Lack of big plays on offense killing Ravens

Ravens Beat

Team's recent lack of big plays a reflection of an out-of-sync offense

November 20, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

The plug has been pulled from the Ravens' electric offense.

A lack of big plays has resulted in a lack of scoring. In the past two games, the Ravens have generated two plays of more than 20 yards. It's no coincidence that the Ravens' offense reached the end zone only twice in those games at Cincinnati and Cleveland.

One big gain during this span was meaningless. It was a 35-yard catch by Ray Rice that was the final play in a 17-7 loss at Cincinnati, and it came against a prevent defense.

The last big play was a 41-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Derrick Mason at Cleveland. That led to a 13-yard touchdown run by Rice.

This power outage has been startling because the Ravens had 24 plays of 20 yards or more in their first seven games (3.4 per game). One reason the Ravens recorded only two big plays is that below-average pass defenses - Cincinnati (ranked 21st against the pass) and Cleveland (tied for 19th) - played their safeties deeper.

Big plays, however, can sometimes reflect when an offense is in rhythm because so many phases have to be in sync for them to work. The pass protection has to hold up. A receiver has to get open, make the catch and possibly break a tackle or two. And the quarterback has to find the open receiver and deliver a good throw.

The statistics show how out of whack the Ravens' offense has become. The team has recorded two big plays over a span of 21 possessions, a total of 111 plays.

This is the game in which the Ravens need to break the rut. The Colts have been starting two rookie cornerbacks (Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey) because Marlin Jackson is on injured reserve and Kelvin Hayden is banged up. Strong safety Bob Sanders is also on injured reserve.

But Indianapolis plays a cover-2 defense, which protects its young cornerbacks and doesn't ask them to play single coverage. The Ravens know it's up to them to create more big plays.

"You learn over time that you do all the detailed things and big things usually happen," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "We just have to tie up all the loose ends."

Air Ravens?
Tracking the Ravens' completions the past four games: Game0-9 yds10-19 yds20+ ydsAt Minnesota1567Vs. Denver1262At Cincinnati891At Cleveland 841

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