Struggling special teams uncharacteristic of Ravens
— Among a handful of reasons that the Ravens have lost consecutive games has been a struggling special teams unit. It’s a problem Baltimore isn’t accustomed to having. Momentum swung in Sunday’s 16-10 loss when the Ravens allowed an 85-yard punt return touchdown to Washington’s return man Jamison Crowder.
The run back ties the longest given up by any NFL team this season and was one yard shy of tying a Ravens’ franchise record.
It was also the first touchdown Baltimore’s punt team has surrendered in five years.
“The last time we gave up a score was 2011. Since that time, we’ve gone 70-odd games with zero points [allowed]. In the same time span, we’ve scored 62 points,” special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Thursday. “That’s a high standard. We’re not used to this happening to us, and our players know that. It’s my job to get us back up to that standard.”
Rosburg is heralded as one of the best special teams coaches in the league, but his unit is unquestionably struggling. The Ravens allowed a long punt return that helped set up an Oakland Raiders touchdown the previous week.
Baltimore has surrendered the most punt return yards in the NFL (264). Opponents are averaging 18.5 yards per return, the fourth-worst average in the league.
“Evaluating the tape – both on the kickoff coverage and our punt coverage – it’s a matter of fundamental football. We broke down in a couple of different areas in each phase, and it hurt us,” Rosburg said. “We’ve had a repeat of errors that have hurt us. We need to fix it.”
The Ravens addressed a glaring need at kick returner by signing Devin Hester after training camp. Hester, 33, holds the NFL career records for return touchdowns (20) and punt return touchdowns (14), but has been off to a slow start in Baltimore.
He muffed a punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars and lost a fumble against the Raiders the following week. Hester twice allowed punts to roll inside of the Ravens 10-yard in the fourth quarter against Washington.
Hester’s best return of the game on Sunday was negated by an illegal block in the back.
Rosburg has a list of concerns regarding his units, but the best return man in NFL history isn’t among them.
“I don’t see it, I don’t see a slump,” he said. “I don’t see any confidence lacking. He’s a great returner and he’s going to get it going.”
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Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg called his unit’s struggles “a matter of fundamental football” on Thursday.