The Ravens went into Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans without their Pro Bowl running back and top tight end, with a rookie starting at wide receiver and a first-year starter at center.
Change has been part of the routine.
Baltimore has gone through a period of transition through the early part of this season – bringing in new players and dealing with a number of injuries – and the team’s offensive identity is still very much being shaped.
“We’re so new to this with a bunch of new players,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re still building an offensive playbook at this time.”
“I don’t know what we had in our playbook to this point,” Harbaugh responded, with a laugh.
There has been change all over the offense, but the most consistent piece is at quarterback, where
The Ravens knew coming into this season that there were questions on offense, as General Manager Ozzie Newsome said in July, "We don't know yet what our identity is going to be on offense, because it hasn't been established yet.”
Through the first three games, the team’s three offensive gameplans have varied significantly.
Flacco threw the ball a career-high 62 times in the season opener against Denver, as the Ravens fell behind early in the second half. But the next two weeks Flacco has averaged 28.5 passing attempts, while the Ravens have run the ball an average of 32 times a game.
The offense has alternated from an up-tempo, pass-heavy attack to a ground-and-pound approach depending on the situation.
“We are a young team,” Flacco said. “We have a lot of new guys, and we were thin at the running back position [against Houston]. We are going to have some growing pains throughout the first couple of weeks.”
While the Ravens have undergone those growing pains in the early part of the season, Harbaugh said the team is “as far along as we can possibly be with the new group at this time.”
The good news is also that the Ravens have won the last two games despite some of the offensive struggles, and are tied with the Bengals for the best record in the AFC North.
“I have said all along the biggest thing will be: Can we win while we have those [growing pains],” Flacco said. “The last two weeks we haven’t played great, but we’ve managed to win football games against two pretty good football teams. We have to continue to get better and come out next week flying around.”