Yet another disappointing performance for the Ravens on the big stage in New England under the bright (albeit blurry from the storm) Sunday Night Football lights has called for needed introspection into a team now tied with the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.
NBC Sports' Chris Simms is among the analysts dissecting the three-loss Baltimore squad's troubles overcoming the NFL's best of the best. Against the most "outside-of-the-box" coaches like Bill Belichick or Mike Vrabel, making the Ravens offense a one-dimensional one according to Simms.
"Overall, the biggest thing that holds Baltimore back -- and this is going to go back to what you're saying with the leads and everything -- when you play a coach like Bill Belichick, or Mike Vrabel, or Steve Spagnolo, who are outside-the-box thinkers, they go, 'The pass game is easy," Simms said. "'They run the same things every week, so I know where they're going to be and I can take some more chances in the run game and stop it that way.' To me, that's the biggest thing holding them back. There's no doubt about it."
Last week, Lamar Jackson told Rich Eisen last week that defenses knew what plays the Ravens were about to run. Then, after another game in which the Ravens failed to establish the running game, too much of an impetus was put on Jackson's shoulders.
Simms said more creative playcalling such as speed sweeps and screens to set the speedy Marquise Brown up to create more opportunities for the stagnant offense.
"The pass game has to improve that way," Simms said. "It's not diverse enough to stress out the really good defenses."
Brown has expressed his frustration on social media with his lack of involvement in the Ravens offense, and Simms says he's seen the frustration in the form of on-field conversations between Brown and Jackson.
"There's stress in that relationship," said Simms. "They're friends, Lamar and Hollywood. You can see he wants to get him the ball. "I do think there's pressure on that relationship overall."
Simms added the weather conditions certainly played in New England's favor in Foxborough on Sunday night. With an offense that has more of a big-play threat than the Patriots, the downpour of rain also slowed down the track for one of the fastest players in the league in Jackson. Mark Ingram failed to get going in his first game back after missing the last four while Gus Edwards' downhill-style running was preferred to J.K. Dobbins' skill set. Dobbins only got five touches, another indication of the problems that result from Ravens playing from behind.
If the running game is met with a defense up to the task and Baltimore is forced to play from behind through the air, Simms said he thinks the Ravens don't have a No. 1 target like Arizona's DeAndre Hopkins to make a difference.