OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A common theme has been echoed by Ravens players and coaches alike in describing the offensive woes away from M&T Bank Stadium this season.
In pinpointing what needs to be done after mustering just 28 points in their last 10 quarters of play on the road, members of the organization have uttered “execution” over and over, but making it happen is the challenge. An offense that’s looked like one of the NFL’s elite in four home games this season — averaging just over 32 points per contest — has been out of sync and unproductive in three road games this season in which they’ve scored a total of 45 points.
Taking the bye week to assess what’s gone wrong and how to fix it, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron reminded everyone the tools are there to be successful away from M&T Bank Stadium. The productive numbers at home prove the personnel and scheme are more than capable of being successful, but overcoming the challenges of communication and simply remaining calm have plagued the Ravens far too often in road contests.
“The one thing that we’re not as good at on the road as we are at home is being on the same page,” Cameron said. “It might be any combination — it could be in the passing game, it could be in protection, it could be in the run game. So, we’re looking at everything from a communication standpoint, how we can make sure, on the road, that we’re on the same page.”
Questions have once again surfaced about quarterback Joe Flacco and the amount of freedom he has to operate at the line of scrimmage and make adjustments if necessary. Cameron repeated the fifth-year signal caller has all the freedom he needs to read opposing defenses and make changes on the fly.
With the increased use of the no-huddle attack this season, the proclamation shouldn’t come as a shock despite some critics suggesting otherwise.
“It’s common knowledge all the leeway that Joe has at the line of scrimmage now,” Cameron said. “Everybody knows the options that he has.”
If Flacco holds as much influence as his offensive coordinator suggests, perhaps a more important question that hasn’t been asked very often is the amount of responsibility the on-field leader of the offense holds in explaining why Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has seemingly disappeared at certain points in road games this season.
Has the Baltimore quarterback checked out of plays designed to feed Rice the football when it may not have been the best choice to do so? Or, has the quarterback simply made the necessary adjustments against certain defensive looks? Does the audible menu itself needs to be adjusted to include Rice more often?
The answer is open for interpretation based on comments made by Cameron on Thursday.
“We are at our best when everyone is involved,” Cameron said. “Ray is a big part of what we’re doing. We have to make sure that within our audible system, the audibles don’t take the ball out of his hands, based on what the defense might be dictating.”
Whether it’s making a concerted effort to give Rice more carries early in games or to target him more often out of the backfield in the passing game, nearly everyone invested in the Ravens’ offense has suggested the two-time Pro Bowl running back needs to have a bigger workload.
Sunday’s meeting with the Cleveland Browns will provide the first post-bye test in determining what breakthroughs the Ravens have made offensively, albeit against an underwhelming opposing defense.
Pees searching for answers defensively