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Expect Some Changes To Ravens 'Vanilla' Offense

Posted Sep 3, 2013

The offense was 'vanilla' in the preseason, but that will change this week in Denver.

Ray Rice is not reading too much into the performance by the Ravens’ first-team offense during the preseason.

The unit had its struggles in the first three preseason games – five turnovers and 24 points in six quarters – but the Ravens stuck to the basics and didn’t delve deep into their playbook for August football. 

“We were very vanilla in the preseason,” Rice said. “Obviously, it was for a reason.”

When the Ravens open the regular season Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, expect the offense to open it up more.

“I’m not going to say a lot different, but you’re going to see some things different than what we’ve done previously probably here or there,” Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “We’re not giving away any trade secrets, but there could be a wrinkle here and there.”

Keeping the offense simple in the preseason is by design.

The Ravens did not gameplan for their opponents during the preseason, and instead focused on installing their schemes in practice. The emphasis during the preseason is for players to build chemistry and learn the system, and then the coaches assess and develop the roster to see who will make the 53-man squad.

Coaches do not want to put too much on display during the preseason for the other 31 teams to see.  

“That’s part of the preseason,” Caldwell said. “You’re trying to get younger guys to learn and develop within the process, and so we’re trying to bring them along. Oftentimes, you have to do it slowly, so you’re trying to get the basic fundamentals of it, and probably that was what Ray was referring to when he said ‘vanilla,’ because you are working on the basics.”

Rather than pouring over game tape of their preseason opponents, the coaching staff has spent time throughout training camp looking ahead to Denver. Head Coach John Harbaugh said that the coaches started preparing for the Broncos when the schedule was announced back in mid-April.

Caldwell has worked with quarterback Joe Flacco and the offensive staff throughout the last several months to fine-tune an offense that finished the season humming. In the last five games where they had a developed gameplan, the Ravens averaged 31.4 points per game.

This week they will go back to utilizing all the tools in the offense, and that could lead to some new looks for the unit.

“Once you start to face an opponent that you’re preparing for, for an extended period of time, you’re going to try to utilize things that put you in the best position against those particular looks,” Caldwell said. “You may see a couple things that are a little different."

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