Ravens' Run Game 'A Work In Progress,' But May Be On The Cusp Of Breaking Out


The Ravens are 2-0 so far without a strong run game.

They're happy, but that doesn't mean they're content with continuing to win games that way. And the passing offense would get a boost with more success running the football.

"Just generally speaking, we want to improve our run game," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "We want that to be a factor. We want people to have to deal with it. That's what's important for us right now."

It's just two games, but Baltimore is 23rd in rushing yards per game (81.5 yards) and 30th in average yards per rushing attempt (3.0). It's a continuation of last year, when the Ravens ranked 26th in rushing yards per game (92.4) and 24th in yards per attempt (3.9).

"I think it's a work in progress," Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda said. "Obviously, we would want to run the ball better in those first two games. We just need to keep working at it. … I think that it's going to get better."

The Ravens have run well when it has mattered most late in games as they try to protect leads and milk the clock, but they haven't found any consistency and haven't broken any long gallops. Wide receiver Mike Wallace is tied with running back Justin Forsett for the longest run on the team (11 yards).

"That's annoying," Forsett said with a laugh.

"We've just got to stay committed. Looking at film, we're right on the cusp of having some big runs. We've got to be on the same page, we've got to make the right cuts as runners and everybody else has to do their job. When we do that and we're on the same page, we'll have some big runs here."

This Sunday may be a good opportunity. The Jaguars are tied for 26th in the league in rush defense and have allowed 122.5 yards per game. San Diego put up 150 yards against Jacksonville last week.

Still, Baltimore knows it won't be easy this Sunday. This will be the third straight year facing the Jags, and they've all been physical games.

Part of it may be finding the types of runs that suit the Ravens best. They were successful with the zone-stretch scheme in 2014, when they finished seventh in the league in yards per attempt (4.5) and eighth in yards per game (126.2).

This year, Baltimore is mixing up its scheme between that zone-stretch, some gap scheme and tight zone, Yanda said.

"I feel like the run game changes every year. It's not always going to be exactly the same," Yanda said. "We're definitely throwing a few wrinkles in there, not just all zone."

Yanda said it's a variety of little problems from a missed assignment to a missed block. Forsett said fans and pundits shouldn't just pin it on the two rookies starting on the left side of the line – first-round pick Ronnie Stanley and left guard Alex Lewis.

"Everybody wants to point the finger at somebody, but it's a collective effort," Forsett said. "We've all got to do our job as runners and receivers. When it's a successful run game, everybody is doing their job."

At running back, Forsett and Terrance West have essentially split the job right down the middle – with practically equal results. Forsett has 24 runs for 78 yards and a long of 11 yards. West has 23 carries for 74 yards and a long of 10. Forsett has caught two more passes for three more yards.

The Ravens haven't had a* *clear leader emerge. They're hoping rookie fourth-round pick Kenneth Dixon, who is still rehabbing a knee injury, can pick up where he left off in the preseason when he looked like the most impressive option.

"Everybody wants 20 carries, but my job as a running back, and the way it's always been, is to control what you can control," Forsett said.

Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman will continue to pull different levers to try to jumpstart his run game. He's been creative so far, especially using tosses to get his running backs on the edges quicker. It's worked at times, and not others.

"You just run the play that's called in the game," Yanda said. "You do that to the best of your ability and that's all you can do. We'll look at it on Monday. We'll look at the tape and then decide what we need to work on and keep grinding. [We] understand it's a long season and will keep working at it."

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