(Carlos M. Saavedra/SI)
(Carlos M. Saavedra/SI)

The Post-Pitta Problem (It’s a Big One)

The way the Ravens deployed Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta down the stretch turned Baltimore into a Super Bowl winner. Now the champs must find two guys with the strength and the guts to go over the middle and unhinge a defense

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·

To fully understand how the Ravens will be affected by losing tight end Dennis Pitta to a season-ending hip injury, you have to go back to the end of last season.

After a 31-28 overtime loss to the Redskins in Week 14, Ravens coach John Harbaugh made the tough decision to fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replace him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. There were a lot of reasons why the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl, including the fourth-and-29 screen pass to Ray Rice against the Chargers; Terrell Suggs returning from Achilles surgery; the offensive line becoming an immovable object once Bryant McKinnie was inserted at left tackle and Kelechi Osemele moved to left guard. But Harbaugh’s gamble with a new playcaller was vital.

The Ravens were 9-4 and headed toward a No. 1 seed through 14 weeks, but they were too inconsistent on offense. The passing game lacked rhythm and cohesion, but it wasn’t because of a lack of talent. Anquan Boldin was one of the strongest and most clutch receivers in the game. On the outside, Baltimore had two improving speedsters in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. In the backfield, Rice and his backup, Bernard Pierce, were big-play threats on the ground and through the air. And quarterback Joe Flacco had arguably the best deep arm in the game—with an athletic tight end-duo in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta serving as a security blanket underneath.

So what was Cameron’s problem? His offense didn’t use all the threats in unison, or to their full potential. The Ravens had the pieces to attack all three levels to the defense—Rice, Pierce and fullback Vonta Leach in the short field; Boldin and Pitta in the middle; and Smith and Jones deep—but synergy never materialized because Cameron failed to use Boldin and Pitta in the best way possible.

Here are a few illustrations from my notebook showing as much. (I must apologize: I’m no Picasso, but the takeaway will make Caldwell’s playbook seem like a work of art.)

The first picture shows routes run by Boldin (blue lines) and Pitta (black lines) in two games before Cameron got fired: Week 11 at the Steelers and Week 12 at the Chargers for Boldin; Week 7 at Houston and Week 12 for Pitta (he played just one snap because of a concussion against the Steelers, so I chose a different game to balance the sample size).

bedard-pitta-photo1

Notice how the vast majority of routes run by Boldin and Pitta were from the in-line tight end position to the sidelines, with just eight passes and three short receptions (for zero touchdowns) thrown to the middle of the field. Cameron, who is a disciple of the late Cardinals and Chargers coach Don Coryell, used them mostly on seam routes and toward the edges of the field, often of the short variety.

Now, let’s look at the routes Boldin and Pitta ran in the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots, and in the Super Bowl against the 49ers once Caldwell was firmly entrenched as the coordinator.

bedard-pitta-photo2

It’s almost the exact opposite approach. Most of their routes were run between the slot positions on either side of the ball. There were 12 passes thrown in the middle of the field, with nine completions (four touchdowns). Caldwell didn’t overhaul the offense—it’s impossible to change a system in the middle of the season, let alone the final few weeks—but this was a major tweak to the routes being run by Boldin and Pitta.

bedard-pitta-three-and-four

Look at all the in-breaking routes (especially deeper down the middle of the field) the Ravens used under Caldwell compared to Cameron. Even if the passes weren’t completed, these routes were complementary to the other offensive weapons. Threatening the mid- to deep-level of the field between the hashes with Boldin and Pitta put pressure on a defense. It made safeties stay closer to home, which opened up the outside for Smith and Jones, and/or it caused the linebackers to drop a little deeper, which helped give Rice, Pierce and Leach a little more room to make a play once they caught the ball. Under Caldwell, the Ravens used all of their weapons in unison, and it was a beautiful thing to watch.

