The Loss of Anquan Boldin is Overblown

Anquan Boldin 49ers

Most fans and many NFL analysts have given the Ravens’ front office accolades for how adeptly they’ve transformed the team’s roster.

The questions that surface are generally about the veteran leadership that escaped with the departure of Ed Reed and the retirement of Ray Lewis. Time will tell just how important or overstated that is.

However one criticism of the offseason that almost always seems to surface is the Ravens decision to trade Anquan Boldin – particularly from fans who view the new 49ers receiver as Joe Flacco’s lost go-to-guy.

Let’s marinate in that for a moment…

What exactly is Anquan Boldin?

Well, he’s essentially a strong possession receiver who can make a catch in traffic and one who supports the running game. He’s a bruiser and a tough guy, something Baltimoreans embrace. After all this is a guy who had his face broken as a member of the Cardinals by the Jets’ Eric Smith and returned to the field just a few weeks later.

Boldin isn’t fast. He isn’t a great route runner. He doesn’t possess great change of direction skills. He seldom creates separation. Essentially he’s a bigger and less nimble version of Derrick Mason.

Mason was a very good Raven, but have the Ravens missed him? Has Flacco?

Heap was an excellent Raven. Have the Ravens missed him? Has Flacco?

Why are so many worried about the exodus of Anquan Boldin?

Recently well-respected NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell sat in with Doug Farrar from Yahoo Sports. One of the topics Cosell touched on was the Ravens offense and Anquan Boldin’s role.

“As good as Anquan Boldin was and [he] has super strong hands, a very strong body – Boldin made contested catches. Joe Flacco throws those balls and that will help a guy like [Aaron] Mellette because he has good size.”

Perhaps Cosell is jumping the gun a bit with Mellette. He was very surprised that the standout Phoenix receiver from the University of Elon fell to the 7th round.

The point however is that Flacco threw to heavily contested receivers, usually Boldin, putting the ball in spots where usually only Boldin could make a play on them. Let’s give some credit to the throws and remember that Flacco hasn’t gone anywhere.

Of course Boldin did a great job of finishing plays but what’s to prevent Dennis Pitta or Ed Dickson from making similar plays? Both are faster and bigger than Boldin and if Flacco delivers the same kind of ball, why can’t they enjoy the same results on those plays normally earmarked for the smaller Boldin?

Or as Cosell suggests, maybe those end zone routes that fans remember most could go to a player like Mellette.

As fans we have short memories. We embrace Boldin because he delivered when it counted during that final stretch of the 2012 season. Yet we forget that he dropped a pass in the 2011 Divisional Game in Pittsburgh that probably cost the team a chance to host the AFC Championship Game.

Was the trade of Boldin a loss for the Ravens? Of course but let’s remember that we can’t fully assess the impact of his departure until we consider who we were able to sign or keep with his $6 million cap savings and what the rest of the receiving corps does to pull up the slack.

The bet here is that Flacco will adjust as he did when Messrs. Mason and Heap left town and he’ll find his new red zone go-to-guy.

And then, the pain of losing Boldin will subside just as it did with Mason and Heap.

Who will be Joe Flacco's new go-to wide out in 2013?
Dennis PItta (flanked out) (65%)
Ed Dickson (flanked out) (5%)
Deonte Thompson (9%)
Tandon Doss (9%)
Aaron Mellette (6%)
Other (6%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

39 Raves on “The Loss of Anquan Boldin is Overblown

  1. Nick on said:

    He was the best WR on the team last year, how could that not be a loss? Its not like Pitta wasnt playing, he was. He didn’t have nearly the year.

    • what3rd on said:

      Tony is correct. However, all of the receivers stepped up their game in the playoffs. IMO, it was because the left tackle problem was fixed when BMac was put back in as the starter. Flacco had more time to throw. The loss of Bolden will not hurt us at all.

  2. Josh on said:

    Watching Boldin was frustrating at times last season. He just cannot get separation anymore. I loved and will miss his toughness, but the offense should be much faster this year because of his absence. And, as much as I respect Cosell, I doubt Mellette sees much playing time as a rookie. I smell another Tommy Streeter IR situation.

