Eisenberg: No Simple Fix On Offense


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The offense had an off game in Tennessee in Week 2, but that was a masterpiece compared to the egg that was laid on national television Monday night.

Predictably, the public's fingers are being pointed, actually jabbed more than pointed, at various culprits, mostly Cam Cameron, the offensive coordinator, and Joe Flacco, the quarterback. Both are stand-up guys and wouldn't dare deny their contribution to the debacle.

But to be fair, the linemen had trouble with their blocks, the receivers had trouble gaining separation, Ray Rice fumbled, penalty flags flew all night. It took a village for the Ravens' offense to sputter, cough and finally die when a late interception sealed the result.

If the unit had performed that miserably throughout this season, its predicament would be easy to sum up – they're just not good enough.

But the offense that capitulated in Jacksonville is the same one that devastated the Pittsburgh Steelers with early strikes in the season opener, blew away the St. Louis Rams in Week 3 and marched 96 yards to a touchdown the first time it touched the ball against the New York Jets in Week 4.

It is the same offense that is ranked ahead of those from other teams with winning records, such as the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers. Rice is fourth in the league in combined rushing and receiving yards. Flacco has surpassed 300 passing yards twice.

The pieces of the puzzle fit at times, forming a productive unit that wins games. And then … wham, complete meltdown.

Basically, the offense has mirrored the stock market, going up and down, up and down. Everyone can see the potential, and it's still early, so there's time to achieve more steadiness, but the problem has endured to the point that a palpable threat now hangs.

"If we don't get consistency going on offense, we're not going anywhere," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said late Monday night.

Truer words were seldom spoken. But let's define our terms here. What is inconsistency? It is not being good enough often enough. That's what left the Ravens staring at themselves in the mirror in the wake of Monday night.

Jacksonville crystallized a fear about inconsistency possibly being embedded in the offense's DNA, as opposed to a fluke that came and went. That's an old story around here that no one wants reprised.

The players and coaches are grinders, adept at turning the page from their last game, regardless if they won or lost. You can be sure they'll grab their hammers and bang away all week, trying to make things better.

But it's not nearly as simple as just making a couple of key corrections and snapping the briefcase shut, done.

"You just watch every single play and you see where a mistake or a thing could have been executed better or a play could have been called better or we could have put our guys in a better position to do those things. Every play is different. It's here, there and it's the other place. So, it's not going to be one fix," Harbaugh said.

It's a lot of fixes, in other words, and where I'm from, the fewer problems, the better.

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

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