Pitta going up the middle against the Colts in a 24-9 wild-card win. (David Bergman/SI)
Pitta against the Colts in the Ravens’ 24-9 wild-card win. (David Bergman/SI)

WHAT NOW?

This offseason started with Boldin being traded to the 49ers because of his contract. I had studied Ravens film before sitting down with Smith for a recent story about his emergence in Baltimore’s passing game, and I kept coming back to the same thought: For the sake of Smith and Jones, the Ravens better find a competent replacement for Boldin.

One of the Ravens’ favorite ways to spring a big play last season was to put a safety in a bind by crossing Boldin and/or Pitta underneath him, while sending send Smith or Jones over the top. It’s a simple concept that all teams use, but the Ravens had all the pieces to make it work. If the safety chooses to cover the underneath route, the deep receiver should be one-on-one and looking for the end zone. If the safety stays deep to protect against the big play, Flacco should have an easy throw to the underneath crossing route.

It’s how Smith burned cornerback Champ Bailey early in the Ravens’ divisional playoff game against the Broncos, and it’s how Jones scored just before halftime in the Super Bowl. Each time, the safety cheated toward Boldin or Pitta.

Once Boldin left, the Ravens clearly thought Pitta could do a comparable job. He was poised to break out in his fourth season, and he certainly would have drawn coverage in the middle of the field. The Ravens would have continued with the same philosophy … that is, until Pitta dislocated and fractured his right hip on July 27 while trying to catch a pass from Flacco.

Doubling Down on the Ground

It makes perfect sense for the Ravens to use running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce at the same time in the post-Pitta/Boldin era. So why haven't they done it?


Peter King asked the champs about their backfield plans.

It was one thing to replace Boldin, but replacing both of the Ravens’ middle-depth threats is entirely different. Entering his fourth season, Dickson has made steady enough progress to take on a larger role, but he alone isn’t the answer.

The Ravens need two pass catchers who are capable of living in the middle of the field—the unforgiving ground that’s not for thinly built speedsters or for the faint of heart. It requires a rare breed who has the guts, the strength and the right feel for the game to excel in an area where defenders are looking to lay bodies out on the ground, or to jump short routes and turn them into a pick-six. That’s what made Boldin and Pitta so special last season, and what elevated the Ravens’ offense to a championship level.

Dickson has many strengths, especially toughness, though he doesn’t have the same natural feel for route running and catching balls as Pitta. But let’s assume that Dickson makes the leap and proves himself equal to Pitta. Who is going to be the Ravens’ other threat over the middle?

Visanthe Shiancoe has shown that ability at times in his career, but can he still do it at 33? The Patriots didn’t think so last season, and at the time they were trying to find a stopgap to fill in for tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, their standout middle-of-the-field players. Do any of the Ravens’ young receivers possess the strength and intestinal fortitude to repeatedly catch passes down the middle of the field?

If not, the Ravens will have a hard time replicating one of the key factors that made them champs last season: they won’t have a passing attack that forces a defense to worry about the entire field.

It was one thing to part ways with Boldin. Losing Pitta just might put the Ravens back where they were under Cameron—a donut with good stuff on the outside, but nothing in the middle. Filling that hole was the secret ingredient that gave Baltimore its second world championship last season.

[si_cvp_video id=”video_464C6019-178A-F7EA-9021-5427AF5C207F”]

More from The MMQB
46 comments
gary41
gary41

Last year Joe Flacco was rated only the 12th QB in the league.  With abundant offensive talent, what happened pre and post Cameron-Caldwell has now been examined in detail by every OC student in the business, so important are the lessons.  I recall pulling the tapes, initially finding what seemed like the essential key.  Now, the more I look, the more I find.  This subject is worth a book. 

