Ravens Confident Their Offense Will Take Off, And It's Not Far Away


The Ravens are 3-0, but have one of the lowest-ranked offenses in the NFL.

Baltimore is ranked 25th in league in yards per game (324.3) and 24th in points per game (19). The Ravens have scored just four touchdowns in three games.

No offensive skill player has reached the end zone outside of wide receiver Mike Wallace. In Sunday's win in Jacksonville, quarterback Joe Flacco – coming off ACL surgery – ran in the team's only touchdown himself and finished the first half as the Ravens' rushing leader.

The Ravens have gotten 28 points off touchdowns and extra points and 27 points off Justin Tucker's right leg via field goals, including the 54-yard game-winner in Jacksonville.

That's the bad news. The good news is, the Ravens believe they're going to pull out of their offensive lull to start the season, and there's reason to believe that's true.

"We need to score touchdowns, and I am very confident that we can get there with our offense," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I don't think that we are far away."

Harbaugh also made another key point. He said the Ravens "do what you have to do to win a game."

The way the Ravens' No. 2-ranked defense has played so far, against offenses that haven't been lighting up scoreboards, Baltimore has largely been able to play a field-position, low-scoring affair.

However, when the Ravens were down 20 points in the first quarter in Cleveland, the offense came alive and charged back with three straight scoring drives.

That said, Baltimore ideally wants to put the ball in the end zone on every drive. The Ravens don't want to keep playing close games.

"If we had been able to score touchdowns in that game, it would not have come down to what it came down to," Harbaugh said, referring to the 19-17 win in Jacksonville.

Wallace had a chance to haul in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Flacco that would have given the Ravens a 20-7 lead at the start of the second half (and extended Flacco's consecutive completions streak to 22). That touchdown could have been a dagger into a Jags team that had no momentum at that point.

Instead, the Jags came back down the field for a touchdown of their own and it was a dog fight the rest of the way.

"We have to play a little bit cleaner – and it's not just cleaner – I think, on offense, we have to find ways to get more points," Flacco said. "We played a solid three quarters of football, but we're not scoring points. We got [19] points. We need to put the ball in the end zone more. That's what's going to get us over the top."

Wallace has been the Ravens' best red-zone threat so far, but wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., tight end Dennis Pitta and others should also be sure-handed options that Flacco can rely on.

But when looking at those targets, they're all still regaining their timing with Flacco.

Smith Sr. missed half of last year with an Achilles injury and is now getting back into form, as shown by his eight catches for 87 yards in Jacksonville.

Pitta missed the past two years and, while his nine-catch game in Cleveland shows he still has a strong connection with his buddy and quarterback, their miscommunication-turned-interception in Jacksonville shows there's still work to be done.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman now has three games under his belt with Flacco after missing his entire rookie year because of a knee injury.

In terms of the running game, there's a new left side to the offensive line with rookies Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis. Running back Justin Forsett missed half of last year with a broken arm and Terrance West is stepping into a larger role for the first time.

Flacco said that if the Ravens can get some chunks in the running game, it will make it easier to get the ball in the end zone. He said it's something the Ravens "need to do."

"I think we're a team that's growing as we're moving along here," Flacco said. "We have a lot moving parts and guys that haven't played with us before. At some point, we're building up, building up, building up and, all of a sudden it turns over really quickly. That's what I'm hoping for is it to turn over very quickly and for us to explode as an offense and really take off."

This week's opponent, the Oakland Raiders, have the worst-ranked defense in the league. They've allowed 476 yards per game (32nd) and 26.3 points per game (22nd).

After giving up 507 and 528 yards in the first two weeks to the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, respectively, Oakland's defense improved in allowing 393 yards and just 10 points to the Tennessee Titans last week.

"You don't just have to improve and get better; you have to outpace the competition," Harbaugh said. "Everybody is getting better every week. We may be getting better, but the results might not be getting better because the defenses that we are playing are improving too."

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