The purple and black are going to run out of the tunnel for the first time at M&T Bank Stadium with a lot of new faces and missing some familiar ones. Free agency has taken its toll on the Super Bowl champs, but there is no doubt the Baltimore Ravens will pick themselves up off the mat and live to fight another day. The loss of Ed Reed is certainly a difficult one to swallow, but $5 million per year is a bit steep for a player of Reed’s declining quality. I wrote that the Ravens should keep him, but I did not expect that there would be another team courting him like Dwayne Wade did with Lebron and Bosh. As many have said, Ed leaving marks the end of an era and all the offseason departures on defense marks a changing of the guard. This team will rely a lot on their offense and all the pressure will be on Joe Flacco.
I feel that the Ravens could be successful running an Indianapolis Colts type offense circa 2006-2010. In my opinion, the Ravens can model their offensive identity around this team that was a perennial playoff squad and made the Super Bowl twice.
In the heyday of Peyton and the Colts, they ran the same formation on almost every single play. This formation included one back that was capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Joseph Addai played this role. They had two wide receivers, one was Reggie Wayne and the other was Marvin Harrison and then Pierre Garcon. They played one slot receiver - Brandon Stockley and then Anthony Gonzalez. Lastly, they played with one tight end in Dallas Clark. The Colts ran basically every play under normal circumstances out of this formation and it was very conducive to the no-huddle. And finally, Jim Caldwell was the architect of this offense – he is our Offensive Coordinator!
The Ravens can be very successful with this offense with minor tweaks. The paradigm behind the offense is to put your best offensive players on the field and keep them there at all times. I propose that the Ravens do this with a double tight end set. The Baltimoreans are blessed with two very athletic tight ends who are also adequate blockers.
We will play with two wide receivers, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones/Tandon Doss (will need to platoon because you are asking a receiver/kick returner too many plays). Assuming we are able to retain them, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson will flank the line at tight end. I think they are both athletic enough to move a few steps to the left or right and play in that slot position. This will enable them a quicker release off the line. Lastly, Ray Rice will play in the backfield, of course. Ray has proved that he is a great pass catcher out of the backfield and he certainly adds a lot more to the offense then Addai did.
The offensive plan is predicated on the no huddle and the ability of the Offense Coordinator to be innovative in play calling and creation. The ability to be creative using the same exact formation is imperative. If the Ravens keep Vonta Leach they will need to find a way to incorporate him in a way that it is not obvious that we will be running. Leach provides a dimension that the Colts offense did not have.
The Ravens are a team moving from a defensive to offensive methodology. This is a way to keep our best players on the field and put Joe Flacco in situations where he is at his best.