The news that has been coming out of this summer's training camp plus what we've seen a glimpse of in pre-season makes most fans of the Baltimore Ravens believe this will not be your father's "ground-and-pound" offense of years past. The Ravens reputation has been to run the ball effectively and pass when it was dictated.
Last season, things began to change but the ability to consistently move the ball through the air was still there, as evidenced by QB Joe Flacco's statistically worst year in his NFL career, despite finishing strong over the last part of the season. Baltimore still threw the ball more than it ran it, although many people would be surprised to hear that statistic. However, the results were not what fans and critics expected.
Going into this 2012 season, everything points to Flacco having a breakout season, taking charge of the offense and earning the accolade usually reserved for the better quarterbacks in the NFL. With the deepest receiving corps in team history and still one of the best running games in the league, the Ravens offense has to potential to be as explosive as almost any in the league not named the Packers, Saints or Patriots.
The questions that will be answered over the course of the season, starting tonight, will be can Flacco live up to the hype, fulfill these expectations and silence the critics once and for all? Will offensive coordinator Cam Cameron share the confidence that QB coach Jim Caldwell now has and allow him the leeway to breakout of his shell?
Running back Ray Rice will still get his touches but when your best runner is also one of your top receivers, it means those touches could be through the air as well as via the hand-off. With at least two top-notch wide receivers and two clutch tight ends plus Rice, Flacco's options in the aerial game should keep defenses on their toes, off the line of scrimmage and unable to focus on stopping one key threat.
There will be no excuses this season if the offense falters. One should rightfully expect to see a brand new offense and not the same old Ravens, which is part of the reason Baltimore should not only beat the Bengals, but win the AFC North, go once again deep into the post season and dare we say....?