Harbaugh on running game: “Nothing’s simple, but it can be fixed”

Just when the Ravens’ running game appeared to be taking a step in the right direction, it slipped back to its previous troubling state.

Baltimore was held to 47 yards on 22 carries in the loss to Green Bay, averaging just 2.1 yards per carry. The team ranks 27th in the NFL with 72.7 rushing yards per game, having eclipsed 100 just once through six games. So it remains a hot topic around Owings Mills.

It’s the main reason the Ravens have struggled offensively this season and a big part of why they’re 3-3 heading into Steelers week.

Coach John Harbaugh’s resolve hasn’t been shaken and he believes Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and the offensive line can get things together to rediscover their effectiveness of the past.

“Nothing’s simple, but it can be fixed,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We have the guys to do it and I really feel strongly about our offensive line. I think we’ve got the men for the job. Coaches and players, we’ve got a great group. We’ve got some depth in there, too, and there’s some things we will clean up, some things we can do better. So frustration can be a great motivator. I like that. Let’s be frustrated. Let’s go to work and see if we can get better.”

The question continues to be how to make that happen. How can the Ravens fix the running game? What are they doing behind closed doors? Are there changes being made?

Harbaugh understandably declined to go into specifics, but spoke at length to reassure fans and the media that the Ravens aren’t comfortable with their rushing woes. They’re working to improve things every day.

“We’re definitely making changes. I mean, we’re not going to sit there and just stand pat with what we’re doing,” Harbaugh said. “It may not be visible from the outside looking in, but they’re visible to the people we play against and they’re definitely visible to us. We know what changes we’re making. So whether it’s personnel changes or, more likely, scheme changes. Not major things. Just things that give our guys a better chance to be on the same page.

“That’s what we need to do. We’ve got too many situations where we don’t have a hat on a hat. And when you don’t have a hat on a hat, that’s a problem. That’s just not acceptable and there are reasons for that. And that’s what we’re looking at - the reasons for that and how we make sure that doesn’t happen. Well, it’s easy to go back and say, ‘OK, if we had done this, if we would’ve done that, that wouldn’t have happened,’ and make the correction as you walk back through it or whatever.

“But you have to go forward and anticipate the problem and that’s what we try to do. So how do we organize and structure a system so our guys can be on the same page against who we’re playing against? And that’s what we’ve got to figure out. It’s a little more complicated at this level because of what you see from the other team. They’re always going to give you things that are different and you’ve got to anticipate well. And even when you anticipate well, sometimes you’re not able to execute as well as you can. We’ve just got to do a better job of that.”

Six games into the season, the Ravens are still searching for that spark, trying to find a way to move the ball on the ground, better control the clock, balance their offense and provide the defense with just a little bit of help.

Quarterback Joe Flacco said the inability to make big gains on first and second downs is partly responsible for the offensive issues. And the lack of a running game is why that has been so difficult.

But Harbaugh said no one is pointing fingers at each other. The running backs, the linemen and the coaches are all taking responsibility for what is taking place and are working to get it fixed.

“There are plenty of specific things that we need to do differently or we need to do better and those are things we’ll do,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not stuck on any particular scheme or any particular technique or any particular way of doing something. We want to find the best way to do it and we work hard at that, and we’ll continue to do that.

“We’re going to find our way (to improve) our run game. This is a process. We’re fairly early on. I would’ve sure liked for it to have happened sooner. I thought it would. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep going after it. We’re going to, and that’s not just the run game. That’s everything we do, all three phases.”