OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ offense has a newfound problem.
Since week one of the season against the hapless Dolphins, the Ravens haven’t been able to generate big plays at the same rate. Starting in week two, they’ve got just 20 offensive plays of 20 yards or more.
And with Marquise Brown currently out of the lineup, that’s becoming a bigger issue.
“Marquise can definitely affect the game that way, but we’ve got guys that can do it as well,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “A lot of it starts with how the defense chooses to play, but we’re always looking for more for sure. It’s definitely a focus of ours, I would say. There’s a lot of different ways to do it.”
Baltimore started the season with a bang in Miami and hung 59 points on a terrible Dolphins team. Since then, though, the explosive plays have dried up.
The Ravens have just four rushing plays of 20-yards or more since week two — three came last week against the Bengals.
Lamar Jackson threw five passes that ended with gains of 20 yards or more in the second week of the season against the Cardinals, but that number has decreased by one each week to just one passing play over 20 yards last week against the Bengals.
In the only three passing plays of 20 yards or more against the Browns, all came in the last drive of the game when the game’s outcome was already decided.
“You're not going to throw behind them if they're back,” coach John Harbaugh said on Sept. 30, a day after the Browns game. “So, you just have to make plays. If a team is going to play that kind of defense — you want to call it 'bend-but-don't-break,' whatever you want to call it —and they're basically challenging you to go down the field and have a long drive and score a touchdown.”
Since the first three weeks of the season, however, teams have been afraid of the Ravens speed and forced Jackson to beat them deep. For the most part, it’s worked.
Jackson threw 21 passes more than 20 yards in the air in the first three weeks of the season. He went 8-of-21 in those weeks with two touchdowns (both against Miami) but is 0-for-7 with two interceptions since the Chiefs game.
Overall, Jackson is 8-of-28 (28.5 completion percentage) with two touchdowns and two interceptions when throwing for more than 20 yards in the air.
With defenses putting a cover on the Ravens offense, they’ve been forced to settle for shorter, high-percentage plays. At least to an extent, it’s been efficient.
The Ravens offensive DVOA, a measure of how efficient an offense is, is 13.3 percent which ranks fourth in the NFL behind Seattle, Dallas and Kansas City, according to footballoutsiders.com.
While the Ravens offense hasn’t suffered because of the lack of big plays, there’s a chance that day could come if teams shut down their quick game.
Additionally, a few extra explosive plays per week are what could turn this offense from very good to great.
“There’s some plays I think we could’ve hit on the last couple weeks, we can do a little better with and that’s something we need to work at,” Roman said. “But I think every week is a little bit different, so we’ll see how this one goes.”
MORE RAVENS NEWS: