Ravens’ Lack of Pass-Catching Options Cause for Concern

pittadossboldin

Almost a month into the preseason, it’s still too early to officially push the “panic” button on the Ravens wide receiver corps, but questioning their output and lack of identity thus far is completely fair.

The Ravens took a gamble when they shipped Anquan Boldin and his $6 million base salary to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick. Given what Boldin displayed in the playoffs, the offense would have to replace a key figure in what allowed them to call themselves Super Bowl Champions. While the actual impact of Boldin’s departure remains to be seen, the money the team saved afforded them the opportunity to stack the defense in major areas of need with talented players like outside linebacker Elvis Dumvervil, inside linebacker Daryl Smith, safety Michael Huff and defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, all of whom combine for the same price tag as Boldin.

The loss of tight end Dennis Pitta (probably for the season) is the straw that broke the camel’s back for the panic to ensue with much of the fan base. Now, after receiving a $120 million vote of confidence, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will have to try to lead his team back to the Super Bowl without two of his favorite targets from a year ago.

Just how much of a safety blanket for Joe were Boldin and Pitta? Here’s a look of Flacco’s playoff stats and the percentage of them occupied by both Boldin and Pitta.

 

Boldin/Pitta Playoff Impact
Situation Stats Percentage
Attempted Passes 55 of 126 43.6%
Completed Passes 33 of 73 49.3%
Yards 543 of 1,140 47.6%
Touchdown Passes  7 of 11 63.6%

After standing on the sidelines at practice almost every day, I can tell you that Torrey Smith deserves more credit than he’s receiving. Smith has taken an extraordinary leap to become a top-tier NFL wide receiver. However, Smith will be double-covered in each and every game until another legitimate receiving threat emerges.

Jacoby Jones had a performance during the Super Bowl that in my opinion was worthy of receiving a trip to Disney World and the nice 2014 Corvette that Flacco’s wife is now driving. Jones danced himself into the spotlight and his notoriety skyrocketed because of his appearance on Dancing With The Stars. Unfortunately, Jones has failed to step up in the part of his life that actually produces a legitimate paycheck and keeps him notable – his football career.  Yes, Jones is a playmaker and was single-handedly responsible for multiple wins last season, but so far he’s not shown he can occupy the WR spot opposite Smith.

Considering his impact on so many games last year, you couldn’t necessarily question general manager Ozzie Newsome retaining Jones at his $4.9 million value against the salary cap. However, that’s a lot of money for someone who has never been a proven commodity as a #2 receiver, and so far, he hasn’t shown the necessary evolution this training camp.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lack of development of Tandon Doss. Trading Boldin was a vote of confidence in Doss to develop into the receiver the Ravens had hoped for when Flacco hand-picked Doss out of Indiana in 2011 and the team spent their fourth round draft pick on him. If Jones has become a dancer, Doss has become a magician because he’s mostly disappeared this training camp. Don’t agree? Why else would the Ravens have to try to revive the career of Brandon Stokley, who shouldn’t be expected to flourish like he did last season in Denver (not because of his quarterback, but because he doesn’t have receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker flanked outside of him)?

During Sunday’s practice, it seemed if head coach John Harbaugh finally got the message over to Doss that he wasn’t appreciative of his efforts thus far. Stokley ran most of the reps during practice from the slot, while Doss appeared to be demoted, taking reps with some of the second-stringers, and rightfully so.

Young wideouts have emerged this preseason, including Aaron Mellette (7th round, Elon) and Marlon Brown (undrafted, Georgia). While both men saw time with the first-team offense on Sunday, they can’t be counted on thus far to replace either Jones or Doss. It’s encouraging to see good performances when called upon from Mellette and Brown, but they haven’t done anything against starting NFL cornerbacks thus far in the preseason. Right now the coaches have to view them as better performing second-stringers, until they get a shot during a preseason game against starting NFL talent. After practice on Sunday, Harbaugh spoke as if those players will get their shot this week.

