OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens pass game coordinator/secondary coach Chris Hewitt called his players "inconsistent" when asked to evaluate their play over the first seven games of the season.
Baltimore is 5-2 heading into its bye and the coaches and players are confident there is time to fix these issues.
"We’re going to get better over the bye [week]," Hewitt said. "That’s our whole charge going throughout … Even starting from the first game, it’s just to continue to keep on getting better. We’ve had some bumps in the road, and we just continue to keep on getting better that way. We’ll keep on working our technique.
"And the message hasn’t changed; the sky is not falling or anything like that. We’re in a good position, and we’re just going to continue to keep on getting better and keep on working at the skills that we’ve been doing ever since I’ve been here.”
In a 41-17 loss to the Bengals in Week 7, quarterback Joe Burrow shredded Baltimore's secondary for 416 yards with three touchdowns.
It was the most points Baltimore has allowed since Dec. 22, 2013, when the New England Patriots left M&T Bank Stadium with a 41-7 victory.
Cincinnati wide receiver C.J. Uzomah got behind Baltimore's secondary for two of those scores from 55 and 32 yards, The Ravens had no answer for Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, who had 8 catches for 201 yards with a long touchdown.
The Ravens allowed an opponent to rack up more than 500 yards of offense for the second time in three weeks.
Opposing quarterbacks have found holes in Baltimore's secondary, which is hindered by the season-ending knee injury to cornerback Marcus Peters.
Anthony Averett has filled in admirably in Peters' absence despite being targeted the most times in the NFL.
"At this point right now, he’s had some ups and downs, as far as play, but he’s always been a confident person with great skill," Hewitt said about Averett. "It’s been well-documented [how] we feel about him here as a player. He’s starting caliber, and he’s playing at that level. But as a secondary, as a whole, we’ve been inconsistent, so his play has been inconsistent as well. But we believe in him. He has that ability. He’s had some great plays, and he’ll continue to keep on getting better and make some great plays for us.”
Maron Humphrey managed his first turnover of the season with an interception against the Bengals but has missed several tackles throughout the season. Hewitt also offered a critique of Humphrey's performance.
“He’s had really good games, and this game right here … You go back to the week prior to this against the Chargers; he had to take [No.] 81 [Mike Williams]. He had to take him all by himself, and he did that, and did a really good job against him," Hewitt said. "And coming back here, Chase got the best of him. But as far as what we’re talking about moving forward, it’s just [to] continue to keep on working on your technique; don’t stray from what your technique has gotten you to, to this point.
"And that’s just something we’ll continue to keep on stressing, because [when] you watch it from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, he changed what he was doing. He was really doing a really good job [in] the first quarter, and then [in the] fourth quarter, he kind of changed what he was doing, as far as technique-wise, and it hurt him."
The Ravens have allowed 2,073 passing yards over seven games, the worst performance in franchise history. Baltimore is just the third team in NFL history to allow three 400-yard passers in the first seven games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
They'll need to play much better to stay in the playoff hunt.