The Search for No. 2

Jacoby v Eagles

The search for the Ravens No. 2 wide receiver may have ended before it even started. If recent OTA’s are any indication that player fox-trotted on to the field for the first time this spring just last week.

His name – Jacoby Jones.

Most will probably think that Jones doesn’t show consistency as a ball catcher and that making him a bigger part of the offense will diminish his effectiveness as a return specialist. Last year he led the league with a 30.7 average on kick returns, scored 4 TD’s on special teams including the electrifying 108-yard kickoff return in the Super Bowl, and he was named All-Pro as a specialist.

When asked recently about the Ravens offense, coordinator Jim Caldwell repeatedly mentioned the team’s desire to “take the top off the defense.”

Essentially what he means is that with downfield speed courtesy of Jones and Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco’s big arm, opponents will be forced to commit resources to protect against the deep passing game and in doing so stretch them to the point that they are vulnerable underneath.

That then allows the Ravens to dissect the middle of the field and force opposing linebackers to cover the likes of Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson and Ray Rice amongst others.

Advantage Ravens!

Perhaps the first hint that the Ravens planned to utilize Jones more in 2013 can be found in his contract. He is due to be paid $4M this season, which includes a $1M bonus. That’s a lot of cake to pay a man who caught only 30 passes last season, particularly when taking into consideration that the Ravens parted ways with Anquan Boldin who caught 65 balls in 2012 and another 22 in the postseason. Boldin was due $6M in 2013.

The plan in theory makes sense. The Ravens don’t really need Jones to match Boldin’s catch total although when given the chance he can post respectable numbers like he did in 2010 when he snagged 51 balls as a member of the Texans.

But taking the top off the defense will allow Pitta to find those soft spots in coverage as he so adeptly does when attacking short zones. Or if opponents are in man coverage Caldwell can call upon the speed of Dickson on crossing routes. Dickson is a matchup nightmare and could force defensive coordinators to use more nickel packages, which then opens things up for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Deonte Thompson is receiving praise from the coaching staff and if he can translate that into productivity on Sundays, his combination of speed, route running precision and change of direction skills can also place pressure on nickel and dime backs.

It’s a work in progress but one with potential, guided by the capable steering of Caldwell. Maybe Ozzie Newsome does find a veteran receiver who can help. Maybe he doesn’t but until such time Caldwell will “coach who shows up”.

With the proper ball distribution the Ravens can develop a more precise passing game that can keep defenses on their heels.

And then maybe, while they are taking the top off defenses, they can pop the top off more champagne bottles in New York come February.

It’s going to be a fun and interesting season.

NOTES: We would like to extend our heartfelt get-well wishes to young members of Ravens Nation who are ailing. On Saturday 5 year old Jalyn Shaw was struck by a motorist during the Ravens Beach Bash in Ocean City, MD and is recovering at Children’s Hospital in Baltimore… A speedy recovery is also our hope for Ashton Dean who was born with arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and is currently hospitalized while fighting complications caused by this condition. Please cheer Ashton on by liking his page on Facebook. Our condolences to the family of Ken Phillips and all of Ravens Nest 1 of Harford County. Ken who passed on June 1 was a long time member of Ravens Nest 1 and passionate Ravens fan. He is survived by his wife Ann, son Doug, and daughters Karen Decker and Lauren Gray, and grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) 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

11 Raves on “The Search for No. 2

  1. Scott on said:

    This is exactly what I have been saying ever since the post-Boldin panic set in amongst the fan base. Smith and Jones on the outside, Player C underneath. That will be the recipe for success this year.

    … and speaking of Boldin (not that I didn’t like having him on the team), but people have seem to forgotten that the reason for so many of his “fabulous” catches and how he “pulled in everything that that was thrown to him” was because for the entire season, he couldn’t get separation from a greased pig. You can’t keep that up forever, and I’m not opposed to replacing a big cap hit with a young receiver who can better exploit the space that will open up underneath due to the speed on the outside.

  2. JerryB on said:

    Not to diminish Boldin’s obvious importance to the team last year, particularly in the post season, but his production during the regular season was less than sensational, with a total of 4 TD catches! Of course, that was with Cam Cameron as the OC. In any event, there is more receiver ability on this team than they credit for and, as you opine, this should be a fun offense to watch…..

  3. roy on said:

    Since Boldin was a no – low show most of the season, it gives the Ravens until the end of the season to discover their next man up.

  4. Josh on said:

    Speaking of the WRs, were you able to gauge anything from Streeter during OTAs? I am intrigued by his size/speed ratio, coupled with him having a year in the system. We have the potential to be very fast on both sides of the ball this season.

  5. Phil fm Frostburg on said:

    I’m not sure Jacoby has the cardio to play every down. He’s always complaining, in jest but with some truth behind it, about being tired after a long run. Can he run a post on first down and be at 100% for 2nd and 3rd down as well?

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