    • JD on said:

      Drops way to many balls and will never play at the level he did during the playoffs….there just comes a time when you start going downhill and that decline comes quickly…Oz zie is a master in seeing talent and knows when it is fading

  3. Matt on said:

    As much as I admired his toughness and leadership the guy never topped 1000 yds in a season, so it’s tough to justify $6m. I’d much rather have McKinney. Pitta has been making the transition as the go to guy n 3rd and I think Dickson will finally step up big this yr too. At the end of the day someone had to go, just sucks it was boldin.

  4. Tyler on said:

    No doubt boldin will be missed. No doubt it’s a loss. But he wasn’t necessarily the phenomenal guy everyone’s making him out to be. He was rather average throughout the regular season. Did he get hot when he needed to? Yes, as did flacco. But boldin’s production can be made up for. I don’t think he’s as indispensable as it seems.

  5. Gene on said:

    Boldin is a total player in the big games, play-offs and must-win situations. San Francisco made a great improvement in their receiver corps. However, Ozzie Newsome is a seasoned riverboat gambler who knows how to win, and exactly when to fold them, as in Ed Reed w/injuries. Ravens are rebuilding with sure players and a QB that won’t depend on defense to win games. Flacco is an unknown from U of D, just like Johnny Unitas was an unknown…..Baltimore is in good hands with Flacco, bring it on !

  6. Justin on said:

    As a niner fan i was happy about the acquisition of boldin for such a cheap trade, but im not super psyched about him being our #1 now Crab is out. Im really hoping the our younger talent goes beyond stepping up in Crabs absence.

  7. Anonymous on said:

    Thank You for this article, exactly what I have been saying since the trade, especially that people were saying the same thing when Derrick Mason left and also Todd Heap was Flacco’s “security blanket”. Too much credit is being given to the players who left the Ravens and not enough to the ones who are still on the team.

  8. Glad He's Gone on said:

    Without Boldin, some good things will happen for the Ravens. First let’s remember he caught only 20% of Flacco’s passes. It will be good for Joe to have another “go to” guy but it may end up being “go to guys.” During the Super Bowl Flacco completed passes to 7 different guys, while only 4 different guys caught passes for the 49′ers. The best thing with Boldin gone is that the new young talent will have a chance to play and develop into the super stars of tomorrow. Not only Smith but also Doss, Streeter and Thompson may end up being as good as or even better than Boldin.

  9. Brian Tray on said:

    This article hits the nail right on the head. Flacco made Boldin and allowed him to use the only real advantage he had….his strength. As a pure wideout Boldin was slow and rarely got separation. Without Flacco’s missiles Boldin would not have been so productive. With Kapernik, Boldin will have a mediocre year.
    Flacco should have a much better year this season. There will be speed galore with Smith, Jones and Thompson. Doss, Pitta and Dickson will replace Boldin on possession routes, And hopefully Streeter with his 6’5″ frame and blazing speed will be another weapon, particularly in the red zone. Mellete is an unknown but clearly has a lot of potential.
    The good news is that all of these recievers will be much better because of Joe Flacco. He finally throws for over 4,000 yds and should get back to the SB if the defense is as good as it looks. Having Jim Caldwell and the best offensive line in the NFL won’t hurt either.
    This looks like the most talented and complete Team in Raven’s history. Sky is the limit.

  10. Robert on said:

    Here’s what bothers me about all this Anquan Boldin talk: If Matthew Stafford throws the ball and Megatron jumps up and grabs it, then it’s great quarterbacking, putting the ball where only the receiver can catch it. If Flacco does the exact same thing, it’s Boldin bailing out his sub-par quarterback… how does that work? Boldin was an important cog in the offense, but I think his loss is being WAY overblown. Only time will tell, though.

  11. BoldinRaver on said:

    I’m Boldin Raver. Loved the guy (obviously). But, yer spot on Tony. People are like he’ll be gone and it’ll be Torrey out there all by his lonesome. Heard Cosell rave on Mallette. Look out for Rashaad Carter. you never know …huge hands. Catches everything. Then theres Doss, of course and Deonte, the fastest Raven. Can’t wait to see this play out

  12. nyc on said:

    you will miss him…and ray and ed… that boldin is gone…you raven fans act as if he never existed…ok…watch what happens when you are 2-6 at the mid point of the season

  13. TJ on said:

    The ravens will miss him for all the reasons you mentioned in the first few paragraphs. No one on the team has the possession skills body control and hands that he seems to have. Now which the cap room it seems that it may have been a mistake. But hindsight is perfect. I’m not saying that the ravens won’t win without him. But the offense is better with him.

