them get there is a lie that would make Mike Tomlin proud.
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