SnarlyYow
SnarlyYow

Bedard, you didn't mention any other receivers. I guess that's all merely potential and what-ifs? Doss has made some great grabs in the preseason and in training camp, he has guts and hands, two things we need in the middle. Sadly, when he's had opportunities during the regular season, he's had as many drops as catches and those great hands seem to shirk away from contact with the pigskin. With more reps, is he the answer? One could see a combination of Dickson/Shianco/Doss may be threatening enough to garner attention but that combo is hardly the sure thing the Q/Pitta tandem seemed to be. One thing the Ravens excel at is getting the ball to a variety of targets; hopefully whoever gets plugged in can get us 45 quality grabs per year.

YemiThaBassMan
YemiThaBassMan

I read this article and kept thinking about how Terrell Owens would be an asset to the Ravens. He's not afraid to go over the middle and make tough catches. He could also be signed for cheap, and if they tie bonuses to his ability to shut up, it could be a win. 

jonesnaltitude
jonesnaltitude

My two cents as a Ravens fan is that the main reason we made the Superbowl run was the change in the O-line. Joe had time to work. He was rarely under duress and was only sacked a few times. The fact that we shut down Denver and San Francisco's rushers was amazing. I think Caldwell got McKinney out of Harbaugh's doghouse and back at LT where he belonged. Oher was/is worlds better at RT. Osemele could hang at RT but he looks like Pro Bowl material at LG. Those moves with Yanda at RG and you have the O-line to make the run that the Ravens did. 

Looking forward, Pitta's loss is huge but it gives the young guys a chance to get on the field. Letting Anquan go was painful but the right move. I, and all Ravens fans, loved his game and fire but we could not afford him at 6 mil. If we paid Q, no Doom no Vonta no Shiancoe. This is the second time Joe Flacco has lost his top two targets. I'm excited to see what Caldwell does with a full season. I might be drinking the purple cool-aid but I think you are going to have to beat the Ravens to win the AFC.

Scooterific
Scooterific

The thing that bothers me about this article (and other articles like this) is that it states the problem but doesn't look very hard at possible solutions. The basic problem is stated very well, definitely. But really all that's being done with stating the problem is using hindsight, which isn't all that hard.

Yeah, Ed Dickson is mentioned but nothing beyond that.  There's almost no mention of the other WRs and if they might be able to start and contribute leading me to think that Bedard is not paying attention to the actual team as opposed to what is on paper. Might the Ravens not feel that they needed to keep Boldin at all costs because of their young WR's as opposed to letting him go for a 6th round pick? Bedard can't answer this because he's just looking at depth charts. It reminds me of the Football Outsiders last year not having a clue as to how the Ravens transformed themselves late last season. 

There's also no mention of a different kind of solution, like lining up Pierce and Rice together with Rice being a semi-flanker, able to get further down the field then he would out of the backfield.  


Stevo1
Stevo1

Which is why I can't understand the decision to trade Bolden.  The Ravens win the SB and all they can think of is to ask Bolden to re-do his contract.  What is that about? 

Stick
Stick

Nice analysis, but saying Flacco had one of the best deep ball arms is a bit alarming.  Watch any of the highlights, or any part of the games, Joe severely under throws almost every time.  Guys are open by 5 to 7 yards and yet they don't score as they have to wait on the ball.  Now I will say he throws an awesome ball over the middle.  The toss to Boldin in the SB was outstanding and a great example of his midrange prowess.  Nice touch and placement, but the deep stuff?  He needs to let it fly a bit sooner.

GeoB
GeoB

Just wanted to say this is a great writeup, the kind of analysis not typically seen outside of Football Outsiders.  Please keep it up!

JonKitna3
JonKitna3 like.author.displayName 1 Like

How were the patriots a one dimensional team? They were the 7th best rushing team (deceptively good) and their H1 to H2 splits suggest the running game got stronger in the second half and comprised a greater portion of their offense. Additionally they played a significant portion of last season without both Aaron Hernandez and Gronk. In many ways due to injury history they've already grown accustomed to losing those players. Do you have any substantive information that suggests they were a one dimensional team or do you have a habit of making blanket statements based on your feeling?

