The Ravens have taken this NFL is a pass-happy league thing too far.

When a team has a Pro Bowl running back and arguably the best fullback in the NFL, and they rush only nine times for 24 yards against one of the league's worst run defenses, it's not time to throw more.

It's a time for reflection. And for halfback Ray Rice, fullback Vonta Leach and the offensive line, it is time to make it personal.

So, if they didn't do it Sunday after losing to the Buffalo Bills, both Rice and Leach should get together and have some strong words for the offensive line. In a private meeting, they should point fingers and afterward get together with new running game coordinator Juan Castillo, and ask him what in the name of Jonathan Ogden is going on here.

Why can't they run?

It's beyond the issue of being a young team going through another growing pain. It is embarrassing and shameful, especially for a franchise which has prided itself in playing smashmouth football.

The only team getting smashed has been the Ravens.

"It's so hard to say what is wrong, or to single out one person or one missed block," said Ogden, a Hall of Fame left tackle and former Raven. "It could be the tight end as well. But at some point, they've got to come together and get it done. They've got to have an attitude.


Advertisement

"If I was on that sideline, I would have been yelling at myself, the coaches, my teammates letting them know that this was unacceptable. Somebody has to play that role. They have to have a meeting, go man to man, eye to eye, go through the film and work it out with the coaches. Right now, they might have a player or two playing well, but nobody is playing great."

And that's why the offensive line has to make it personal. You can only scheme and draw up so many plays, but it's an insult to an offensive lineman's manhood when his team can't run the ball.

This group should be offended. Instead of waiting to play the Miami Dolphins Sunday, these guys should be so angry that they want to play the Dolphins right now in a KMart parking lot.

But until then, the Ravens have to work on fundamentals. This group works way too high which makes it hard for them to sustain blocks. The Ravens need to go back to being physical and forget the pretty boy stuff.

They have to find out who isn't winning at the point of attack and making the cut off block or sealing the backside. Like Ogden said, none of them are playing well even though it is basically the same group that started in the Super Bowl in February.

"You got to be honest," Ogden said. "I've been in that situation before where a coordinator doesn't see success in the running game and wants to pass. They need to discuss with him what works and what doesn't. These guys have to prove to the coordinator they can get it done, they are going to have to produce some good runs and big yards."

Rice and backup running back Bernard Pierce have been criticized for being timid, but any runner would be that way with the Ravens because there are no holes to burst through.

"We've got to run the ball better," Rice said. "You saw the difference in the first half with [Buffalo]. They're running the ball for four, five yards at time and putting themselves in manageable third downs, and we're not doing that.

"That's tough on everybody. That's tough on our passing game, on our quarterback. We've got to get to the point where we can execute in the running game."

The Ravens need to be more creative in the running game. It's basically stretch play left or stretch play right, similar to what the Indianapolis Colts ran when Peyton Manning was the quarterback.

Well, how about a trap? How about a counter or misdirection? What happened to power plays and draws? If you can't beat them physically, trick them. Try something.

But don't panic. That's what the Ravens did Sunday. After the game coach John Harbaugh, Flacco and Rice said the team went away from the running game in the second half because they got behind and needed to change the tempo and play catch up.

Doesn't that sound like Cam Cameron?

Really.

Nearly a month ago, the Ravens used the same excuse and they threw 62 times against Denver. At least in that game, the Broncos were on the verge of blowing the Ravens out after the third quarter.

But that wasn't the case Sunday. These were the Bills. The Ravens were within 20-14 with 7 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third quarter. They got away from the run because passing is the norm in the NFL. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell wants to throw. Flacco sometimes actually thinks he is Manning.

And he is, but more like Eli than Peyton. There was no excuse for the Ravens to throw the ball 30 straight times in the second half, or run it just twice. In a game when Flacco was having a bad day, Caldwell gave him the license to make it worse.

You could do that in Indianapolis, but not in Baltimore. Flacco can't carry an offense by himself, not with this group of receivers or offensive line. You have to always stay somewhat balanced to keep other teams guessing because the Ravens aren't dominant in any offensive area yet.

Maybe this was a lesson learned.

"I've said it all along, we're going to get everybody's best every week," Rice said. "So we've got to go out there and come ready to play, every week. We can't start slow and we've got to execute. Everybody's got the Ravens marked on their calendar."

And it starts with a strong running game.