The Ravens had just beaten the Chargers to pick up their second win of the season, and Head Coach John Harbaugh laid out the upcoming week's schedule to his team in the locker room.
"What we have to do is come in tomorrow and go to work," Harbaugh said. "We're going to take care of business Tuesday and Wednesday. That's what we're going to do. We have a plan."
The players were back in the building early Monday morning, and they practiced Tuesday and Wednesday as allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The coaching staff plans to work through Thursday before getting a few days off with their families.
The Ravens took full advantage of the bye, and here are some of the team's priorities during this "off week:"
The coaching staff spent the week looking back through the first half of the season to determine what works and what didn't. They are often so consumed with game planning during normal weeks that they don't have much time to take a big-picture look at themselves.
"This gives us a week to take a deep breath in terms of where we are offensively," Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman said. "We'll self-scout ourselves and tendency ourselves and look at the things we want to continue to move forward with, the things that we want to work on a little bit more and things we're going to get out of the offense that we really haven't used to the amount and time on task that we've put into it."
Get Ideas From Around The League
The coaching staff also spent time looking at what's worked for other teams to determine if certain strategies can be implemented in Baltimore. Coaches will often share ideas with former colleagues – as long as there isn't a shared competitive interest between them – and bye weeks can be a chance to do that.
"We'll look around the league, and we'll see what's going on around the league and see what some of the teams that have done very well in certain special situation areas are doing," Trestman said. "We'll put that up against what we're doing, and we'll come to some conclusions on how to move forward."
Improve Pass Rush
The Ravens pass rush suffered a huge blow when outside linebacker Terrell Suggs went down for the season in Week 1, and the defensive front has spent much of the year working*to overcome his loss. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has tried to manufacture pressure by getting creative in his blitz packages, and the Ravens are tied for sixth in the NFL with 21 sacks. But the defense would also like to *pressure quarterbacks without having to send too many blitzes, and the coaches in the defensive front took a good look at that during the week.
"I believe the best pass defense is a good pass rush, and those things work together," Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino said. "And right now, we're not getting it done on either end. I know that our secondary guys would cover a lot better if we could get the ball out of the quarterback's hand much faster, and that's what our mission has been from the beginning."
Find Out How To Stop Big Plays
The most significant issue plaguing the Ravens this year has been allowing too many big plays in the secondary. The unit had a better overall game against the Chargers, but still allowed a 70-yard touchdown pass. Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees have harped on the need to stop big plays all season. Defensive coaches dug into tape to identify* *issues and also worked on them during practice.
"We've got to do a much better job of teaching those guys to have their eyes in the right place, making sure we're on the right landmarks and playing with that proper technique," Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt said. "That falls on me. That's my job to make sure that happens. We've given up a couple big plays in the last couple games, and we don't want it to become a common thread."
Find Some 'Quick Hitters'
As the defense looks to cut down on the big plays, the offense is seeking ways to sustain drives. The offense ranks in the top 10 in the league in terms of total yardage, but the unit has been hot-and-cold this year. They need to improve on third downs to keep drives alive, and quarterback Joe Flacco said they spent time during the week "trying to get some easy ways to move the ball and get some quick hitters."
"[We need to find] some certain areas of the field that we feel like we can take more advantage of," Flacco said. "In third-and-short, we haven't been great, and [we are] just trying to come up with some better ways to be better in those areas."