While it may not be time to push the panic button for the wide receivers, the protective case has been flipped open and the finger is hovering over it. For as much progress as Smith has made, opposite him the Ravens have a $4.9 million “wide receiver” who is more impactful with his feet than his hands, and a huge question mark at the slot position. Thursday’s preseason game will reveal where this offense really is, and if things continue to unfold the way they have been, then there is major cause for concern, fellow purple faithful.

For more Ravens news and information, follow me on Twitter @RavenManiac.

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About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

28 Raves on “Ravens’ Lack of Pass-Catching Options Cause for Concern

  1. Hut Guy on said:

    Time to target Stokely, Kris. Ossie brought him in and he knows Caldwell’s schemes and is the logical man to step it up. He is a possession receiver and along with a utilization of the other acquisition, Dallas Clark, a Caldwell product, may be the solution to trying to create vintage wine out of an old discovered can of skunked Gunther.

  2. BoldinRaver on said:

    This post isn’t even a clever re-packaging of the drivel that has already been said over and over: Boldin gone and is irreplaceable, (and now that Pitta is injured, doesnt the front office look stupid) JJ suffers post Dancing blues, everybody will beat up on Torrey now. What we have is a lot of unknowns about players, schemes, strengths and weaknesses, but Goob projects those into fan panic. You really don’t respect fans do you, Kris? Closest I came to panic was helplessly watching the Ravens D give up run yards last year. I love that they addressed that because that’s the Ravens I love. They’ll find somebody who can catch a stoopid foosball. Meantime, I’ll enjoy the D’s forced fumbles, interceptions and three-and-outs!

    • Big Perm on said:

      Great comment BoldinRaver. I feel like I’ve read this article 15 times since Boldin was traded. Either someone on the team will earn that number 2 spot, or Ozzie will go out and get someone. Either way, I’m not worried.

    • Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

      Don’t respect fans? You’re cracking me up BoldinRaver. I AM a fan, which is why I’m shooting it straight instead of trying to put fluff out there – as a fan, I’m concerned with what I see.

      All I did was ask if it’s time to panic; that’s a simple question – you can say “yes,” or you can say “no.” Heading into this part of training camp, teams are supposed to gel and that’s far from what has happened, based on what I see at camp every day. Everyone else saw it last Thursday night.

      A few weeks ago, a few folks said I was picking on the wide receivers because they dropped passes. Actually, I got a good laugh out of that. What happened after the first two preseason games? Everyone complained about the dropped passes, which is exactly what I was writing about before.

      At least the team is making corresponding moves to help address the issue. If the team sat back and did nothing, I’d eat a slice of humble pie but it appears they’re concerned as well. As such, I don’t think I need to order some on this topic.

      We all drink from the purple Kool Aid once in a while, at least have the decency to understand that you’re allowed to criticize the development of one guy who is making $4.9 million per year who hasn’t shown up and another guy heading into his third season who is not only dropping the ball, but a chance at some significant playing time.

      • Big Perm on said:

        “Everyone” complained? I think you are wrong there man. Typical fairweather fans with not much common sense complained. Any true Ravens fan knows that it will not be an issue. We trust Ozzie. Is it even a fact that we need a true number 2 receiver? I think we’ll see a lot more tight ends, Ray Rice or Brandon Stokely in the slot. Also, with the cap space we have we could see a trade. Who knows? Either way, there is very little to worry about here. Relax with all the hype bro. You cant expect to be dominant at every position.

        • FLACCOFOREVER on said:

          There is general concern for wanting our squad to play well and there is true “PANIC” that our offense and team won’t be a quality unit and make the playoffs…For any true RAVEN FAN to panic at this point after considering Ozzie and Harbaugh’s track record, isn’t a true RAVENS fan! I worried about out offensive unit and receiving core for sure, but am a LONG LONG WAY away from pushing any panic button…You “RAVENS” fans better be ready for the long haul cause there is no doubt this season is gona have some low points, but I truly believe this team will persevere and make the PLAYOFFS!

