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Harbaugh: We Can Have Potent Offense

Posted Dec 11, 2013

The Ravens offense has shown flashes of explosiveness this year, but has not been consistent.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

And that has certainly been the case with the Ravens offense this year.

The group ranks near the bottom in the NFL in most statistical offensive categories, and has struggled at times to move the football and put up points. But it has also shown signs of breaking out, like during Sunday’s thrilling victory over the Vikings where the unit scored two of the team’s final three touchdowns in just over two minutes and put up over 200 yards in the quarter.

“That’s what it’s supposed to look like, certainly,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said during Monday’s press conference.

Sunday’s late scoring barrage showed the Ravens have the ability to get points in a hurry. They have big-play threats at receiver, a running back who appears to be re-gaining his old form and a franchise quarterback that has proven himself time and time again in crunch late-game situations.

The key is to put all of that together for a complete game.

“We are what we are, and we’ve got to find a way with the guys we have to be a real potent offense, and I really believe we can do that,” Harbaugh said. “I know we can do that.”

As the Ravens head into the final three-game stretch of the regular season, getting some consistency from the offense is critical if the Ravens are going to advance to the postseason for the sixth straight year. The unit has shown signs of coming together during the last three victories, but they have still been prone to miscues.

They struggled in the red zone against the Jets and Steelers, as Justin Tucker kicked nine field goals in those two games. The offense fixed that issue against the Vikings and scored touchdowns on all three red-zone trips, but Flacco also had three interceptions.

“We’ve had our ups and downs offensively,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been trying to put this thing together throughout the course of the season, and we’ve had some good moments, but we’ve had a lot of challenging moments too. So, we’re going to continue to try to do that with the pieces that we have, and we think we’ve got the pieces to do that.”

Earlier in the season, the Ravens had to determine their offensive identity.

They underwent significant transition and had to replace starters at wide receiver, left tackle, center and tight end. They also dealt with injuries to key players like running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Jacoby Jones. At one point, Flacco was without all but one of his top five leading pass catchers from last season.

The personnel turnover led to growing pains, as the Ravens worked to determine whether they wanted to rely more on the run or the pass. As the running game faltered, the passing game struggled to pick up the slack and Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell had to get creative.

He adjusted the running schemes to use more single back, pistol formations rather than two-back packages. He also experimented with using backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the read-option to help jump start the running game.

The Ravens have tinkered with the offense throughout the season, and they have been able to determine the kind of unit they want to be.

“There are certain things that we are, and there are certain things that we’re not. And certainly, at this point in time, we know what those things are,” Harbaugh said. “So, you can criticize us all you want, you can say, ‘They’re not this and they’re not that.’ And you know what? You’re probably right.”

As the Ravens head into a three-game stretch against the Lions, Patriots and Bengals – all three top 10 offenses in the NFL – they know that they will have to put up points to come away with victories. They can’t count on those explosive offenses to be held at bay for too long, and they will have to put forth the kind of offensive displays they’ve shown flashes of this season.

“That’s what we’re trying to build, and we’ve got three games – and really, one game – to continue to do that,” Harbaugh said. 

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