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Mike Preston’s Ravens mailbag on the offensive game plan, CB Marcus Peters’ struggles and more


Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer fans’ questions throughout the Ravens season. After Baltimore fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 28-27, on Sunday, plenty of questions remain before a Week 13 matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Here’s Preston’s take:

(Editor’s note: Questions have been edited for length and clarity.)

Mike, what is our offensive game plan? Why don’t we go no-huddle more often? Why don’t we have a scripted first series or two to get a rhythm going? And why do we continue to be so slow, methodical and lackadaisical getting to the line and calling a play? P.S. Isn’t there someone on the coaching staff who could teach Lamar to pass accurately?

— Deb Marindin

Like every other team in the NFL, the game plan changes from week to week depending on which players are injured and other teams’ strengths and weaknesses. I assume the Ravens’ plays in the first, second and even third series are scripted depending on outcome and the situations. As far as the plays being called in late, that has been a problem all season. Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens would correct the situation then, but that really cost them in the first half against Jacksonville. Maybe offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to get the plays in sooner to quarterback Lamar Jackson, or Jackson has to speed the Ravens up in getting to the line of scrimmage.

There are other things involved, though, like substituting players and the various motions the Ravens use presnap on certain plays. At halftime Sunday, Harbaugh said on TV that they had corrected the situation, and they did. But this problem has been going on for years, dating back to when Joe Flacco was the starting quarterback.

Maybe now, because everyone is paying attention, the Ravens will focus even more on the situation. Hopefully, this will free up Jackson to get to the line sooner and look over defenses and make the proper reads and checks. After years of both Roman calling plays and Jackson under center, there are no excuses for constant delay-of-game penalties. The Ravens should have clockwork precision most of the time.

What’s the deal with Marcus Peters? He seems to get turnovers but there are so many plays that he seems to “take off.”

— Neil in Parkville

I understand Peters is coming off major knee surgery and he is probably a step slower now in his eighth year in the NFL, but he is playing soft on the corner. The Jaguars threw several hitch passes and he wasn’t involved in the gang tackling, and I once saw him going back to huddle instead of trying to take down the receiver. I suspect part of the problem is that he doesn’t want to risk getting hurt again, but he also seems to give up easily when things aren’t going his way. He has had the same problem for other teams he’s played on.

I like the energy and passion he can bring to a defense, but he needs to be more physical at the point of attack. The problem is the Ravens don’t have anyone on the roster better than Peters. Some of the rookies were given opportunities early in the season but failed to stand out. At this point, the Ravens need to get Peters more help or rotate toward his side because opposing teams are going right after him.

Why does Lamar continue to look at his wristband after coming out of the huddle? Seems like he doesn’t understand the play he just called. It’s like he needs a cheat sheet to tell him what to do during the play.

— Steve Cieri

After observing Jackson do this for several years, I started watching other quarterbacks, and most of them have plays on their wristband as well. With Jackson, his situation might be slightly more exaggerated because the Ravens take so long to snap the ball. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wears a similar wristband, as does the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady. Maybe the passing games have become so sophisticated that quarterbacks need them, but there are only so many routes in the passing tree. With Jackson, it’s like he is punching in a play on the computer and waiting for the proper answer. Maybe it’s because of all the plays Roman said he had in his vault from a year ago.

Regardless, the Ravens need to work on whittling things down and getting the plays in sooner. It’s either on Jackson or Roman. There is no one else to blame.

Mike, after watching another Ravens end-of-game collapse, I see Justin Houston noted “we got lackadaisical out there.” For some time, I have thought about the lack of leadership on the team — especially on defense — but even on the offensive side of the ball. Given the Ravens’ history this year, how is it possible to get lackadaisical? There seems to be no fire. Could this happen with Ray Lewis on the field? Would he allow the defense to play without fire? We seem to lack intensity and we simply do not have a stopper, someone on defense who can get the needed sack when needed or turnover or stop a run when we have really needed it in all four losses. Am I missing something?

— Mike Stefanek

I would say there is a lack of leadership. When the Ravens are struggling on defense, there is no one that brings the team together and talks about the problems on the field. At least I haven’t seen that, with the exception of lineman Calais Campbell. Peters could be that guy, but his demeanor can sometimes rub teammates the wrong way. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey can be that type of player, too, but hasn’t accepted it full-time. In time, middle linebacker Roquan Smith could become a leader, but it’s hard to take that on in the middle of a season.

Offensively, the Ravens are lacking. Quarterbacks are usually leaders, but Jackson isn’t there yet, and he might never be. I like what guards Ben Powers and Kevin Zeitler bring to the offense with their physical style of play, but linemen are so reserved. Sorry to say, except for Campbell, I don’t know any Ravens who have that combination of being successful on the field and a very engaging personality. The Ravens still have a lot of young players on the roster, but right now there is no Rod Woodson, Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe or Anquan Boldin on this team.

Is there any scenario offensive coordinator Greg Roman is let go during the season? And if not, what could the reason be? They let Cam Cameron go late in the 2012 season (with a 9-4 record, I believe, at the time), and the offense is in a much more dire situation now than it was in 2012. The offensive issues have been going on for two years now, so there is no way this can be fixed in the coming weeks. Why not shake things up while still in the hunt? At this rate, I only see them winning one more game with Roman at the helm.

— Anonymous

Hi, Anonymous, next time put your name on your question, please. A lot of fingers are being pointed at Roman after last week’s loss to Jacksonville, but the defeat was a team effort. The Ravens had more than 400 yards of total offense and a nearly five-minute advantage in time of possession. I will say his play-calling inside the red zone was poor, especially with the Jaguars basically rushing four players and staying pretty vanilla in coverages with a lot of zone. I don’t know why the Ravens would send out only three receivers sometimes, and I certainly would have given running back Gus Edwards more carries inside the 20-yard line.

But Roman didn’t overthrow Demarcus Robinson and Josh Oliver on possible touchdown passes. Jackson did. Roman didn’t drop four to six passes for the second straight week. The Ravens receivers did. Roman wasn’t playing in the secondary on that 10-play, 75-yard game-winning drive that Jacksonville pulled off in the last two minutes of the game.

You want more?

There is an old saying that you win as a team, and you lose as a team. The Ravens certainly lost as a team to the Jaguars.

One more thing: Where was the pass rush Sunday in the final two minutes?

Why is John Harbaugh still the coach? Seriously.

— Carl Wright

155-100 overall record, has played in two AFC championship games, two losing records in the previous 14 seasons, Super Bowl champion in 2012, been to the AFC playoffs 10 times in Baltimore.

That’s why.




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