Other than the contest against Denver, Rice has been relatively quiet this season
The Ravens (5-2) are technically in first place because Pittsburgh lost in their Sunday’s match-up against New Orleans. Yet, the Ravens know they need to improve in a few areas. Coming out of the bye week the team will look to make adjustments in all three phases of the game; offense, defense and special teams.
Stopping the Run:
The Ravens run defense has struggled at times this year, as of today they rank 17th allowing 109.3 yards per game. Last season the run defense was ranked 5th in the league.
The defense has 12 sacks, that ranks them 11th in the AFC and 23rd in the NFL. Terrell Suggs is in better shape this year and has played well. However, Coach Mattison will need to devise new schemes to allow Suggs and the defense to improve their sack totals.
Overall the secondary has performed well especially going into the season with all of the injuries. The unit is ranked 8th in the league (204.6 passing yards per game). However, a bad trend of late in their last two games, they struggled in the New England and against Buffalo, giving up leads in the fourth quarter.
The corners need to get back their confidence with improved play. The good news is that FS Ed Reed has returned and in his first game back from being on PUP he had 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.
Ray Rice has had a decent season, still he has only had a few games where he has broken a reception for long yardage. Cam Cameron has to find a way to get Ray Rice in open space.
The offense has struggled in goaline and short yardage situations. In New England, the team faced a pivotal 3rd down and 1 yard and failed to convert a quarterback sneak (a questionable call). The offense turned the ball over twice on downs at the goaline; once in Pittsburg and again at home against the Broncos.
On fourth down conversions the team is 1 for 4. The sole conversion was a pass play. The offense will need to get back to some power running.
The passing game is a strength for the team. Flacco has improved each game and Anquan Boldin has been sensational. If anything, Flacco needs to take control at the line of scrimmage (calling out blitzes and audibles when needed) and do a better job at reading defenses.
The special teams unit hasn’t played bad, but they have struggled in the return game.
They will look to improve their kick and punt return average. The team is still looking for that player who can deliver. Jalen Parmele is averaging 22.7 yards per kick return (in 2009 he averaged 31.4 yards per return) Tom Zbikowski is averaging 6.3 yards on punt returns.
It will be interesting to see if Donte Stallworth (coming of a foot injury) or rookie David Reed eventually become factors in the return game.