  14. melvin on said:

    There certainly was a ‘loss’, but I agree things have been overblown. He was reliable in the playoffs, but I fully expect our existing receivers to be able to pick up the slack. Namely Pitta and Dickson will be stepping up.

  15. JerryB on said:

    Great assessment as usual, Tony. What’s really interesting is how Flacco managed to throw the ball up for grabs under Jim Caldwell instead waiting for receivers to get open which, apparently were Cameron’s instructions. There’s enough receiver talent on this team that Flacco will have little trouble spreading the ball around, but make no mistake…..his favorite receiver is Dennis Pitta!

  16. Bruce_Almty on said:

    Statistically, Q was 27th in total yards (921) and 32nd in receptions (65). Those numbers are pedestrian and no where near the $8mil range Q was due. The Bisciotti rule of 80% of the production at 20% of the cost applies and rightfully so. Ozzie stocked plenty of talent on the sidelines, time to put it to use.
    I for one am looking forward to watching it all play out. Successfully I believe.

    As always, thanks to TL.

  17. Paul on said:

    The difference this season will be Caldwell calling the plays. Joe will breakout this season with a more than competent receiver corps.

  18. james burke on said:

    This is a solid article with an exception, Ed Dickson can’t be that guy. He had to have some of the worst hands as a pass catching Tight End last year. Go back and look at the stats and it will bear out just how bad his pass catching was. even in the Super Bowl the catches he made were like in a event itself.

  19. Rav on said:

    The one thing that is overlooked is the fact that Boldin will be 33 on October 3rd. While that is not terribly old, he is certainly not in his prime any longer. I think all of the hype that was around Ray Lewis’s retirement (My Last Ride) gave the entire team the mental incentive to push harder and go all out. It was the shot in the arm that gave the team a temporary “fountain of youth”.

    Had Boldin stayed and accepted the reduction in salary, I don’t think we would have been able to make all of the key signings of our new younger veterans like Elvis Dumervill. Also, we have so many young receivers that need to be given the chance to step up, otherwise they will be gone at the end of their 3 or 4 year contracts. We need to see what we have before we start mourning the loss of Boldin. The team will survive, and I think quite nicely, with the roster they have and all of the prospective receivers will finally get their opportunity to show what they have.

  20. Tgun#42 on said:

    Thank you for this article. Boldin is good and played well but it is not as if we lost Megatron or something. Boldin, Torrey, Rice and Pita all lead the ravens in key receiving metrics. Meaning Joe spreads the ball out. If you look at the season, So many players had clutch moments. We have to trust in the system, get younger or we turn into a team talking about remember that year we won the superbowl, instead of a team saying, we have a shot every year. He is on the downward part of his carrear just like Mason was. And the cliff for a recievers falls quick and abruptly. We may be looking for a 2nd reciever but in essence it will be our 4th option behind, Torrey, Pita, Rice…in that order then we can still dial up, Jones, Dickson, Juice, Peirce….I think you see we have options….

  21. Lyon on said:

    Is Pitta reliable? Not always. Remember our last offensive play, 3rd and short, Pitta dropped a perfect pass from Flacco. We were forced to kick a field. He nearly costed us the game. Anyway, the rest was history.

  22. Mista T on said:

    Have to strongly disagree with you, Tony. Boldin was our best WR last year, and the best in team history. There is a large fall-off of talent after Smith, Jones, and Pitta. Like every other Ravens fans, I want to see one of the scrubs step up to fill Boldin’s shoes; however, I also want to win the Maryland Lottery, meet Santa Claus, and have a hot young hottie blond come visit me next time my wife leaves town — none of these is going to happen.

    Perhaps the biggest front office blunder in team history, all to save $2 million? Stupid.