      • RJ on said:

        I’m inclined to agree with this post and the actual article you wrote, Kris, especially when it comes to Doss. I’m not in “panic” mode yet, but if we play on Thursday like we did last week, I WILL be pressing that button harder than a ‘mo.

        One of the reasons I am hopeful has to do with Mellette, who appears to be a legtimate WR3 (or possibly take the #2 spot from the good but nowhere near great Jacoby Jones). But what I would REALLY love to see is LaQuan Willams FINALLY take that next step and ascend to the ranks of a starter, given all the promise he’s shown in preseason the last three years. I haven’t seen enough of Marlon Brown to make any determinations, but the fact that he is undrafted and already as “good” as Jones really shows how that $4.9 million would have been better spent on Q, who in my opinion was held back mainly due to the horrid Cam Cameron play-calling.

  3. Pat on said:

    Ozzie just cut Chris Johnson more we have about 6 mil I’m cap space. Normally Ozzie doesn’t create cap space unless a move is coming.

    • g money on said:

      that is very true, I felt the same after Jameel McClain took a pay cut. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see us make a move, very soon. I just don’t know what that move could be, but I can’t wait to see if we do and what it is.

        • Daniel on said:

          Pat I would like for you to tell me where did
          you hear about the Ravens being linked to
          Kenny Britt, if you don’t you’re just teasing us.
          By the way Kris don’t apologize for writing this
          article, good work man.

          • Pat on said:

            It’s on twitter. Right now it’s just rumors and speculation. If our receivers don’t show something Thursday, it could turn out to be more.

  4. Tgun#42 on said:

    This is a team game with more then on way to win. First of all, we have one of the best running attacks with one of the biggest offensive lines in football. We can use our running attack to control the clock, bring more deenders into the box in order to use play action, sreens and get ono on one match ups. Next we still have Dickson who will be back who has put up in his total carrear very similar numbers to Pitta, and with our new TE additions we will be fine there. Next we have not had the opportunity to let Cauldwell game plan to exploit our strengths. He can do thing in formation like stacks and bunches to create space for Torrey or JJ or who ever wins the 3rd spot to capitilze on the speed we have. Let us play a few games of substance before people jump off the bridge.

  5. CrabbyPatty on said:

    I say start Mellette over Doss against Carolina, and maybe even give Furstenberg a few snaps with the first team. What do they have to lose, other than Doss losing some reps with Flacco, which I’m not concerned about. Flacco and Doss have had plenty of time to gain a rapport and Doss has, in my eyes, failed to make any kind of name for himself.

    • RJ on said:

      I 100% agree. Doss is a “bust”, and yet another example of how with the exception of Torrey Smith, Ozzie can’t draft a decent WR to save his life. Just one look at our current roster of second-stringers is all the proof one would need, not to mention the history with guys like Mark Clayton and Travis Taylor being absolute 1st round busts, followed by an oddly silm list of drafted WR that include pathetic players like Ron Johnson, Javin Hunter, Devard Darling, Demetrius Williams, Yamon Figurs, Marcus Smith, David Reed, and now, Tommy Streeter. The sad thing about this list is that with a very few 6th and 7th round WR picks, THIS IS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF WR THE RAVENS HAVE DRAFTED SINCE 2000!

  6. Mill on said:

    I am honestly not worried at all about the Ravens pass catchers. The Ravens have literally been there done that. Remember when the Ravens dumped Flacco’s “safety blankets” Mason and Heap right before the season started. Torrey Smith looked like utter crap during that preseason and Lee Evans was injured as soon as he got here. That season Boldin maintained his status quo, Torrey emerged as a play maker and both Dickson and Pitta emerged as playmakers. Lots of unknowns but guys surprised and at the end of the day guys stepped up. This time around Torry is the guy that has to maintain status quo or improve. And there is a whole bunch of uncertainty. Someone will emerge, they always do. These guys know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. They won’t ALL let it slip through their fingers. And it may not be the guy that we all expect to emerge.

    The one thing that I think the Ravens have done wrong thus far is making the job/s Tandon and Jacoby’s to lose. Mellete, Brown, Williams, Reed and all those guys should have been getting first team reps from the beginning. It should have been a real competition.