0minuteAbs
0minuteAbs

@JonKitna3 I didn't say the Pats WERE one dimensional I said the Patriots ARE one dimensional.  Welker, Lloyd, Gronkowski, Hernandez, Woodhead...Top 5 receivers for NE in 2012.  Gone.  You have to go 6 spots deep before you see a current Patriot.  Edelman, with 21 Rec and 3 TDs.  On the ground, NE lost Woodhead, second most productive back behind Ridley in 2012.  Ridley who was on the field for 45% of offensive snaps last season accounted for 71% of Rushing TDs when you remove Woodhead's and Brady's numbers.  Injuries, arrests, trades have thinned out the Patroits, erasing 87% of the passing offense from 2012 and leaving them with their 2011 3rd round draft pick in Stevan Ridley as the most productive offensive component.  I doubt Ridley will be as productive this season given the lack of receiving targets for Brady.      

JonKitna3
JonKitna3

Have you seen the Patriots play? There's no way you could possibly say they are one dimensional without that. Silly comment. Trades have thinned their offense? who did they trade? Silly comment about a team I would guess you just don't like? This article is about the Ravens. Keep your patriots posts to the patriots articles. Otherwise your just speculating about an offense you have yet to see play. How about this - "I expect the patriots offense will take a step back given the turnover of their roster" - seems more accurate.

0minuteAbs
0minuteAbs

@JonKitna3 How about this, I was commenting on a Ravens article and using the Patriots as a point of comparison.  While both the Ravens and the Patriots have seen personnel changes in the off season, either due to injuries or the inability to re-sign key players, the Ravens still have depth and continuity in both their Passing and Rushing games and will continue to present the same challenges opposing defenses faced in 2012.  THEIR SUPERBOWL WINNING SEASON. 

Don't troll this message board to find one slightly unfavorable comment about the Patriots and then turn this into a back and forth about a team I would guess you like very much.

0minuteAbs
0minuteAbs

IMO the Ravens have a solid backfield with Leach + the new Harvard FB, Rice and Pierce, we can line them up in the slot sometimes and get some short over the middle catches.  Jones will play a bigger role than he did for most of last season and while Pitta is a big loss we're not a 1 dimensional team like New England.  I think people assume that we'll be a west coast offense this season just because we started throwing deep in the playoffs and Flacco is now getting a big paycheck.  I don't think we'll stray too far from our run first style of play this season.  

Love the X's and O's talk.   

JohnCuster
JohnCuster

@0minuteAbs  To say that the Patriots are or were one dimensional shows that you know nothing about the Pats offence. Their #1 overall off. (points and yards) last year was as balanced as one could expect. With their 7th ranked running game and 4th ranked passing game is about as balanced as you can get. I expect this year to be close to the same, time will tell.

marcshank
marcshank

Aside from the fact that Pitta was Flacco's best friend on the team, losing him will make less of an impact that you think. The Ravens have too many threats in too many places. Either Dickson or Shiancoe are going to run the same routes with the same results. You're still going to see a team that would rather run and will pass when necessary. With Jacoby Jones, the deep threats only increase. If I were the other team, I'd worry about Rice and Pierce a lot more than anything. Watch the Ravens play grind out football against Denver. Guaranteed.

u2canbfmj
u2canbfmj

Using Ray Rice in the slot will pose nightmares 

SnarlyYow
SnarlyYow

@u2canbfmj The Ravens line him up out there from time to time but I don't think you want 5' 8" Rice lined up with CBs that average over 6'. Yeah, Rice has hands and is plenty dangerous in traffic, and his catching ability out of the backfield can be deadly (4th and 27 anyone?). But looking to Rice to be a consistent threat in the slot is awfully optimistic. 

JimZipCode
JimZipCode

The Chargers game with the 4th-&-29 play came two weeks before the Redskins game.

Otherwise, nice piece.  I remember Peyton Manning quoted this offseason about how everything in their passing offense depends on how the D plays the TE.  Makes sense that Caldwell's use of the TE would be a linchpin that opened up other things.

