OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens’ standard formula for success is having their standout defense dominate the game while receiving only a marginal assist from the offense.
To this point, the imbalance has been exceedingly disproportionate.
Baltimore ranks last in the NFL in passing yardage and total offense, in part because the defense was so good in a season-opening shutout of Cincinnati and a 24-10 win over Cleveland.
No one started to complain about the production of the offense until last Sunday, when the Ravens managed just one first down before halftime in a 44-7 loss to Jacksonville.
“Those first two games, we did what we had to do,” quarterback Joe Flacco said Wednesday. “Then we lose one game and didn’t play well, and now you just lump those first two games in with that game and act like we haven’t played well at all when it’s really not the truth.”
These numbers, however, are definitely true: Flacco has more interceptions than touchdown passes (4-3), no Baltimore wide receiver has more than seven catches and only eight teams have fewer first downs.
“Those first two games, the stats aren’t going to be there,” Flacco said. “You can’t look at that and say we played bad,”
And last week?
“No matter how you do it, when you look at stats or look at the film, they’re both going to go hand in hand in that it wasn’t very good,” Flacco said.
But the Ravens (2-1) can take over first place in the AFC North with a win over Pittsburgh (2-1) on Sunday, so there’s no reason to panic.
The offensive line should improve after it adjusts to a season-ending injury to Marshal Yanda, who left the Cleveland game and joined guards Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa on injured reserve.
Matt Skura and Jermaine Eluemunor switched off at right guard against Jacksonville. Neither has the talent of Yanda, a six-time Pro Bowler, but they got off to a decent start.
“I wasn’t at all displeased with how the two young right guards played,” coach John Harbaugh said. “But across the board, we had an issue here and an issue there that ended up hurting us.”
Not one person can be cited for the offense’s lack of production. More to the point, it’s been a team effort.
“When one or two guys do something wrong each single play, they add up,” Flacco said.
Thus far, the sum total is only six touchdowns and an average of 17 points per game.
“Moving forward, we definitely have a lot of work to do,” said tight end Benjamin Watson, who leads the team with 11 catches and 103 yards receiving. “It hasn’t been good enough offensively. I think everybody on offense would say that.”
Include Harbaugh in that group.
“We’re working really hard to be a lot better than we’ve been,” Harbaugh said. “We recognize that we’re not playing the kind of football on offense that’s going to put a lot of points on the scoreboard.”