  7. Ravenwoman on said:

    There is no concern unless they intend to keep Doss, Reed, Bajama, etc. We will be fine with Furtenburg, Stokely, Clark, Rice, Juice, Jones, Millette and Smith. Even Vonta Leach can catch out of the backfield. How many people do we really need? The coaching staff just needs to be smart about it.

  8. rocky m on said:

    it`s not that boldin`s irreplacable…it`s the fact that the ravens didn`t try to replace him…

    by any objective measure,the front office whiffed on evaluating the w.r. talent we had on hand…totally blew it…
    the draft was about as full of wide receiver talent as any in recent memory…..solid talent could have been acquired as late as the 4th round…and what makes it even worse is the fact that flacco was coming off his best ,most consistent extended performance with his confidence at an all-time high….and the fact that we have a qb guru/offensive coordinator who is one of the best(caldwell)..

    we give the front office credit for the good moves they`ve made over the years(and there have been many)..they need to take their lumps for screwing this issue up….royally….

    would have been a great time to give him as many weapons to utilize as possible…

  9. Basil on said:

    Fair question to ask and I am concerned about the pass catchers. Not pushing the panic button because I think 2-3 of Dickson/Clark/Melette/Stokely/Thompson will step up. I am actually more concerned about the rush offense, Rice has not be very explosive as a ball carrier since mid 2011 and has been totally stonewalled in a few games. If the run O is top 10 in the league, the passing game will be fine.

  10. Phil on said:

    You have to really wonder how the Ravens would be now if they had made a stronger push at Amendola or if they had even pushed for Wes Welker.
    With the recent cutting of Chris Johnson, the Ravens are rougly $6 million under the salary cap. They’re obviously making a plan to either sign a high profile cut or trade for a high profile player. I would also expect to see Jacoby Jones be asked to take a pay cut and push us up tp $8 million or so in free cap space.
    Maybe Ozzie is planning to target someone like Kenny Britt or another large bodied receiver who is having trobule with their team. I’ve heard there’s speculation that Britt could be on the trading block because of his run-ins with the law.
    Here’s to hoping.

  11. Michael on said:

    Torrey will be there. Stokley will emerge as a great 3rd down & 7 receiver. He’ll pick up 8, not 6. Clark/Bajema/Dickson/Furst will see balls too. Ray Rice will be utilized a lot more in the passing game. Juice will see some FB/H-Back catches. No panic yet.

    Jacoby is in danger of being cut if we get decent return skills out of D Reed / B Rainey. Doss is soft. Mellette could be an option. Deonte needs to get healthy, that was my guy to step up.

    No one is going to be a star, except Torrey. Joe will have to throw to whoever is open, not a “favorite”. This receiving corps isn’t going to win any awards. I’ll take reliable hands over flat out speed. Could lead to a more ball-control long drive offense rather than a quick strike offense. Put that together w/an improved D & we are talking about a legit playoff team.

    What are the unintended consequences of having poor receivers? Some of them may be OK for this team.

  12. catgirl54 on said:

    It is WAY to early to panic yet. As I recall, we looked lousy in the preseason last year, didn’t look too great in the regular season (after a spectacular first-game win against Cincy), and then went on to win the Superbowl. This is a good team, well-coached. Someone will step up.

  13. Kris JonesKris Jones on said:

    First sentence of the story:

    “Almost a month into the preseason, it’s still too early to officially push the “panic” button on the Ravens wide receiver corps, but questioning their output and lack of identity thus far is completely fair.”

    • spy on said:

      OK , I will be fair , you said you were shootin’ straight and mentioned the Boldin departure was good for the defense,,,,but wait lets’ be fair===that cap space could have been created by releasing Leach and restructuring Jones , then picking up Leach later when no one else wanted him,,,,,,,,Ozzie just panicked because his beloved defense was missing a few parts,,,,,,,,,,,he hurt the offense to help the defense after giving Flaooc all that money , looked like panic to me,,,,,,,,,,,,now that’s shootin’ straught…………

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