The Baltimore Ravens have been known for their defense over the years. Many seem to believe that it is just because the defense is great…
Baltimore’s offense has been a middle of the pack group for quite some time now. Last season, the Ravens finished 17th in total offense (three down from the 2015 season). In 2014, their last season in the playoffs, they finished 12th.
To compound this issue, Baltimore also fill a few major holes on the offensive side of the ball.
They have lost a some players in free agency which include: right tackle Rick Wagner (Detroit Lions), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (San Francisco 49ers), offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse (Buffalo Bills) and wide receiver Kamar Aiken (Indianapolis Colts). In addition, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. retired and center Jeremy Zuttah was released.
Now, one would assume that the Ravens would try to frantically plug away at the holes that were exacerbated by these departures.
General manager Ozzie Newsome immediately went to the defense and aided an ailing secondary. He signed cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson. He re-signed one of the best nose tackles in the game in Brandon Williams and solidified what was already a strong defense (ranking 7th in the NFL).
Why not fix the offense?
This offense was so painful to watch at times. It was also an offense that saw a revolving door at offensive line due to injuries and a refusal to play off of quarterback Joe Flacco’s strengths. (*cough* play action *cough*)
Maybe it’s due to coaching. Offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg loved passing the ball in 2016. Flacco threw the ball 679 times, with a 64.7 completion percentage. The percentage isn’t the problem, the real issue is the number of attempts. Baltimore ranked number one in passing attempts with an aging Smith Sr., a tight end in Dennis Pitta coming off of a major injury, unproven commodities in wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Chris Moore and lastly, wideout Mike Wallace.
Flacco also went to check downs more than he ever has as a pro. He averaged 6.4 yards per attempt. Part of this is due to Zuttah getting blown into the backfield often. The other part is Flacco’s poor footwork in the pocket, but I’d contend that it is something that is structural. It’s the design of the offense.
During the years of former Ravens offensive coordinators Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell, Baltimore ran the Vertical Offense. It is known for a heavy running game to open up deep shots downfield. The West Coast offense is the exact opposite of that. It uses short passes to open up deeper passes. Hence why the long game wasn’t part of the offense.
It also could be due to the fact that the running game was lacking. Baltimore ranked 28th in the league in rushing yards, with 1463. That is very much an oddity with Baltimore. Running backs Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West showed promise, but they were often under-utilized.
The Ravens had a chance to address their offense through free-agency. Receivers like Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson were brought up by fans. Some though that Smith would be a perfect fit because of his past with Baltimore. He ended up going to the Philadelphia Eagles along with Jeffrey. Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The offensive line could still possibly be addressed. Center Nick Mangold is currently a free agent. So is offensive tackle King Dunlap. Both are veteran blockers that could assist the young Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis on the offensive line.
Baltimore’s deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball could be solved in the 2017 draft. They also could draft Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson, who could possibly solve the issue at right tackle. Wide receiver Corey Davis also seems like a possible pick. He had 1,500 yards receiving in 2016 (ranking seventh in the FBS), along with 19 touchdowns (tied for first).
Whatever Baltimore decides to do, they can no longer neglect the offensive side of the ball. The infatuation with the defense has gone on too long and there are slam dunk picks to be made at number 16 in the draft and beyond. Make your move Baltimore.