Top takeaways from Ravens decisive win over Eagles: Inconsistent Offense
The Baltimore Ravens improved their record to 5-1 and won their third straight game since suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs with a decisive 30-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in Week Six.
Before the Ravens head into the bye week, here are some of the top takeaways that I observed from their fifth win of the season:
The Ravens offense was the most prolific and highest-scoring unit in the league last year in the regular season and shattered records with their revolutionary rushing attack.
However, through the first six games of this season even though they sit at 5-1, are averaging nearly 30 points per game and have scored 165 offensive points, the offense is not quite clicking on all cylinders.
Statistical regression for reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and the offense as a whole was expected coming into this year after historic seasons in 2019, but the lack of consistency and execution as well as some uncharacteristic mental errors have held them back and left points on the field.
Against the Eagles in Week Six, they made enough plays to win but it was just another example of the up and down, hot and cold level of play that the Ravens have been playing with to start the season.
The Ravens had 12 penalties accepted against them in Philadelphia with a whopping nine being called on offensive players. Nearly all nine were called in offensive linemen and either negated positive plays, stalled drives, or put the offense in unfavorable down and distance situations.
“It’s always unfortunate when we shoot ourselves in the foot,” starting right tackle Orlando Brown Jr said. “That’s something that Coach ‘Harbs’ has been on us about since Day One – since I’ve been here – even before I’ve been here. We’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we play more efficient and don’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Of the offense’s 13 drives on Sunday not including the last that ended in a kneel down, seven ended with punts compared to just six finishing with points, and of those six only half were capped off by touchdowns and the others resulted in Justin Tucker field goals.
The offense had five drives that went three-and-out which is most in a single game since Jackson took over as the full-time starter.
Ravens punter and all-time leader in games played, Sam Koch, hardly saw the field much last season. In fact, his 40 punts in 16 games last year were the lowest total of his entire 15-year career.
That was as much of a testament to the Ravens’ ability to move the ball, getting into scoring position, and put points on the board as any other.
Koch is already past the halfway mark of his career-low season total with 22 punts through the first six games of this season.
The Ravens’ standards are to thrive for excellence and perfect execution on both sides of the ball every time they step on the field but that hasn’t been the case through the first month and a half of the 2020 season.
“We want to be the best offense to touch the field in the world, consistently – play-in, play-out, series-in, series-out. We’re just not there yet. We understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“The mentality here with Lamar and ‘G-Ro’ [Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman] and everything that Lamar brings to the game is scoring every drive. That’s where we want to get to. We want to be perfect,” Brown said.
One aspect of the offense that has come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks has been the chemistry or lack thereof between Jackson and second-year wide receiver Miles Boykin.
In the last two games, there were instances where the two were clearly not on the same page and the play resulted in an off-target incompletion instead of a chunk play or score.
“It’s happened at least twice in the last two games,” Harbaugh said. “Those are plays that are opportunities for big conversions. We talked about that in the meeting today. That’s got to be fixed. It will be. They’re both very smart. It’s Miles’ responsibility to get it right. Lamar’s calling the play and Miles has to get it right. He knows that, he’s a very accountable guy.”
Assistant Head Coach/Pass Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach David Culley cited miscommunication issues between Jackson and Boykin as the reason for them being out of sync at times and in those two glaring instances in the last two games.
He said that the problem is more of a matter of Boykin not hearing the right play call or adjustment rather than him not knowing the play all together or what route to run.
“Miles heard one thing and Lamar said another thing,” Culley said. “It’s our responsibility when we’re in the huddle to make sure we’re hearing and listening to what he’s saying. That’s happened a couple of times. That’s on us to make sure we know when we come out of the huddle exactly what he’s calling. We corrected that.”
Another aspect of the offense that has come under arguably the most scrutiny has been the inconsistencies that Jackson has had as a passer dating back to the loss to the Chiefs.
While some want to say that he is regressing or has hit the ceiling in the development of his ability to throw the football and cite his occasional propensity to short arm throws or throw sidearm more than they think he should, Quarterback’s Coach James Urban is more worried about correcting his mechanical fundamentals.
“I’m more concerned about his base, his platform, and the biomechanics of his delivery than some of the things that he does great naturally,” Urban said.
Jackson’s accuracy has been an issue at times as well and while he has shown an ability to throw into tight windows and deliver the ball with touch and precision, Urban just wants to help him work on completing accurate throws consistently
Opposing teams have been defending the Ravens with specific game plans that they have not shown on film much or at all ahead of their matchups.
Nevertheless, second-year wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown doesn’t believe that the problem lies within what defenses are doing to try to slow them down, but rather in their lack to consistently execute their game plan on offense.
“It’s nothing they’re doing,” said Brown. “We’re stopping ourselves.”