Insight to the Limelight: Sky Falling for the Offense?

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SPOTLIGHT

All of a sudden, the offense is in disarray and isn't worth a darn.

That's the sentiment more than a few outsiders have expressed following our stomach-twisting losses the past couple weeks.

True, in the last two games, we haven't stacked up the points and mounted record-setting yardage like we did in our opening three victories. And true again, we haven't properly executed when given the opportunity to send our opponent packing.

However – against two very good teams in two very difficult games – what we have done is put ourselves in a position to deliver that devastating knockout blow. And at this point of the season, that's something that cannot be discounted.

So what was the very first thing Cam Cameron told our players in Monday morning's offensive meetings?

"We're right where we want to be in the sense that we've had an opportunity to impact every game and be a factor in the outcome," Cam responded when I asked him Wednesday. "Unfortunately, the last two weeks, we've had the chance to put the game away, but we weren't able to do it. If we make two plays differently, we're the exact same team, and we're possibly 5-0.

"But trust me, the sky is not falling over two plays."

If the Ravens were constantly coughing up the ball and allowing Joe Flacco to get battered each series, certainly, that'd be a different story.

"The key indicators of a good offense are turnovers and sacks," Cam reminded me. "If you're turning the ball over a lot and getting sacked often, you need to change what you're doing. But we're not turning the ball over an inordinate amount – even though it's still too much – and we're not giving up a ton of sacks."

Baltimore's offense has committed six turnovers (five interceptions by Flacco – including a desperation heave in the waning seconds against Cincy – and one fumble by Willis McGahee). As far as sacks go, seven have been permitted, which currently ranks as the NFL's sixth fewest.

It should also be noted that in just its second season under Cameron, the Ravens' young attack remains a work in progress.

"We are a growing offense," Cam explained. "Why is that? It's because our quarterback is a second-year guy, our tailback is a second-year guy, and right now we have a rookie playing left tackle. How many teams have that combination?"

You'll never hear a coach use injuries as an excuse. Still, the absence of the starting left tackle Jared Gaither, who has missed six straight quarters with a neck injury, cannot be overlooked. Indeed, Michael Oher has played well after shifting to the opposite end of the line (especially just five games into his professional career). However, Oher filling in for Gaither, while natural guard Marshal Yanda plays tackle, undoubtedly tampers with the unit's continuity and chemistry.

"Doesn't matter one bit, and we can't worry about it," Cam responded when I raised the notion. "Yes, injuries affect you, especially when a player like Gaither goes down. But you can't be concerned with that. Even if we're banged up, we've got to find a way to get the job done.

"I'll tell you what does matter: We've still been in the ones we haven't won. And, I guarantee that we're working extremely hard to ensure that not only do we have a major impact in our games, but also that we execute and finish on our terms."

So yes, the season is still young. And no, two sub-par performances by our offense don't spell doomsday.

I take you back to last year, at this very time, when we knew much less about our offense than we do right now. We were nauseous at 2-3, having just lost three consecutive games. The offense had combined to produce a measly 33 points in those three defeats, and our backs were against the wall heading to Miami. How'd we respond? We beat the Dolphins 27-13 and ripped off 11 wins in our last 13 games, averaging 28 points per contest during that span.

Will that happen again this year? There's no guarantee. But one thing is certain: This Ravens offense has plenty of fight in it, and our players and coaches will not back down.

NOTE THE QUOTE

Vikings QB Brett Favre on if he'll be facing a "desperate" Ravens team this Sunday:"Ray [Lewis] and those guys are talking about, 'Hey, the record is no indication of how good we are.' And I agree. It's way too early in the season to be looking at this game any differently than [Baltimore being] a 5-0 team. We're going to get the same team that has played against Cincinnati, has played against New England, that's played outstanding, and [where] a play or two has been the determining factor. I wouldn't say [they'll be] desperate. I think that they're well aware of what they need to get done, and they'll play the same way they've been playing. Cut out a play or two here or there, and they're fine."

Insight: Wise words from a guy who's won a few games in his 19 seasons – 174 to be exact, which is more than any quarterback in NFL history.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Baltimore has performed strikingly well on the road over the past year. Dating back to Oct. 19, 2008, when we won 27-13 at Miami, the Ravens have posted a 6-2 regular season road record. Including postseason play, the Ravens have won eight of their last 11 away games, producing the most road victories in the NFL during this span.

A crucial part of the recent success away from M&T Bank Stadium has to do with Joe Flacco's strong play. Here's a look at the young quarterback's numbers in his last eight regular season road games.

Joe Flacco's last eight regular season road games:

NUMBERS TO RAVE ABOUT

114.4

Total yards from scrimmage Ray Rice is averaging per game this season, second most in the NFL. Rice has registered 364 rushing and 208 receiving yards. (Only the Titans' Chris Johnson is averaging more total yards a game at 118.8.)

DON'T MISS THIS

If you haven't seen the intro segments ESPN has been running for its Monday Night Football games, you're in for a real treat when we play Cleveland in a primetime special on Nov. 16. This past Monday, ESPN sent a production crew to our training facility to tape the intro for our showdown against the Browns. While I won't spoil the element of surprise by disclosing all the shoot's details, I can say that the network's creativity was in full bloom for this one. Here are a few clues that should pique your interest:

  • Terrell Suggs
  • Elaborate makeup
  • The blockbuster movie "The Dark Knight"

Interested? Trust me, it won't disappoint. Make sure you're firmly planted on the couch at least a half-hour before kickoff that night. Suggs will put on a spectacular show prior to the game, and hopefully, follow it up with a sizzling encore on the field.

That's it for this edition of the Limelight. As always, thank you for reading. Until next time…

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