The Ravens appear to have found the right formula for winning on offense, but it has as much to do with the improved play of the offensive line as it does a change in philosophy.
The key word in the NFL is consistency and once the Ravens found it on the line, they got it on offense. It's no coincidence that it all began with the return of left guard Ben Grubbs to the starting lineup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 6th.
Since then, the Ravens are 3-1. They have surrendered just one sack in the last three games, and quarterback Joe Flacco looks more comfortable in the pocket than ever. While the Ravens are putting the ball in the hands of running back Ray Rice now more than earlier in the year, they still continue to keep teams off balance.
They have a good short passing game to complement a steady running attack and the opposition can't just shorten the field defensively against the Ravens because of the Flacco to Torrey Smith long-ball connection.
All of the new found success can't be attributed to Grubbs, but his familiarity with the offense has helped a once-struggling Bryant McKinnie, the starting left tackle. Grubbs also gives the Ravens more power up the middle and his athleticism helps boost plays like screens, tosses and traps.
Since his return, the line play has improved and Flacco certainly isn't taking as much of a pounding. With five games remaining, the line play should improve even more.
Need to run right
The Ravens have a lot of work to do on short-yardage situations, and in some cases, it's not as easy to correct as some think.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron deserves some blame for the failures against San Francisco, but the players deserve some, too.
In the past, the Ravens have run to the left in certain situations, but Grubbs might not have total ability to push off because of his toe injury and Matt Birk is more of a finesse center than a physical one.
It's apparent that the Ravens either have to run to the right behind fullback Vonta Leach, guard Marshal Yanda or tackle Michael Oher (which isn't a bad idea), or Cameron has to come up with something tricky.
I'd prefer the first option.
Kruger making good
If there is a Ravens poster child for hard work this season the award would go to outside linebacker Paul Kruger. In his third season, Kruger's performance is also the result of good scouting and how the Ravens often draft a player with an edge.
When Kruger first arrived in Baltimore as a second round pick out of Utah, he was undersized and stiff. He spent the first two seasons going back and forth from defensive end to outside linebacker.
The Ravens moved him permanently back to outside linebacker this season, and he has become one of the team's top pass rushers. Kruger has 10 tackles, including five sacks, a part-time pass-rushing specialist. And over the years, the 6-feet-4, 265-pound Kruger has added about 15 to 20 pounds of bulk, which shows his hard work in the weight room.
Cameron to San Diego?
If Turner gets fired, Cameron might be on the Chargers' list of possible replacements.