Gimmicks Won’t Get the Ravens Back to the Playoffs: By Dan Soderberg

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The Baltimore Ravens defeated the New Jets on Sunday to improve their record to 5-6 and pull even with New York, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Miami, and San Diego in the AFCs battle of attrition for the final Wild Card spot. Baltimores 19-3 win over New York featured the insertion of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor under center for several plays. The Tyrod Taylor package caught New York off guard initially but the Jets quickly adjusted to Baltimores gimmick.

The Ravens eventually pulled away from the Jets thanks in large part to a 66-yard touchdown from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones and the unsteady play of rookie New Yorks QB Geno Smith. The use of the Tyrod Taylor in regular season action is something we havent seen much of in his three seasons in Baltimore, and hopefully something we wont see much of in the future. Every time Baltimore inserted Taylor into the offense they put him under center and split QB Joe Flacco out as a receiver. The Ravens then proceeded to either have Taylor hand off to a running back or run the ball himself. Flacco was out wide and typically didnt move off the line of scrimmage after the snap. After Taylors initial gain of 17 yards on his first rushing attempt he proceeded to lose 10 yards on his next three rushes and finished the game with seven yards on four carries. Taylor did throw one incomplete pass but the Jets werent fooled by Taylors presence in the game.

I understand why the Ravens attempted to use Taylor to spark the teams moribund running game, but they should have stopped after Taylors initial scamper caught the Jets on their heels. The offensive line has struggled to open holes and backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have been unable to make would-be tacklers miss. The lack of a consistent running game has made the Ravens one dimensional and led the normally level-headed Flacco to be careless with the ball. Flacco has already set a career-high by tossing 13 interceptions in just 11 games this season.

The Ravens will square off against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving in a matchup that could end one of the teams postseason hopes. A win over Pittsburgh would even Baltimores record at 6-6 and offer a chance to catch the division leading Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens best chance for victory comes with Super Bowl MVP Flacco under center rather than split out wide as a non-factor wide receiver. If the Ravens do intend to use Tyrod Taylor in limited future situations they should pull Flacco from the field and insert a receiver or tight end to provide an extra blocker. Baltimore didnt pay Flacco $120 million in the offseason for him to be a decoy and they wont make a sixth consecutive playoff appearance with Tyrod Taylor getting more offensive touches than WR Torrey Smith.

Follow Dan Soderberg on Twitter @dadstimeout

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