By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
7:36 AM EDT, October 18, 2013
It was supposed to be a fresh start for the Ravens' offensive line, unveiling new left Eugene Monroe last Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
While Monroe was largely solid in his starting debut since being acquired via trade with the notable exception of a sack and forced fumble allowed to outside linebacker Nick Perry, the offensive line overall had far too many breakdowns.
They allowed a season-high five sacks during a 19-17 loss.
That included three sacks for inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, who went unblocked on delay blitzes as he ran right past center Gino Gradkowski and offensive guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele.
"We’ve got to get better in all of those phases," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "We had a couple of glitches, and when those things happen, particularly when guys that you’re playing against run as fast as, as well as, and tackle as well as [they do], those plays are going to result in some sort of a loss for you. We have to eliminate that.
"There are a few mistakes here and there. It’s not just a one-person or one-area problem, but without question, that’s a pretty glaring error that occurred. We’ve got to get it worked out, and we’ve been working on it. We know what the problem was in terms of assignments and those kinds of things, but we’ve got to put it all together.”
It wasn't the only problem for the Ravens.
They didn't get adequate push in the red zone in the second quarter as running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were stuffed four times as a prime first-and-goal situation led to zero points when Pierce got tackled short of the goal line on 4th-and-1.
“Every play had its own problems," Caldwell said. "That saying, ‘You’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose.’ You look at it, and you’re just a hair away here or there. Good teams block well, don’t have the same type of issues we’ve had.
"That’s where we’ve got to get to. We’re an outstanding football team, but we’re not playing like it now. That’s what we have to do. We have to clean those things up.”
The Ravens now rank 22nd in total offense, gaining 335.7 yards per game.
They're 27th in rushing offense, gaining just 72.7 yards per game, 12th in passing offense (263 yards per game) and 18th in scoring with 22 points per game.
Caldwell denied that there's been a major increase of zone-blocking schemes under new run-game coordinator Juan Castillo,
"We had a pretty good mixture of both man and zone," Caldwell said. "I think we’ll probably continue to work some of those. The running game is one where you can’t just do one thing. You have to have a wide variety of things, so we do a little bit of everything.”
Can the Ravens make enough changes on the fly heading into Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
Or will changes have to wait until the bye week following this game?
Ravens coach John Harbaugh suggested Monday that there would be changes with many interpreting that to mean the defending Super Bowl champions will be simplifying their blocking schemes and going back to more old-school techniques.
"In some cases, you have to make some," Caldwell said. "If things aren’t going extremely well, you’ve got to make some adjustments. We look at every single aspect when things aren’t going well. This business, that’s the great thing about it, is a meritocracy. It’s how well you perform. It’s a performance business.
"When you’re not performing, you better look at every single thing that you’re doing to see if you can find out what the answer is and not just sit on your hands and say that it’s going to be OK. We look at everything from a scheme standpoint, personnel, the whole bit. We’ve got to make the necessary adjustments to see if we can get this thing rolling.”