Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said that one of the coaching staff's "projects" during the bye week would be working on the Ravens running game, but then against the Jaguars, the Ravens came out and all but ignored the running game early once again.
The Ravens ran 33 offensive plays in the first half against Jacksonville -- 28 passes and five runs, and one of the runs was a 16-yard scramble by Joe Flacco that was supposed to be a pass. So on 29 of the Ravens 33 offensive snaps in the first half -- and 17 of 18 in the second quarter -- the Ravens dropped back to pass.
If that sounds familiar, it should; against San Diego the week before the bye, the Ravens threw on 11 of 12 second-quarter snaps (not counting a late kneel-down by Flacco).
It's a curious play distribution given that running back Justin Forsett and the veteran offensive line was viewed as a strength of the offense, and that the injury to Steve Smith Sr. has left the Ravens with a highly unproven cast of wide receivers.
"The run game is something to talk about," Harbaugh said at his Monday news conference. "We were looking at it hard this morning, this afternoon, with the coaches. Early in the game, we’re a block here and a block there away from popping runs. But a block here and a block there doesn’t get it done."
"We’d like to run the ball more; there’s no question," he later added.
Harbaugh said he was pleased with how the passing game "made strides," against the Jaguars, but he acknowledged that the Ravens "could have called a few more runs" in the first half. He explained that the Jaguars, who boast a top-10 run defense, were crowding eight players within 4 or 5 yards of the line of scrimmage Plus, Harbaugh said, the final drive of the half was a two-minute drill that relied on passing.
The Ravens attempted just four rushes (not counting Flacco's scramble) in the first half. Justin Forsett ran two times for 2 yards, and Buck Allen ran twice for 1.
"In the first half, we weren’t getting much," Harbaugh said. "If we could have converted a couple more first downs there, you would have seen more runs. It’s something we had planned on doing. We were going to run it at them anyway, but we just didn’t get the opportunities that we wanted to.”
Forsett finished with 53 yards on 14 carries.
"We had some nice runs in the second half," Harbaugh said.
Overall this year, the Ravens rank 23rd in the league in rushing with 98.1 yards a game. Their yardage per carry (4.01) ranks 18th. Last year the Ravens averaged 126.2 yards, which ranked 8th.
Despite the disappearance of the run game at times, Forsett has 615 yards through nine games and is on pace to top 1,000 yards for the second straight year.
"We just have to stick with it," Forsett said after Sunday's game, "and we have to execute when the runs are called.”