The Ravens are focusing on their recent red zone struggles, hoping to find answers before they play the Broncos on Sunday.
Baltimore has scored just two touchdowns in nine red zone trips over the past two games. Settling for field goals cost them dearly during their 28-27 loss to the Jaguars, when they converted on just two of five trips to the red zone and squandered a nine-point fourth-quarter lead.
Making adjustments throughout the season is a never-ending process, and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman expects this week's efforts to produce positive results.
"Early in the year it was what, the run game's no good," Roman said. "You address it. Then you move on and something else pops up. Recently, it's been the red zone.
"We evaluate it and take a cold-blooded look at it. Look at the scheme, what are we doing and when are we doing it. We try to evaluate how we can execute it better and teach it better. It comes down to coaching a little better, playing a little better – everybody jumping in on, we've got to get this fixed. I like where we're going with it."
The Ravens will face a Denver defense that hasn't been easy to score against. Despite their 3-8 record, the Broncos rank third in the NFL in overall defense and have held the opposition to fewer than 20 points in eight of their 11 games. The Broncos defense ranks No. 1 in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on just 30.8% of opponents' trips.
Denver has the defense to keep the game close and can pull off an upset by forcing Baltimore to settle for field goals again. However, the Ravens had 415 yards of total offense in Jacksonville, and Roman feels the offense can break loose if the red-zone execution is improved.
"I thought we threw it fairly efficiently, and Lamar [Jackson] did a great job of managing certain situations," Roman said. "What it comes down to is finishing drives. I thought we did a great job in the plus territory [of] getting down to the red zone. You're not going to get a touchdown all the time, but by gosh, we're going to try. I think I can help with certain things; execution-wise. It's all of us – coach a little better and play a little better down there."
Operational Issues Had Baltimore's Offense Up Against the Clock in Jacksonville
Rushing to get the ball snapped before the play clock expired was another issue for Baltimore's offense in Jacksonville. Roman said it's not always a bad thing when the Ravens are snapping the ball when the play clock is about to expire. But it becomes an issue if the offense doesn't have time to get properly organized.
"What we're talking about is a race to be in control," Roman said. "It's not, 'Hey, how fast we can get to the line and snap it?' It's 'How can we do what we want to do, and be in control of the situation'. If you snap the ball an average of four seconds later than other teams over the course of a 70-play game, now you're talking 4 ½ - 5 minutes where their offense can't touch the ball. Those are treasures."
Roman said the coaches were having problems with their headsets in Jacksonville, which slowed down the process of getting plays communicated to Jackson in a timely fashion. But Roman said the Ravens need to do a better job overcoming those challenges.
"When you're having operational issues, and now you're not in control and you're rushing and things are hectic, that's not what you're looking for," Roman said. "Specifically last week we had some headset issues, communication issues, technical difficulties if you will. We've got a protocol in place to handle that. We've got to make sure we're on top of that, starting with me, making sure that gets communicated. That's something we don't want to do, not be in control."
Roman Pushes Stanford Job Talk Aside
Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday that Stanford has reached out to Roman about their head coach vacancy.
Asked about that Thursday, Roman kept the focus on his current task.
"All the rumors and whatnot aside … We've got a great group of players and coaches here," Roman said. "Our singular focus is on this week's game against Denver and [its] top-ranked defense. So, that's really where it's at."
Mike Macdonald Talks About Latest Breakdown
The sting of the Ravens' fourth loss after holding a two-score lead (this time nine points) has dissipated to a degree, but making sure it doesn't happen again has not.
The Ravens have closed out some of their recent wins on defense, but Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald was asked about what went wrong on the Jaguars' final drive.
"I think it's really every situation that there's the spirit of the call and the technique that goes along with it. So, we just need to do a better job of pairing those things together," Macdonald said.
"It was just too inconsistent in those times. We had a couple of opportunities to win the game on that drive, and we didn't make it. That happens sometimes in football, and obviously we're disappointed that it shook out that way."
The Ravens had forced a third-and-21 on the Jaguars' final drive after a Calais Campbell sack. On the following play, Baltimore dropped everyone but four rushers deep into zone coverage. However, some of the drops were a little too deep and the Jaguars got a too easy 16-yard completion over the middle to set up a manageable fourth-and-5.