PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Joe Flacco went into last season with two new wide receivers and two new tight ends as prime targets.
It was a young group that lacked familiarity with one another.
That won’t be the case this season, as Flacco and the receiving core not only have a year of working together, but now actually have the benefit of an offseason program.
“This time will be so huge for us, and I think Torrey [Smith] is the obvious example and then you go right down the row,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “These young guys, they grow by leaps and bounds and that’s why the offseason is so huge for them.”
Flacco, Smith, backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, wide receivers Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams and David Reed and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are all participating in the voluntary offseason workouts.
John Harbaugh Pre-Draft Interview
Getting together at the team’s facility during the offseason is a chance to continue building chemistry and timing, which is critical for the passing game.
“So many players can get better individually, so many groups can play better together; the obvious one is the quarterbacks and the receivers, throwing together,” Harbaugh said. “That’s huge. The timing and the things that they develop, just an understanding of how they’re going to run routes. Just throwing and catching and getting a feel one another.”
The Ravens ranked 19th in the NFL in passing yards last season (213.9 yards per game), but the receiving core had little game experience.
Smith was a rookie and Pitta and Dixon were in their first season of significant playing time. Also, veteran Lee Evans missed much of the season because of an ankle injury and Smith quickly had to step into the No. 2 receiving role behind Anquan Boldin.
Going into this season, Boldin and Smith are expected to be the top two receivers, and Smith recently said that he’s expecting bigger numbers than the 841 receiving yards and seven touchdowns he put up last year.
“I think I should have done it last year,” Smith said during Ravens Chat Live. “It was my fault it didn’t happen. … I’m looking forward to doing it this year.”
Behind Smith, the No. 3 receiver spot is up in the air.
Doss, Reed and Williams are all vying for more time, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome has said on numerous occasions that they are looking to bring in additional help at the position. Baltimore could target the wide receiver spot in the draft, adding another young player to the mix.
Another new element to the passing game is bringing another running back into action, as second-year players Anthony Allen and Damien Berry are both looking to replace the retired Ricky Williams. Allen and Berry are both participating in the offseason workouts.
With all those young players taking part in the program, Harbaugh has high hopes for what the passing game could look like when the season rolls around.
“Those guys are all new to this thing and for them to be with Joe and Tyrod and to get a great feel for one another in the offseason is going to be really important for us,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be obvious the strides they make.”