Going into each Baltimore Ravens season, it is essential to look at the quality, depth, and potential of the receiving corps they employ. The reason is simple: when Joe Flacco has receivers, the Ravens are successful.
As Flacco has developed as an NFL quarterback since 2008, the deeper the Ravens have gone in the playoffs has correlated with how well Flacco’s relationships with his receivers are.
In 2008, Flacco had the likes of Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, and Todd Heap, yet the Ravens advanced to the AFC Championship on the back of the best defense Flacco has ever played with. 2008 was Flacco’s weakest group of receivers while making it to either the AFC Championship game or the Super Bowl.
Flacco made strides in 2010 with the receiving corps of Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Todd Heap. The Ravens were stumped in the Divisional Round of the playoffs with no real deep threat to take advantage of Flacco’s cannon right arm.
Over the next two years, Flacco was given the tools needed to succeed as he reached his second AFC Championship and won a Super Bowl.
In 2011 Flacco had his deepest group of receivers up to that point, with Anquan Boldin, rookie Torrey Smith, Ray Rice in his prime, Lee Evans, and two young tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Flacco was one dropped touchdown by Lee Evans away from facing the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. This was also the year Flacco began to flourish in the post season, sparking an intense debate on whether or not he is elite. (He is.)
Finally, in 2012, Flacco was given every tool he needed to win it all. He had great chemistry with Boldin and Pitta (especially in the playoffs), an experienced Torrey Smith paired with Jacoby Jones to take the top off of any defense, and an established dual threat running back in Rice. Flacco went on a tear in the post season, no defense could stop him with these weapons, and he was named Super Bowl MVP.
Two out of the next three years, Flacco’s arsenal was depleted, and neither season ended with a post season berth, with 2014 being the exception.
Boldin was traded (2013), Pitta was injured (2013-2015), Torrey Smith was not resigned (2015), Jones’ production fell off (2014), and Rice was released (2014). With these departures came little instant replacement of production, other than Steve Smith Sr. (2014), who was injured in 2015.
This year is different. Flacco has the most weapons at his disposal that he’s ever had. He completed passes to 10 different targets in his first game, and nine targets in his second.
But is there a real problem with too many targets? Kamar Aiken, who caught 75 passes in 2015, has two receptions. Maxx Williams, a second-round pick in 2015, hasn’t received one target through two games. First-round receiver Breshad Perriman has three catches in his first two NFL games. The only Ravens player who has scored a touchdown is off-season addition Mike Wallace.
Is the ball being spread out so much that it’s taking touchdowns, targets, and yards away from other receivers?
It’s tough to tell after only two games of seeing this offense, but it’s possible. Flacco has never possessed this many targets on one team in the NFL. At most he has been given 2-3 productive wide receivers, 1-2 productive tight ends, and one dual threat running back.
This year Flacco has, realistically, five wide receivers who can produce, three tight ends, and 3-4 running backs (including Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon when he returns).
Obviously, with the rash of injuries the Ravens have had in the past two seasons, it’s easy to see why they loaded up on receivers.
Only time will tell if this number of targets will hinder the offense’s overall production. But, the Ravens head to Jacksonville this week boasting a 2-0 record to face a revamped secondary. If the Ravens keep winning, there will not be any problem at all.
Ravens’ Alex Collins Arrested
Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins was arrested early on Friday morning following a car crash about a mile from the Ravens’ team facility, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun.
Per the report: Officers responded to a report of a car that had crashed into a tree on the 10000 block of Dolfield Road at about 6:48 a.m. Friday morning, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Peach said.
Collins, 24, was arrested, however charges were not made public at the time of this writing.
Ravens vice president of public relations Chad Steele told The Baltimore Sun that the team has spoken with law enforcement and is aware of the situation involving Collins.
Collins is coming off a down year with Baltimore after a breakout campaign in 2017. Collins managed only 411 yards rushing in 2018 and was placed on injured reserve back in December, ending his season early.
Ray Rice Says He Is Done With Football
Former NFL running back Ray Rice, who had been working to try and get a second chance in the NFL over the past couple of years, is no longer pursuing a comeback.
“I’ll be the first one to say it; I don’t have to retire to tell you I’m done with football” Rice said, during an interview on CBS This Morning.
“The pressure I was under of being a star, that was the person I hated the most.”
Rice was suspended indefinitely back in 2014 when a video surfaces showing Rice punching his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Rice while the two were alone in an elevator.
Rice was never picked up by another team following the conclusion of his suspension, and his release from the Baltimore Ravens.
Rice said that he sees “similarities” between his situation and the one of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who was recently cut loose by the team when a video surfaced showing him pushing and kicking a woman in a hallway.
“Somewhere down the line everybody who’s sayin’, ‘Does he deserve a second chance for football?’ And this that and the other— I actually got my second chance” Rice said of Hunt, who cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
“During my darkest moments, and I used to ask myself, ‘How could she even be—want to support me?’ … That’s understandable. But I think what’s misunderstood about us is that the friends we were before the incident. That’s why, like I said, when I look at Kareem Hunt, I wanna know what his life was like. I want to know what happened in life. I know Kareem has apologized, and has expressed remorse for survivors of domestic violence.”
Ravens Trying To Entice Fans With Lower Concession Prices
The Baltimore Ravens are attempting to win back fans and their latest plan is making a big step toward doing just that as the team announced on Tuesday that they will reduce concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium in 2018.
The Ravens have been on a mission to bring back fans who were angered by some players’ national anthem protests coupled with their 3-year playoff drought.
A series of moves have demonstrated their efforts. The team invited fans to ask questions at a media pre-draft news conference held a question-and-answer session with fans at the team facility with owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and also have had team president Dick Cass meet and talk to fan clubs.
While the team has sold out every game during their 20-year history at M&T Bank Stadium, empty seats grew in numbers as the 2017 season wore on, and the no-shows are very obvious.
The organization is taking this initiative very seriously.
“It’s something I would really like to take a hard look at, and at least, come up with select items that we can do,” Bisciotti said back in February of this year.
“If it means us … I can’t make Aramark do that with me, but I can make them go along as long as it’s my share of the profits that I’m waiving. Yeah, I’d like to take a look at that. I think we could probably do that.”
There is an official news conference scheduled for Thursday where the Ravens will officially announce price reductions on concessions.
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