Evan5
Evan5 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Aren't these intermediate routes the easiest to replicate?  I'm not downplaying Pitta and what he has done, but I would think it would be easier to find a replacement tight end who can run 8-12 yard routes than Torrey Smith's speed or Ray Rice's running and catching or Joe Flacco's arm.  I'm just saying the gap between Pitta and Dickson or whomever is not as wide as on those other spots, I would think.

davidm089
davidm089

@Evan5 

Preach.  Its all about value over your replacement.  And that is why its such a QB driven league - QB is a position where there is GREAT disparity between the starter and the possible replacement.  Same thing with a position like Left Tackle - also, a top paid position.

There are very few TEs out there (Gronk, J Graham, Gonzales) who actually offer a MUCH higher value than replacement.

I like Pitta, but he's not in that echelon.  

And I like Boldin, but at this point in his career his value over replace isn't crazy good either.  It certainly wasn't worth 6 million for 1 year.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I long wondered why the Ravens kept Cameron around as long as they did. The offense improved dramatically as soon as they showed him the door. It's very hard to repeat as SB champions, but I think the Ravens have a good chance to win the division and that will give them a good start for the playoffs. 


davidm089
davidm089

I can't disagree more, and I think your (Peter King's) premise is faulty to begin with:

"The way the Ravens deployed Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta down the stretch turned Baltimore into a Super Bowl winner."

WRONG.   It was the 
way they got speed on the field by getting Jacoby Jones on the field on offense, and deploying he and Torrey Smith deep that made them explosive. Especially in the run game, where Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice were the beneficiary.

Yes, we will miss Q and Pitta. No, those losses aren't critical.  Pitta nor Boldin were ever 1000 yard type guys for us. 

And as far as playoff success goes, Denver and the 9ers were the 2 key games against equal, perhaps even superior, teams and they mostly came down to Flacco and effective deep shots to Smith and Jacoby.

 As for the piss-poor "diagram" that you drew up about Pitta and Boldin's changed route trees during the playoffs - that has everything to do with the other personnel on the field, namely, Jacoby Jones.

Its the additional speed on the field that allowed those routes to work, because
 the safeties have to respect the deep ball.

This will continue to be the case if Caldwell keeps speed (Torrey, Jacoby, Deonte Thompson) on the field. We should be able to plug a guy like Dickson, Furstenberg, Shiancoe, and get into the GAPING intermediate holes that Torrey and Jacoby and Deonte running deep will create.

KennyWilson
KennyWilson

@davidm089  My opinion, but youre wrong. Youre saying Jacoby and Torrey are why the offense played so well down the stretch, but Jacoby and Torrey's roles didn't change much down the stretch. Why then weren't they as effective during the regular season?

The point being made in the article is that yes, Torrey and Jacoby and their big play ability was the end result, but Boldin/Pitta running across the middle is what allowed the single coverage on the outside guys. Without that schematic change, Denver and SF blanket on top of the speed guys outside and those big plays don't happen.

Your logic is flawed.

davidm089
davidm089

@KennyWilson @davidm089 

Either you're not a Ravens fan, or you don't watch the games closely enough.  

I'm a PSL owner, watch every game live an DVR it and watch it later if possible.

Cam Cameron was allergic to using Jacoby Jones as our #3 WR outside.   Caldwell immediately starting going more single back sets and getting Jacoby on the field.  Its hardly arguable.   

Boldin and Pitta across the middle was happening the whole season.  Watch the games.  Its just the shots were more contested because no-one was respecting the deep ball.

Getting Jacoby and that speed on the field actually opened up the run game and intermediate passing FAR more than having a fullback on teh field and going play action.   It also added an additional target downfield who can attack, rather than having Leach pass protect, or run a 1-5 yard pattern.

And the Ravens offseason plays reflect agreement with me, not you.  Leach paycut, draft a versatile H-back.  Trade Boldin, retain Jacoby.   Likely going to go speed (Deonte Thompson) at their 3rd WR spot.



