From the time the season ended it was clear what the Ravens’ priorities were. One of the biggest was surrounding their franchise quarterback with more protection and playmakers.
The offensive line is a fluid situation, but several questions have already been answered. Right tackle is the only spot that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer at this point. And yes, injuries can happen in the preseason, and while it wouldn’t be ideal they have two starters from last year waiting to get their shot to redeem themselves.
Even before the addition of Owen Daniels the Ravens have arguably their deepest group of pass catchers in team history.
A legitimate deep threat in Torrey Smith, an elite tight end in Dennis Pitta and a proven veteran like Steve Smith provide Joe Flacco with plenty of targets. Add Owen Daniels, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones to the mix and the Ravens are primed for a solid passing attack in 2014.
Now that Ozzie has stacked the deck for the coaching and staff and his Super Bowl MVP, it comes down to them to translate that to a potent offense on the field.
2014 was not entirely Joe Flacco’s fault, let’s make that clear immediately. He had a porous offensive line and no one who really threatened defenses with the exception of Torrey. Take Smith out of the game and opposing defenses normally had their way. The result of that was only scoring 30 points once all season.
But, some of it did come down to Flacco. There were some poor decisions and some missed touchdowns on under thrown balls. You don’t throw five interceptions in a game like he did in Buffalo, without making some mistakes. It wasn’t all his fault, but to say none of it was is false.
Regardless, 2014 brings new hope. Additions to the line, a healthy Dennis Pitta and a handful of new playmakers. Flacco has been surrounded with the tools he needs. The protection, while still a work in progress, has been upgraded.
It is now up to Joe to show that last year’s down year was mainly the result of not having enough talent around him. And, while no one expects him to always be lights out like he was in the 2012 playoffs, he can consistently come somewhere close to that.
The way Flacco’s contract is structured essentially makes it a three-year deal. With an astronomical cap number in year four of around $29 million, the Ravens will need to renegotiate or sign him to an extension that makes that cap number more manageable. However, if he throws more interceptions than touchdowns with his arsenal of weapons in 2014, the Ravens may begin to re-think their approach.
Do the Ravens want to cut Flacco at any point of his contract? Of course not. The ideal situation for both parties is he plays well, and the Ravens remain consistently competitive and make the playoffs again for the next five years. But, they won’t pay him $29 million dollars, or anywhere near that number if he can’t show that last year his play was the result of a set of bad circumstances.
He now has the weapons around him, and it’s up to him to use them.