|Ravens LB Jameel McClain is disappointed at the team's downturn in defensive production and stopping ability. (US Presswire)|
In three consecutive weeks, the Ravens defense has allowed a total of 622 rushing yards, something unheard of in Baltimore prior to this year. The usually vaunted Ravens defense has been gashed on the ground in its last three outings, with relative ease from their opponents.
Baltimore has historically been stout against the run, which has made this latest turn of events head-scratching.
"I feel that the defense is disappointed in their performance," McClain said. "We are all disappointed in what we have done up to this point. But now, at this point with the bye (week), we have a chance to look back and see how we can correct what we've done, and how we can really get better."
On Monday, coach John Harbaugh said there would be a lot of self-evaluation this week when it comes to both the offensive and defensive fronts.
What's interesting in reference to the defense is how Kansas City, Dallas and Houston figured out that the key to softening Baltimore's defense would be running the ball. In Baltimore's first four games, teams didn't have nearly as much success. In fact, early on it was the secondary catching most of the heat after allowing three quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards.
Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 91 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, but Eagles RB LeSean McCoy was held to three yards per carry the following week. The Patriots were then limited to 77 total rushing yards, and in Week 4, the Browns were held to 42 total rushing yards, with Baltimore keying on RB Trent Richardson early.
A lot has happened since. With Kansas City electing to minimize Matt Cassel's mistakes with a heavy dose of the running game, it might have accidentally set the blueprint for beating what's now become Baltimore's struggling run defense.
The Cowboys lined up in old-school fashion and won most of the one-on-one battles as DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones both ran for over 90 yards (Murray in the first half before sustaining a foot sprain.) The Texans saw little resistance from the Ravens in their zone running scheme, which saw Arian Foster pick up 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Over the last three weeks, the Ravens defense, which has typically been given the benefit of the doubt, has seen its share of warranted criticism.
"There are a few things that stand out," LB Paul Kruger said. "At the same time, people are doing good things against us all over the field. There are a lot of corrections that need to be made. Everyone's fine to (criticize). We're our own worst critics. We could say we're not doing a few things we need to be doing. Whether it's them passing or running, we just have to play better football."
The Ravens' bye couldn't have come at a better time for the organization. Baltimore is still 5-2 and one of just three AFC teams with a winning record. As bad as its been of late, the Ravens remain two games ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC North race. In addition, Baltimore can use this week to fix the problems its been plagued with.
Following the bye, Baltimore will travel to Cleveland to face the Browns in a rematch. The Browns couldn't run on Baltimore in the first meeting, but there's now tape to support how teams can beat the Ravens on the ground.
Against Cleveland in two weeks, McClain said it will be on Baltimore's defense to prove it can still stop the run, and show future opponents that these past three weeks have been an uncharacteristic fluke.
"It's our job to let the team after (the Browns) see it on film and think, 'Oh, I don't think it's going down, they got it back on track,'" McClain said. "That's what we need to put on film. This is the NFL. They don't coach up against schemes. They coach up against weaknesses. That's something we show. But it will be fixed and it's that easy."
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter: @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.