    • Ravens One on said:

      I agree, this article is misleading. Boldin is the best WR the Ravens have ever had, productive when it counts, a great teammate and a mentor for the young players on both offense and defense. I just laugh at all this conversation that leaves out what contributed Boldin’s lack of “production”. Who was the OC during Boldin’s time as a Raven minus 6 games? Cam “I’m John Harbaugh’s friend so I get to keep my job for 2 years longer than I should” Cameron! Flacco’s numbers and performance were affected by Cameron’s predictable play calling and system and Boldin’s was not. News flash, DB’s will run the route for the WR if they know what you are doing. Boldin could have had a 1000 yard season in 2012 if it were not for Cameron and being held of the final game in Cinch. Go back and watch the Redskins-Ravens tape. Boldin was dominant and yet was target only 3 times in the whole game. Boldin was destroying DeAngelo Hall.

      Speaking of Greg Cosell, didn’t he also say in 2011 that the Ravens had a 1950 offense? The lack of variation with the heavy emphasis on Detroit 22 personnel (2 TE’s), 23 personnel (3 TE’s) and 21 personnel made the offense easier to prepare for? Isn’t that what Cosell said? Of course it is! But that was conveniently left out of this article. H’mm. Where were the spread concepts that dominate Pro Football with Cameron? Jim Caldwell took over and rest is history. Boldin makes plays. He helps win games. Anquan Boldin will be missed. Book it Dano!

      • Rumor Ray on said:

        “Boldin was destroying DeAngelo Hall” …. Keep in mind D Hall was released by the skins so they could resign him at a deep discount. I loved this part of a news story on

        ” Hall is only 29 years old, but he’s gone through many phases in his career. He was never quite as good as his self-generated hype, but he’s gone from a Pro Bowl selection to an overpaid star to his latest incarnation as a trusty role player who is one of the longest-tenured Redskins on the roster”

        • Ravens One on said:

          What does your comment have to do with mine? Are you saying Hall is a bad player? If so, then you prove my point and the matchup was not exploited enough! Good coaching takes advantage bad players and poor play by opposition. Did this take place enough under Cameron? No!

  23. greg on said:

    This move is what let us get guys like dumervil. Give me 29 y/o productive pass rusher from a direct rival over a 33 yo WR who we trade out of AFC any day and twice on Sunday. I’ll always fondly remember Q. His drop in 2010 AFC-D was killer but he made up for it 10 times over but we’re better off grooming new talent and getting a doom.

  24. Paul Lukoskie on said:

    Tony – I am certainly going to miss Q. One of my favorite players of the last decade. I loved watching him play the position. However, at this point in his career he really is more or less a small tight end.

    It is time for Tandon Doss to step up. I know everyone is intrigued by Deonte Thompson and Tommy Streeter (I am too); however Doss was the 4th rounder that Joe Flacco specifically asked for in that draft. Doss needs to stay healthy and get confident in his skill set. He’s got nice size and he is a lot quicker than many would suggest about him, but he seems to lack the overall confidence (as evident by multiple drops in the playoff game against Indy last year). If he can get over that lack of confidence, I think Doss could be a fine #2 receiver.

    Regarding Mellette – I watched what I could of him and I agree with a lot of what Greg Cossell was saying. He was flat out a “man amongst boys” when playing at Elon. There really weren’t any defensive backs that could match up to his 6’2″ 215-220lb frame with decent speed. I also think Mellette looks pretty fluid running routes, which is something that bigger receivers have troubles with (a la Tommy Streeter…he telegraphs routes largely due to his height). A good “tell” about Mellette is how he performed against Vanderbilt in the 2011-2012 season. Mellette was facing off against Casey Hayward for the entire game and he just lit Hayward up. For those of you that don’t know, Hayward is a starting cornerback for the Green Bay Packers right now and he turned in a pretty damn good 2012/2013 season for the Packers.

    While that is only 1 circumstance, and Hayward could have been having a bad day, it does give Mellette a glimmer of hope that the 7th round, small school guy could figure things out a lot quicker than we’re expecting.

    It sure would be nice for the Ravens to start developing some home-grown receivers (Torrey Smith notwithstanding) than relying on free agent acquisitions and trades.

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