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1. What can the Ravens do to create an offensive spark?

The Ravens' dormant offense has scored just one touchdown in the past eight quarters, reaching the end zone last Sunday during a 41-7 loss to New England on a quarterback sneak from Joe Flacco. This isn't a new development. The Ravens rank 26th in scoring offense, averaging 20.2 points per game. They've been outscored by opponents this season, 318-303. Just once this year have the Ravens scored 30 points, and that was in the third game of the season against the Houston Texans, with middle linebacker Daryl Smith scoring on an interception return and Tandon Doss running back a punt for a touchdown. After drawing praise for orchestrating an offensive turnaround during the playoffs last season, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell (above) has accepted some blame for the offensive regression. Of course, the Ravens have struggled to run the football and rank 28th in rushing offense, have allowed 46 sacks and are 30th in red-zone offense. Flacco, meanwhile, has thrown a career-high 19 interceptions. "There's a number of things we can do better, no question about that," Caldwell said. "That certainly starts with me. I've got to do a better job of helping these guys in different situations, third downs, down in the red zone and converting them, and getting ourselves in situations where we have an opportunity to start a fresh drive or a fresh set of downs. That's something that has been giving us a few problems here and there. "We just haven't been as efficient as I'd like to. Also, we have to be able to get some yardage on the ground, particularly when teams are dropping a number of guys into coverage. When you do that in the red zone, it makes windows a lot tighter. It makes it a lot more difficult to throw the ball. Either you are throwing underneath passes, where guys have to run for it and get you some more yards, or you have to be able to run the ball. Both of those things, we can continue to improve at." The Ravens have found it difficult to get tight end Dennis Pitta more involved since his return from a right hip injury. In three games, Pitta has caught 12 passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. If the Ravens could use Pitta more and keep defenses honest with an improved running game, it could open up things downfield for wide receivers Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown. "When guys run that fast, can catch the ball and create problems for you, you're going to find some creative ways to try to take him out of the game or disrupt him a little bit," Caldwell said of Pitta. "They've been trying to disrupt him quite a bit and hit him as he comes off the line from different angles, just to slow him down a little bit. The good thing about him is he finds a way. He'll make a play where they'll try to double-team him or leave him in a one-on-one situation and try to disrupt him physically. "He's slippery enough and cagey enough to be able to still find a way to get open. Also, the nice thing about him is the fact that, when he gets doubled, that means somebody else is single-covered. We have to have some other guys that step up, as well. I think you do see that from time to time; we've just got to be sharper at what we do. There's a lot of different guys Joe will do a great job of spreading it around, so Dennis doesn't have to carry the whole load for us."
Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun
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