A great win over the Broncos Sunday showcased the expanded options the Ravens now have in the passing game. Here’s a look at the season stats:
Last week I compared James Proche to a pinch hitter who gets a hit in his only at-bat, and said he’s not really as good as his stats. Now coming off his best game as a pro, maybe it’s time to call out one of my bad draft takes:
“James Proche doesn’t have the athleticism to compete in this league, and he won’t make the roster.”
Thankfully Eric DeCosta is running the Ravens draft, and not me.
Proche looks like a refined & technical possession receiver. He catches damn near everything – great hands – which certainly helps the efficiency stats. He’s probably a better route-runner than Devin Duvernay is, although Duvernay is much faster. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Proche take on a lot more slot snaps.
Hollywood’s yards-per-target figure is impressive. Among the top-30 in receiving yards, only Tyler Lockett is “distinctly” ahead of him (13.3). Marquise is in a bunch with players like Deebo Samuel & Tyreek Hill & Ja’Marr Chase. Impressive.
Remember, the NFL average yards-per-target last year was 7.55. So everyone below that number in the above chart would be “below average” in receiving efficiency.
However, it’s also positional. It’s typical for running backs to have a lower yards-per-target than wide receivers. They catch the ball closer to the line of scrimmage, with a lot of defenders nearby. Even when Ray Rice led the league in yards from scrimmage, he only had 6.8 yds-per-target. Hall Of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson‘s career high was 6.7; HOFer Marshall Faulk‘s career figure was 6.8 (though in his All-Pro years he had higher).
Point being, don’t be too critical of running backs with yds-per-tgt numbers below 7.0.
Back to the Ravens, here are the stats from the Broncos game:
Eight targeted players! Five with 5+ targets! Lamar Jackson is spreading the ball around, finding open guys and using everyone. That kind of balance automatically makes a passing game harder to defend.
At the other end, Duvernay’s day was disappointing as a receiver. Of course he was awesome in the return game, a real playmaker.
The Ravens have a trio of players in the top 30 in receiving yards, in Andrews, Watkins, & Brown. All three are on pace for a thousand yards in a 16 game season (Marquise: 1300).
Does it feel weird to see the Ravens – the Ravens! – start to have the trappings of a diverse & productive passing game? It does to me. It’s a little out of character historically. But another reason it doesn’t quite sink in is because the O-line is unsettled. It doesn’t “look” or “feel” like an established & reliable passing offense because the Ravens still struggle to protect sometimes. On Sunday they had to put into the game a Left Tackle who was on the street a week or so before. It’s a tribute to the players’ resilience (and to the coaching) that they’ve managed to be so productive thru the adversity. Ronnie Stanley coming back healthy would make everything look better; it would make the passing offense more consistently reliable.
Lamar is 6th in the league in yards-per-attempt; a decimal point behind Derek Carr, the same margin ahead of Patrick Mahomes. He’s 11th in passing yards. It’s gotta be getting more difficult for his detractors to maintain their “not a real QB” stance, though no doubt they’ll come up with something.
Next Up: Home versus Indy!