Baltimore Ravens fans will be looking for 2 things on Sunday:
- The Offense: Carries for Ray Rice
It is a well known fact the Ravens winning percentage goes up when Ray Rice gets his carries. Fans are at a loss as to why this run offense is ranked 22nd in the NFL. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron should heed the words of owner Steve Bisciotti after last year’s year end press conference: “I think we’ve got to get that run game,” Bisciotti said. “If I was an objective observer, I would say the run game let us down.” If am owner Steve Bisciotti I’m disappointed just as much as the fans for not making Ray Rice the featured player in this offense. As an owner, I am thinking my coaches aren’t listening to me and I am worried that the coaches, not the players, could be the biggest obstacle to their goal of a Super Bowl.
Bottom line: Don’t give up on the run, commit to it. Get touches to Ray Rice, 20-25 carries. The Bengals are tough to run against, yet there is no reason to think Ray Rice still can’t have some success and the big play factor always exits with a player of Rice’s caliber.
2. The Defense: ‘Wreaking Havoc’ (Pressure)
Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano said this week in regards to the fall off of turnovers and sacks, “I’ve got to send them more, I’ve got to call more (blitzes). That’s not on them (the players). That falls on my shoulders. We’ve got to be more aggressive. We’ve got to come after them.”
The Ravens defense took a page out of Greg Mattison’s playbook the past few weeks; front 4 pressure and zone coverage. It has yielded poor results. The Ravens defense must go into attack mode and wreak havoc. DE/OLB Paul Kruger has been an excellent pass rusher this year and Pagano should get Kruger more snaps on passing downs.
Bottom line: Stay busy, stay aggressive. Shifting players, different looks at the line of scrimmage–overloads and stunts is what worked early this season. Ray Lewis might be out this Sunday (toe injury). Ray Lewis or not, in today’s NFL, you must stay aggressive.