The solution to the Ravens' defensive slide in October is not in changing players or schemes, Jarret Johnson says. It is in practicing, and perfecting, existing techniques.
"It's no one player, it's no one position," the veteran linebacker said Tuesday. "Everybody's made enough mistakes across the board to get us in the situation we're in. ... We've got to understand the games we've been in, [if] you make a mistake, that might be the play that costs the team the game. You don't want to be that person. You have to go out each play and play sound technique and play your assignment."
Johnson, who has played as well as anyone on defense, said he had an assignment bust on Minnesota's first touchdown Sunday. There were plenty more by others in the 33-31 loss to the Vikings, when the Ravens gave up three plays of 58 yards or longer. They have allowed 130 points in six games, and only 10 teams have allowed more.
In an attempt to get things turned around, the Ravens practiced Tuesday and will practice again today before breaking for the bye week. Players were loose and relaxed in the locker room during Tuesday's media availability.
"I think we're still confident. I think we know how we can play," Johnson said. "But at the same time, we haven't been ourselves. We've given up a lot of points and a lot of yardage, which we're not accustomed to doing. I think it's more a state of awareness; we better get this fixed, or we're going to lose more ballgames. But we know how good we can be. We played bad and still almost won every game."
In their three-game losing streak, the Ravens have lost by six, three and two points. Last season, they were sitting at 2-3 in October with another three-game losing streak before rebounding to win nine of the last 11 regular-season games. The low point was a dreadful 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Johnson remembers. "That was one of the top-five worst beatings I've had since I came into the NFL," he said. "We were all looking at each other like, 'Oh, God, is this going to be another one of those years?' Then we just came back."
How? By going back to the basics, by relying on their technique.
"Anytime things get tough, you've got to rely on your technique," Johnson said. "That's one of our core sayings ... always fall back on your technique."
Webb ready for more
Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb said he's ready to take on a bigger load in the Ravens' secondary if necessary. He got a few snaps in the nickel package in Minnesota and felt comfortable in the defense.
"I think I did OK," he said. "I'm ready. I'm still getting better by the day, and each week I'm learning more from these guys. Ed Reed, a guy I look up to, he's teaching me the importance of reading the defense and knowing the offense."
Webb's biggest contributions so far have been in the kick-return game. He took the job over from Chris Carr in the Minnesota game and had seven returns for 165 yards. He's averaging 26.1 yards on 10 returns with his north-south running style.
"I'm just being me," Webb said. "That's how I run the ball. When I see a hole, I'm going to hit it. If they keep making holes for me, I'm going to keep hitting it and try to make a big play for my team."
Offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who has missed the past two games with a neck injury, says he'll be ready to go in the Nov. 1 game against the unbeaten Denver Broncos. "Oh, yeah. Definitely. One-hundred percent," he said when asked whether he'll face Denver.
Gaither said the flexibility in his neck has responded to treatment and exercise.
Wide receiver Kelley Washington said he has no ill effects from the helmet-to-helmet hit he took from Vikings safety Madieu Williams (Maryland) early in the fourth quarter. Washington gained 28 yards on a second-and-18 pass, and was down on the field for a few minutes after the hit. He sat out the rest of the series but returned later in the quarter.
"It was a legal hit. I just didn't have any time to react and get out of the way," Washington said. "It was one of those bang-bang plays. ... I was able to go back in the game, so it wasn't that serious."
The Ravens did not make any deals as the trade deadline passed Tuesday, despite speculation they were in the market for a cornerback or a receiver. ... Rookie tackle Michael Oher was ready to put his war of words with Minnesota's Jared Allen behind him. "It was a misunderstanding," Oher said after Allen called him an "idiot" on a radio show Monday. "Jared Allen, he's a great player. I respect that guy. Been watching him for years. We just had an emotional game."