The Ravens' scuffling offense has Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman addressing multiple issues with his own team and with the media Thursday.
It's nothing new for Baltimore's offensive playcaller to take heat. It's been happening since the start of the franchise and persists now even though the Ravens have had one of the league's top offensive units since Roman took over.
The Ravens rank fourth in the NFL in total offense (387.9 yards per game), third in rushing and 13th in passing. But they've slipped to 16th in points per game (23.5) after averaging 15 points per game over the past four contests.
There's no denying that the offense has been struggling and that quarterback Lamar Jackson has been off, tossing six interceptions over his past three contests. Here's what Roman had to say about several of the offensive issues today:
On handling opponents' heavy blitzes:
"It's like anything else. What's preventing you from having more success against zone? Against man? Against an under front? Against an over front? … [With] pressure, there's definitely a plan. There are times where the plan involved an audible, or the plan involves a check, [or] a signal, that kind of thing. There are times when you just have to make the play work, and there are built in things. So, we just have to keep working at it. We just have to keep working at it. The guys are working hard at it. We're seeing a decent level of it the last three [or] four weeks, and again, we've had some success, and we haven't had some success. We're constantly trying to push that envelope to a higher percentage for us."
On Jackson holding the ball too long:
"We comb through the film together, all of us, and there's definitely some things in that area that we have to do better in, and he knows it. There are times, though, when there is a smart sack. Like if you try to throw the ball and somebody is in a position where they can swat at your arm, now you're putting the team in jeopardy. The bottom line, though, is we want to play on time and in rhythm. So, that's something that we have to work on, especially with these teams that are playing way off and are just giving us stuff underneath."
On spacing issues in routes:
"When that happens, it's generally somebody did something that they shouldn't have done. Sometimes, it can happen where you're really trying to clear a guy out and bring a guy underneath as a form of a shield. So, sometimes, that may be the case. Sometimes, guys are in the wrong spot. So, it's either one of those, really."
On using more up-tempo:
"I mean, no-huddle is definitely an option for us. We've been really good in 'got-to-have-it situations,' which we call two minute. That's where your back is against the wall, you're fighting the clock. We've had some really solid success there in that situation. In game, hurry up is a lot different dynamic. [It's] completely different. The upside, the downside, the team, the big picture to it all, involving the defense and everything, is very different. So, it's definitely on our plate. We work on it all the time, and it's definitely something that you kind of want to get into at the right time. I've gotten into it, sometimes, early in the games this year, and it hasn't worked out so well. So, I got right out of it. There are pluses and minuses."
Roman Puts Trust in Tyre Phillips to Improve
One of the Ravens' offensive problems, particularly over the past several games, has been the pass protection from the edges. Jackson has taken a league-high 37 sacks, including seven in the Pittsburgh loss.
Part of the issue is that he held onto the ball too long or took a sack instead of trying to throw the ball away (he said to avoid a sack/strip turnover). Another part is that the protection just hasn't been good enough, even when not facing a heavy blitz.
Keep in mind, the Ravens have faced some of the top pass rushers in the league the last few weeks in Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt, Cleveland's Myles Garrett and Chicago's Robert Quinn. But that's not going to change going forward, starting Sunday with a rematch with Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
Second-year blocker Tyre Phillips stepped in for Patrick Mekari when he went down with a hand injury in Pittsburgh, and Phillips not surprisingly had a tough time against Watt. With Mekari expected to be out for a few weeks, it seems the Ravens will continue to roll with Phillips on the right side.
"Tyre is a developing player [with] worlds of potential, and we believe in him," Roman said. "He got thrown out there. He did OK at times, and he can do better. He knows it, and we know it. That's what we're working towards. … [He's] a really dialed-in guy, and he just needs to go out there and do it, down-in and down-out."
Mark Andrews, Roman Both Feel They Could've Done Better on Two-Point Conversion
The failed two-point conversion attempt to win Sunday's game in Pittsburgh still hurts, and Roman and tight end Mark Andrews both said Thursday that they could've done better.
Roman broke out a new wrinkle by motioning Andrews across the formation and underneath the routes of his fellow receivers. Watt was left unblocked. All the Ravens had to do was squeeze a pass by the All-Pro to the wide-open Andrews.
Jackson's throw was a bit wide with Watt in his face and Andrews had the ball deflect off one hand and drop harmlessly to the turf.
"Great play call. Obviously, Lamar got some pressure in his face, throws the best ball he could," Andrews said. "For me, it's just making the play. Just seeing it. That's a play I know I can make, so I'm going to be better."
Roman said he wasn't going to get into the specific strategy of the play but said there were multiple options. If Watt crashed down on the fake handoff, Jackson could have sprinted to the edge for a touchdown. If Watt went too high, Jackson could have ducked underneath his rush and run for the end zone. The Steelers' All-Pro did neither and tried to get in the throwing lane.
"To me, and this is as coaches, as a coach, if it works, it's the perfect play," Roman said. "So, I have to do a better job with a better play."
Wink Martindale Isn't Going to Change Ravens' Aggressive Mentality
The Ravens were aggressive going for the two-point conversion and they were aggressive on the defensive side in pressuring the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers' first touchdown to Diontae Johnson happened when Anthony Averett, as he said Wednesday, was playing a different coverage than everybody else. He took the blame for not getting the communication. Safety Chuck Clark was also in the box trying to disrupt the play.
It was also a new wrinkle from the Steelers offense. According to Next Gen Stats, it was Pittsburgh's first play-action passing touchdown since Week 11 of the 2020 season.
On the Steelers' game-winning touchdown, the Ravens sent a seven-man blitz from the 5-yard line and Johnson snapped off a good inside-out route on Marlon Humphrey to break away.
Even though Ravens defense was beaten on a couple times on Cover-0 blitzes, it doesn't mean Martindale is going to shy away from using them.
"There have been plenty of times we've won with zero pressure, as well. So, we're going to be who we are," Martindale said.
"And will we do things different? I think we do things different all the time. Are we going to play a different gameplan than what we played against Cleveland the first time? There are always punches and counterpunches in a game, and that's what you'll see Sunday, and that's what Pittsburgh will see the next time we play them and everything else."