It was great seeing quarterback Joe Flacco throw for more than 300 yards Sunday and the Ravens compile more than 500 yards in total offense. It was nice seeing all the new "weapons" in the arsenal and veteran tight end Todd Heap having a role in the offense again.
When was the last time the Ravens scored three offensive touchdowns in a game, much less in the fourth quarter?
There is great euphoria in Baltimore now because the Ravens have a real quarterback and offense. But a major concern lies underneath: The Ravens must not stray too far from their strength, and that's running the football.
Regardless of production, the two major principles of winning football never change, and that's to run the football and stop the run. Now, don't get me wrong. Having a wide-open offense is a good thing, and heaven knows we need it in this town after a nine-year drought with the previous coaching staff.
But Flacco threw the ball 43 times, and teams that usually throw that much don't win a lot of football games unless they're playing against a team like the Kansas City Chiefs.
You applaud the Ravens for apparently trying to upgrade their passing game from a year ago and allowing Flacco to grow as a quarterback. But after watching them throw the ball around so much in the preseason, and then again Sunday, you have to be concerned about the identity of the offense.
In a battle of Flacco against the three-headed monster known as Ray Rice, Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee, the preference here is the running game.
"This is a new year, a new offense, a new mentality, everything starts over," said Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton. "And we are kind of reformed or remaking ourselves, and to be able to throw the ball down the field, it's fun, one, and puts points on the board, two. The last time I checked, the team with the most points wins. That's our goal ... to score every time."
You have to love the enthusiasm, and the excitement, but let's be realistic. For one, those were the Chiefs, and two, the Ravens' passing game isn't as sophisticated as some other top ones in the NFL.
And then there is the Flacco factor. The second-year quarterback isn't ready to throw the ball all over the stadium every week. He might have completed 26 passes and had a quarterback rating of 95.8, but his play was erratic in the second half.
He often threw high and at bad angles. He easily could have been intercepted several times. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron probably noticed this. He is also aware that Flacco is still a work in progress, but sometimes coordinators get carried away, too.
Their egos get out of control. They want so much to become a head coach that sometimes they lose focus. This is not to insinuate that Cameron has lost sight but to urge him and the Ravens to keep it in perspective.
Against Kansas City, the Ravens threw the ball on 25 of 39 plays in the first half and had only a 10-7 lead at the midway point. In the second half, they threw the ball on only 18 of 46 plays and had runs from scrimmage of 17, 9, 8, 16, 9 and 22 yards. And of course, the Ravens scored four touchdowns in the second half.
McGahee, the No. 2 halfback, gave the Ravens a spark in the third quarter with some tough inside runs. He seemed to get Rice going a little more, and McClain was effective as a short-yardage runner and receiver out of the backfield.
These three players are tremendously close, and they have great chemistry and competitive spirit. It's also apparent that at this point of the season the Ravens' offensive line can run-block better than it pass-blocks. There were quite a few times Sunday when the Ravens were still sending out only two receivers in pass routes because they have to keep a tight end or receiver in to pass-block.
"With me and Ray rotating in and out, it keeps them off balance, we're unstoppable," McGahee said.
Ultimately, the Ravens want balance. Hopefully, they will use their passing game as the Pittsburgh Steelers do. The Steelers want to run first, but if needed, they can turn Ben Roethlisberger loose the way they did against the Tennessee Titans last week.
The Ravens can do the same with Flacco. He has a strong arm and the work ethic to match, but he's still on a learning curve. He is too inexperienced and lacking a full arsenal of weapons to be turned loose every week. The Ravens' passing game should complement the running game, not become the No. 1 staple.
Hopefully, the Ravens will keep this in mind and not go overboard with the passing. When the weather turns cold, the wind blows and snow is on the field in late December and early January, it's a great asset for an East Coast team to be able to run the football.
That's a key thing to keep in mind.