Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken wasn't surprised to hear questions about the Ravens' recent red zone troubles,[comma] but he's more interested in finding answers.
The Ravens have struggled in the red zone the past two weeks and were 1-for-6 against the Titans. Monken sees remedies for the issue as Baltimore prepares to host the Lions on Sunday.
"It starts with how we game plan it, how we call it, and then how we execute it," Monken said. "It's really that simple. We did an elite level early on and executed down there being able to run it in. We just have to do a better job of – like I said – scheming it, do a better job of executing it when we have those opportunities.
"We've done a good job the last couple of weeks of moving the football. That has not been the issue. We've solved some of those things in terms of being more explosive; creating our own identity; having a better rhythm. But turnovers and execution at the wrong times have hurt us – there's no way around it. You've seen it, and we have to be better, and we're capable of better. That's the way it is, we are capable of it."
In Week 5, several dropped passes in the red zone cost the Ravens and they didn't run the ball effectively in the red zone against Tennessee. Monken sees the pieces in place for Baltimore to be difficult to stop in the red zone, but they can't afford to stop themselves.
"It starts with me," Monken said. "We've got to scheme it better, we've got to coach it better, we've got to give ourselves more tools where we have opportunities down there. It's hard to run the ball down there and score."
Second Half Struggles Have Also Plagued Offense
The Ravens haven't scored a second-half touchdown in two straight games, but Monken doesn't believe it's because the offense has lost its aggressiveness or been behind on making second-half adjustments.
Against Pittsburgh, Nelson Algohor had a long pass slip through his hands in the second half after getting behind the defense that could've been a touchdown. In the Tennessee game, the Ravens came out throwing on their first drive of the second half, but lost three yards on a first-down screen pass and went three-and-out. Lamar Jackson threw an interception on the next drive, setting another inconsistent second half on offense in motion.
Jackson suggested Wednesday that second-half defensive adjustments made by opponents have given the Ravens some issues. However, Monken said it's a matter of the Ravens needing to execute better.
"I appreciate what Lamar says," Monken said. "It wasn't as if we were consistently running the same things; we just have to do it better. That doesn't mean he's wrong. I'm not critiquing Lamar. The bottom line is we've done a good job in the first half of executing, and we have to do a better job in the second half. There is no magic formula – you have to scheme it better, coach it better, execute better and let your talent shine.
The Ravens outscored opponents 41-6 in the first quarter, so at least getting out of the gate hasn't been an issue.
"Crazy enough, we've started fast," Monken said. "We've given ourselves opportunities and wasted some. Obviously, it's your ability to start fast and then finish. We all know that. That's what you're striving for."
Odafe Oweh Upgraded to Full Participant, Ronald Darby Dealing With Illness
It appears outside linebacker Odafe Oweh is getting closer to returning to game action, possibly this Sunday, as he was a full practice participant Thursday.
Oweh returned to practice Wednesday after missing the past four games because of an ankle injury. He was limited Wednesday but got in a full workload one day later.
His return would boost a pass rush that's already tied atop the NFL with 24 sacks.
Defensive end Brent Urban (neck stinger) returned to practice Thursday, as did outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who got the day off on Wednesday. Urban was limited.
Cornerback Ronald Darby (illness) did not practice Thursday. Safety Marcus Williams (hamstring) and cornerback Kevon Seymour (ankle) were again sidelined.
Rashod Bateman Feels He's Catching Up**
Wide receiver Rashod Bateman missed most of last season and most of the summer practices as he worked his way back from his major foot injury. Then Bateman missed the Week 4 game in Cleveland because of a hamstring injury.
Bateman has 10 catches for 82 yards through five games but feels like things are going in the right direction for his connection with quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I feel like we're almost there," Bateman said. "Obviously, I missed a lot of time and I've got a lot of catching up to do. It is what it is. That's why we practice. My teammates still have trust in me, we have trust in them. We have to continue to do our thing. As long as we're getting the W's, I think that's all that matters."