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Ravens’ defensive struggles a result of players ‘trying to do too much,' coach John Harbaugh says

Sports columnist Mike Preston gives his instant analysis of the Ravens' 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Monday said execution, not communication, is at the root of the team’s defensive struggles in recent weeks.

After multiple players in the secondary said communication wasn’t sufficient, Harbaugh denied that notion last week, saying it was a “buzzword.”

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“I think we’re overplaying some of our zone coverages," Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference Monday. “We’re overplaying some routes, we’re chasing some patterns that really fall in the category of trying to do too much."

One of the more egregious instances during Sunday’s 40-25 loss to the Cleveland Browns came on a 59-yard catch-and-run by tight end Ricky Seals-Jones

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Safety Tony Jefferson was lined up across from Seals-Jones in the slot but dropped to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was lined up against cornerback Marlon Humphrey on the outside and ran a dig route.

Seals-Jones ran a seam route and was left wide-open for another large gain.

“The one, I think, maybe it was one of the tight ends, I know one of those was a coverage bust by me,” Humphrey said after the game. “I can’t be doing that. I have to know the coverage, know what we’re doing, how we’re playing it that week and execute it.”

Harbaugh added that players overcompensating hurt the run defense, where the Ravens gave up 193 rushing yards and an 88-yard touchdown run, the longest allowed in franchise history.

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“Whatever problems we had yesterday, it was trying to do too much,” Harbaugh said. “Trying to pursue too hard. Overplaying plays, overpursuing to the ball and things running behind us. Jumping things and things getting behind us. That was the issue, it wasn’t guys not doing enough.”

Extra points

>> Harbaugh said that the team decided to give Jefferson the helmet with communication capabilities against the Browns to simplify the defense.

Inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor entered the season with communication responsibilities and handled it through the team’s first three games.

“We did it that way last year with [former Ravens safety] Eric [Weddle],” Harbaugh said. "It took a little bit off [Onwuasor’s] plate, and it seemed like it worked out well. Tony’s a little older. He’s been around a little longer. So it seemed like a good move.”

>> Harbaugh declined to comment on an NFL Network report claiming safety Earl Thomas III and defensive tackle Brandon Williams engaged in a “heated” talk in the team’s training room after the loss, particularly regarding Williams being inactive following a late Saturday addition to the injury report.

“Anything that happens in the locker room, these are grown men,” Harbaugh said. “It’s kind of our business.”

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