Times are a changing.  The Ravens front office sees it.  It'll be nice once fans see it also.

Shyzaboy
Shyzaboy like.author.displayName 1 Like

@davidm089 Peter King didn't write this article. The website is called "The MMQB with Peter King" but there are three other writers on staff, with other contributors. This article was written by Greg Bedard. 

JonKitna3
JonKitna3

I think you're missing the point of Bedard's (not King's) analysis. You seem to be using a correlation (Jones/Smith ability to stretch the field) as a causation (this ability allowed the Ravens to flourish). In reality, the speed of both Jones and Smith was well established when Cameron was fired. What Bedard quite accurately points out is that this threat was not exploited earlier to the benefit of the offense as a whole because the safety's could drop back allowing the LB to break on Pittas deep outs/seam routes and let the CB pass off Boldin on his slants/dig routes. When Caldwell allowed both Pitta and Boldin to break between the hashes it forced: a. the safety to come up to help, freeing the two deep threats or b. have the safety's remain back but drop the LBs, freeing e running game. To say they weren't "1000 yard guys" misses the point (not the least of which was Boldin was 900 and change... A pretty insignificant measuring stick to say 1000 is the difference between him being elite and not). What Bedard is saying is that the changes in the route tree FREED up other aspects of the offense, and that without those changes the Ravens were a pedestrian offensive team. One other point... Either Pitta or Boldin led the team in receiving yards in 5 of the 7 games played after the Redskins game... One of the two they did not Boldin did not play. One of the 2 Dickson led (possibly running some of these same routes that Bedard credits with kick starting the offense). Boldin also led the team in receiving TDs in those games - this all suggests that when the team was at its best, the two best receivers were Pitta and Boldin.

davidm089
davidm089

@JonKitna3 

here is the issue - you are ignore the number of snaps Jacoby Jones was on the field as a WR during Cam Cameron v. Caldwell.   Essentialy, since Jacoby has questionable hands, Cam underutilized him on offense.

It is well documented that during the Caldwell games Jones was on the field more, Vontae Leach less.   You don't need a full back on the field for effective play action, and the gains you get from the big plays from Jacoby, along with increased safety depth, led to more productivity in the run game AND the pass game.

Pitta and Boldin being on the field didn't change.   They were constants in this equation.   The changes were Jacoby Jones, Bryant Mckinnie, and play calling that stuck to the run while also committing to deep shots down the field against overwhelmed corners, INCLUDING CHAMP BAILEY.



An unverified, pencilled photo of where the author says routes were run . . . its shoddy analysis and journalism.   What are the number of short, intermediate, and deep routes run by those two from different positions on the field?   A better analysis, that wasn't so much conjecture, would have brought that.


Whats funny is that suddenly the narrative is the champs are we because they lost 2 possession guys.   They'll be missed, and while I appreciate any media attention the Ravens garner, this premise is so misguided its funny to me.

davidm089
davidm089

@KennyWilson @davidm089 @JonKitna3 

I read about the reduction in Leach's snaps in favor of Jones during that run, but its tough to google that kind of information.  Let me see if Profootball ousiders has what I'm looking for to "prove" my case.

But I am certain that I read it, and its true that the Ravens wen't more 3 WR 1 TE 1 RB sets post calwell, rather than going with a fullback on the field.



KennyWilson
KennyWilson

@davidm089 @JonKitna3  Can you provide the number of snaps as far as how often Jacoby was on the field under Cam vs Caldwell?

I think youre assuming something that just isn't true.

mjpt
mjpt

@davidm089 i think the point is that all the above factors IN UNISON benefit the offense. One begets the other. Smith going deep does not happen if the middle is not attended by Pitta or Boldin, Safeties have two choices : stay home or cover middle. The diagram shows this explicitly. up and out under Cameron meant that that the middle and deep threats were were in the same third of field horizontally. Easy to defend. One zone to eyeball with two offensive threats.Under Caldwell that changed. Defenders had to make a decision -give up easy yards in the middle staying home or on up and in routes or defend the yardage and leave the backdoor open for speed freaks like Smith. Two different thirds to defend under Caldwell regime.

