The Ravens have returned to their Owings Mills practice facility after the four-day bye week holiday, and now they are focusing on beating the Steelers Sunday and ending a four-game losing streak that has threatened to scuttle their season just as it reaches the midway point.
Although the season technically won’t be half over until after the Steelers game Sunday, with the bye week it’s logical to look at the coming nine games as the second half of the season.
If the Ravens want to right this ship and contend for a playoff spot, here are five numbers that simply must change:
2: Sacks by linebackers not named Terrell Suggs.
And this number was zero before rookie Matt Judon recorded a pair of sacks against the Jets. Suggs is expected to return from his biceps injury, but it remains unclear how effective he will be. Elvis Dumervil missed the first three games, returned to play in two, but he showed no explosiveness and was back on the sideline until further notice.
The Ravens pass rush from the edge has been nonexistent for long stretches this season. Judon, Za’Darius Smith and Kamalei Correa have to make an impact.
5.58 – The Ravens average gain per pass play, which ranks 30th in the league and represents the lowest total in Joe Flacco’s nine-year career.
Much of the criticism was directed at departed offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and his preference for dink-and-dunk passing. Flacco aired the ball out more in the past two games under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and that should continue.
Breshad Perriman needs to be better, and getting Steve Smith back from injury should help. He piles up a lot of yardage after the catch.
11: The Ravens rank last in the league with 11 touchdowns – 10 on offense plus a fumble recovery touchdown on special teams by Chris Moore.
The Ravens have relied far too often on Justin Tucker’s foot for their scoring – he leads the league with 18 field goals.
The Ravens must do a better job of reaching the red zone – they never even got inside the Jets’ 25-yard line – and then they must do a better job of finishing drives in the end zone. They rank 19th in red zone efficiency.
13: Catches through seven games for Kamar Aiken.
After making 75 catches for 944 yards last season, Aiken clearly became the odd man out in a revamped receiving corps that featured arrival of Mike Wallace and the return of Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman from injury.
Aiken should be a larger part of the offense moving forward, particulary on short and intermediate routes.
56: Penalties committed by the Ravens through seven games.
Time and again this season, penalties have taken the air out of a Ravens drive, leaving them with first-and-20 or third-and-14. The Ravens are on pace for 128 penalties this season, which would be the second-most in team history.