Coach John Harbaugh covered a number of topics aside from his team’s running problems during his Monday quarterback session.
For beginners, how about those persisting slow starts? The Ravens have scored just 22 total points in the first halves of their last five games and were shut out in the first half by both the Browns and Packers.
That’s especially frustrating for Harbaugh because the team has practiced so well.
“That’s been an issue most of the year, obviously. We need to start faster,” Harbaugh said. “We’d love to start with the lead and try to build on that, and we haven’t done that as often as we need to. But I also believe that when you practice well, you play well. And ultimately, that is going to show up. So we’ve just got to continue to practice well and do everything we can to take it to the game, find a way to do that.”
Looking back on the 19-17 loss to Green Bay, Harbaugh dissected a few specifics, including a couple he addressed Sunday.
Trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-goal from the Packers 1, but failed to get in the end zone and turned it over on downs. Harbaugh defended that decision on Sunday and did so again Monday.
“When you look at the numbers statistically - I don’t have that in front of me right now, but I feel pretty good about our chances of scoring from the 1-yard line, and I think when you look at the percentages overall, leaving a team on the one-inch line is never a bad thing either,” Harbaugh said. “I’d rather have seven than three there, I’d rather have three than none. But when you back a team up to the zero, right on the goal line, you’ve got a pretty good chance of forcing a punt and getting a three at least right back and maybe a seven.
“We saw that play out a little bit in the Super Bowl, too, when we faked a field goal and the field position wasn’t even as good. So that’s the thinking there.”
In the loss, the Ravens committed six penalties for 40 yards, which isn’t too terrible on the surface. The problem is all six flags were on the offense, including four false starts, two of which came on back-to-back plays in the third quarter.
“We get backed up and everybody’s really tensed up and trying to make something happen,” Harbaugh said. “Especially on the offensive line, we get a little anxious. Last game, we didn’t have any I don’t think in Miami and we were on the road down there. So it’s not something that should happen, but two back-to-back, that’s what really hurt us most and we backed ourselves up to a (second-and-20).”
Green Bay suffered two significant injuries to receivers in the contest, losing Randall Cobb for six to eight weeks with a fractured fibula sustained on a hit by safety Matt Elam. During the game, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers confronted Elam about the hit and afterward, he was critical of it.
Harbaugh responded Monday, defending the Ravens’ 2013 first-round pick.
“I think Matt made a tackle,” Harbaugh said. “He was scrambling to try to catch up. He ran the route the best he could and made the tackle. To say that it could’ve been more artistically palatable is pretty hard for me to understand. That’s a fast route and he ran a very good route there. Aaron made a good quick throw there and Matt’s doing the best he can to try and stop that play. So I have no idea what he’s talking about.”
One week after a couple of shanked kicks, Sam Koch had a different kind of problem in the loss to Green Bay - punt protection. One punt was blocked and another nearly was.
“It’s definitely a concern,” Harbaugh said. “Our punt protection has never been a problem and that would’ve been two punts blocked. It should never happen and that was a miscall. We just called the protection incorrectly. They moved the No. 2 man out there in the slot and we changed the protection and we probably shouldn’t have done it that way, and that’s what happened.”
Jacoby Jones returned to the field Sunday after missing four games with a sprained MCL suffered in the opener. He was noticeable on both offense and special teams, contributing a touchdown catch and a 35-yard kickoff return.
Harbaugh was happy to have Jones back.
“It was great,” he said. “Jacoby gave us a speed element out there. He’ll probably play more and more offensively as we go forward.”
Both had physical ailments, but were healthy enough to play. McKinnie was a healthy scratch despite having his knee drained Wednesday.
“That’s not the first time. That’s been kind of a regular thing,” Harbaugh said. “Bryant’s tough. He’s a guy that will play through those kind of things.”
As for Stokley, Harbaugh called that a game-time decision. The veteran has been dealing with a groin injury.
“I don’t know exactly where he was at, probably not 100 percent just like the week before,” Harbaugh said. “We thought that was our best combination of guys for this game given all the circumstances.”
Harbaugh was also asked about what role rookie center Ryan Jensen might play going forward. Jensen practiced for the first time this season last week after missing the first five weeks with a foot injury.
Harbaugh said Jensen will be a “developmental backup.”