JonKitna3
JonKitna3

To your latest point David M - if they don't keep safety's in the box (you're right), then we have our explanation for why Boldin and Pitta were the two most productive receivers on the team in those 7 games following the change of OC

davidm089
davidm089

@mjpt @davidm089  

TE's and Possession WRs don't keep Safeties in the box, unless they are Named Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzales.

Safeties have to keep everything in front of them, generally.  Their distance from teh LOS is usually dictacted by scheme, and then the opponents personnel and ability and likelyhood of getting downfield.

Safeties, if they creep in the box, do so usually to stop a HANDFUL of impact TEs and to stop the run game.


If you watched Ravens games last year, you would know that Torrey Smith has been commanding the double team, NOT Boldin.  You'd also know that as much as the legend of Pitta has grown, he was a ~650 yard a season type TE.  Not irreplaceable.


And again, King's premise is FAULTY.  Its was Smith and Jones taking the top of that set the plate for the rest of the offense.

RobJenkins
RobJenkins

As a Ravens fan, I get far more from articles like this, that come from outside the organization. The Ravens website ALWAYS paints an overly-optimistic picture of what's going on, often hyping up unproven guys (like Tandon Doss) and downplaying the impact of player losses. I understand, to a degree, why they do it- cant trash the team you work for. But sometimes I read a BR.com article and I'm like "do you seriously expect me to buy that?" sorry, but there is no way that Deonte Thompson or Tandon Doss will replicate Boldin's performance, just like Ed Dickson won't match Pitta's performance & chemistry with Flacco. That's just reality, not pessimism. Not saying the Ravens are in deep trouble offensively, but their WR/TE corps might well be cause for a little concern.

KennyWilson
KennyWilson

@RobJenkins 

So its impossible to believe that 2 young players can combine to put up 800-900 yards? That's only 400 yards a piece.

That would effective replace Boldins production.

JimZipCode
JimZipCode

@RobJenkins In 2011 as a 2nd-year player, Dickson caught 54 passes for over 500 yards and 5 TDs. He has probably improved a bit as a player in the last year-and-a-half.  I agree with you that Pitta had unbelievable chemistry with Flacco, and I trusted his hands more than anyone else on the team: but it's not like Dickson is going to suck.  

Dickson's 2011 stats alone would replace most of Pitta's production from last year, and Dickson will probably improve on those stats.  (Due to better usage by Caldwell + not really sharing time + more opportunities due to improved passing attack & improved D.)

Boldin will not be replaced by one guy, he will have to be replaced by committee, in this way: Torrey Smith raising his level of play, becoming an 1100-yard receiver; Jacoby Jones padding his stats a little bit (to around 600+ yards), and one of the young guys replacing Jones' numbers from last year.


ajcreedonsr
ajcreedonsr

As a Ravens fan I have to say we will miss both Bolden and Pitta this year. We also have a great front office that knows when to bring in help if needed. We've got plenty of receivers vying for the positions. If that doesn't work out in the weeks Ozzy will pick up somebody.

SKI!
SKI!

The solution might be Doss - at least that is what the Ravens hope.

cooljava_1998
cooljava_1998

I hate the ravens as much as possible, but this is a great article w/ great insight and I have to respect the changes made to make them SB champs.  well done.

BrownieDog
BrownieDog

Good article. As we Browns fans have little desire to see the Ravens overcome this challenge, we also have to credit one of our iconic HOF Cleveland players for many successes in Baltimore: we called him "The Wizard of Oz".

dhartm2
dhartm2 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

@BrownieDog Good comment.  As a Ravens fan I wish you nothing but unending sports misery until Art Modell gets into the Hall of Fame. 

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