Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions after the
Boyne: The defense looks to have lost its swagger, the way it did when
Mike Preston: It seems like the Ravens have lost a defensive coordinator every year for about a decade going back to
Andy In Hagerstown: We are now into our bye week and our offense continues to befuddle. The Ravens and Joe Flacco are world beaters at home and can be downright brutal on the road. Some of the disparities in statistics are by far the starkest in the NFL. These would include Flacco's stats as well as more pedestrian stats like time of possession and scoring. What do
Mike Preston: First of all, they have to know when to pull the plug on the passing game. When Flacco is having a bad game, they have to take the ball out of his hands and give it to Rice more. They have to get a better balance of run versus pass, and not give up on the run so quickly. Against quality defensive teams like the Texans or the
I think Flacco is a good quarterback and is having a pretty good season, but he doesn't play well enough on a weekly basis to carry the offense. At this point, the best option might be more Rice, less Flacco.
Brian from Silverdale, Wash.: Why did the OC give up on using Ray Rice in the first quarter of the game? I know they are 5-2 and are in first place, but this offense is so frustrating this year. They have no identity!
Mike Preston: The OC, also known as Cam Cameron, got away from the run too quickly. He has confidence in Flacco and wants to build the offense around him, but Flacco isn't that type of quarterback, like a
Brian Williams in Burtonsville: I would like to know why the Ravens persist in using the bunch formation. I never see anything good come from it. I understand the concept; they just can't seem to execute it.
Mike Preston: If you can't pass block, you can munch, crunch or bunch, and it won't matter. The formation wasn't the problem Sunday. The Ravens couldn't pass block and Flacco had a poor day.
The coaches have said the defensive players are having trouble getting off blocks. Why are they not doing more stunts, twists, and other ways to confuse the offense? I would think more movement would hide where the defense is coming from and hide some of the issues the defense has.
Mike Preston: I saw stunts, movement and slants. I also saw the Ravens defensive linemen failing to get off blocks after engaging. We can talk about all the different strategies you want, but it comes down to winning one-on-one matchups. The Ravens failed to do that and also keep offensive linemen off their inside linebackers. Harbaugh has talked about making changes, and it might be time to insert some of the younger players like defensive linemen
Steven in Randallstown:
Mike Preston: Sorry, Steven. "Puddin" is the nickname former Ravens offensive lineman
It has to change if the Ravens are to get better.
Mike Preston: James, if you think Williams is that bad, go back a few years and remember
Williams hasn't played well, but he might improve if the Ravens could get a consistent pass rush.
Mark A. Frazier Sr.: Why do the Ravens corners play so far off of the other team's receivers? They don't seem to get close until after they catch the ball. Why don't we play press coverage?
Mike Preston: They can't press, Mark. They are too soft and don't jam receivers off the line of scrimmage. It's not a physical group. At the beginning of training camp, the secondary was expected to be the strongest defensive unit. Now it's just as bad as the others. I think if the Ravens thought they could be physical at the point of attack, they would be. Apparently, the Ravens don't believe that.
Right now, I'll just settle for them not getting beat by double moves.
Joe (Boston): Are we at a point now, after the Texans and Dallas games, that we have to conclude that the fundamental flaws of the current Ravens team started with an overestimation of the existing talent on the team that led to one too many offseason free-agent departures? I can't help but wonder if we really needed to keep at least Ben Grubbs and preferably
Mike Preston: That's hindsight now. The Ravens have been one of the best drafting teams in the NFL for more than a decade and they've usually had good transition periods with veterans leaving and the youngsters playing. So far this year, it hasn't turned out that way, but there is still a slim chance.
I think the Ravens can do a better job drafting, but overall I'd take their staff over 90 percent of the others in the NFL when it comes to selecting college players.
Scott in N.C.: As Ravens fans we are accustomed to the young draft choices stepping up and performing well in years two and up, thereby filling in gaps when the veterans seek big bucks elsewhere and move on. This necessary strategy has worked well, but top defensive picks since 2008 haven't lived up to expectations. Is the magic of picking defensive players in the draft gone? Our most recent top defensive picks have been
Mike Preston: Drafting players is a gamble. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. If I were a betting man going to Vegas, I'd sure like to have