As the offseason began to unfold the Ravens front office made it clear that they wanted a “move-the-chains” type of receiver. Those sentiments were echoed by a few players.
“That’s probably someone that we need on a consistent basis,” Torrey Smith stated in an interview with the teams’ website in February. “Another weapon like that is just another person that Joe [Flacco] can rely on.”
In 2013, the Ravens logged 295 total first downs. Of those 295 first downs, 189 came on pass plays. Smith led the Ravens with 49 total receiving first downs with 15 of those receptions coming on third down.
Tight end Dallas Clark (12), wide receivers Marlon Brown and Tandon Doss each had eight and veteran receiver Brandon Stokley (7) round out the top-five third down conversions made by the Ravens receiving corp.
After finishing 29th in total offense in 2013, the Ravens desperately needed to add another chain mover or two but did they?
Daniels, who played in just five games in 2013 was targeted 15 times on third down. Of those 15 targets, Daniels hauled in six receptions to convert first downs. With the Ravens likely to run more of a two tight end base offense in 2014, if Daniels can stay healthy one can expect those numbers to be on the uptick.
For Steve Smith, his role as a chain mover is a must and one that the Ravens are counting on, however it certainly won’t be his only role as John Harbaugh alluded to in an interview with Pro Football Talk at the NFL owners meetings.
“His role is going to be to help us score points, move the chains,” Harbaugh said.
“You know, he’s unique, this whole thing about 3rd receiver, 2nd receiver, slot receiver, outside receiver he almost kind of debunks all of that. We’re going to try to put him in position to do the things he does well but he does a lot of things well.”
In 2013, the veteran receiver was targeted 33 times on third downs in 15 games by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Smith converted 18 of the 33 targets for first downs and finished with 44 total first down receptions.
After spending 12 games on the Ravens injured reserve/designated to return list, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta was a sight for sore eyes, particularly those of Joe Flacco when the he took the field for the Ravens final four games of 2013.
In those four games Pitta had 11 total first downs including four third down conversions.
On paper the Ravens’ brass might say “mission accomplished” when it comes to acquiring chain movers.
Now it’s up to Messrs. Daniels, Pitta, Smith, Smith, Brown and Flacco to get it done on the field on Sundays this fall.
Someone tell those Chain Gang guys to bring their A game!
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