Baltimore Ravens receivers: One-Trick Ponies?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody likes being called a one-trick pony. Is the Ravens offense full of them?

One-Trick Ponies: Or how I learned to stop counting yards and love the Ravens.

In his latest on Torrey Smith, ESPN.com's insider Jamison Hensley stated that "Steve Smith's presence should limit defenses from bracketing their coverages on [Torrey] Smith in 2014."

Hensley explored and dug up these facts to bolster the argument concluding that Smith (the younger one), is indeed a one-trick pony. Hensley did, in good taste, say at the end that the "OTP" has to "become more of a target on slants, comeback routes and quick outs. Those types of routes increase the efficiency of an offense."

Here are the reasons why Smith's "OTP" label stuck:

  • Last season, Smith led all NFL players in the most targets and routes run on passes that travel over 20 yards in the air.
  • Smith was targeted 34 times on such passes, two more than Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace.
  • Of the 130 passes thrown Smith's way last year, 26 percent went over 20 yards in the air. Denver's Demaryius Thomas (18.5 percent), Dallas' Dez Bryant (15 percent) and Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (14 percent) all had a significantly smaller amount.
  • Last season, Smith had 39 catches on throws that traveled 10 yards or less in the air, which ranked 71st among NFL players.

After Anquan Boldin was shipped off in 2012, the Ravens looked to Smith. I, personally, don't think he liked playing the primary-receiver role. He put selfish desires aside, but the tape shows he physically couldn't go full speed on all of his routes and often times landed hard after trying to jump up for a ball on a one-on-one coverage situation deep.

A lot of factors play into this, but the workload, I feel, overwhelmed the first-timer. Offensive line issues, coupled with injuries staggered the unit's production and Smith--as an incomplete wide receiver--wasn't consistent in getting opened crossing the field and fully sprinting his flies. As we covered earlier, Flacco and the Ravens offense threw a league high 40+ yards and were one of the least successful teams at it overall

No, he wasn't out of shape, but he definitely didn't finish the season on a high note. In his last four games, he registered 11 catches for 176 yards. Boldin, in his Super Bowl-winning campaign with Baltimore, had 24 receptions for 350 yards from Week 13 through 17.

How well-rounded is the Ravens receiving corps today? Be honest, we gnashed our teeth when Smith fell short of our expectations to be a true No.1 receiver. But was it unfair for us to put him on the pedestal left behind by Boldin?

What about Jacoby Jones? Every year you've regretted drafting him for your fantasy team since he's entered the league in 2007. Is Jones considered as a "OTP"?

The kickoff returner's average 26.7 yards on his returns, which is--pleasantly surprising--higher than Devin Hester's (24.8). The general consensus is that Hester was never a wide receiver, or at least revered as one. How bright is Jones' future? Hensley answered that in his writeup this morning.

Getting more passes in the Ravens' offense will be a bigger challenge than ever for Jones. The Ravens added wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Owen Daniels to go along with Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Marlon Brown. Jones may find himself No. 6 on Joe Flacco's pecking order, which is even lower than his third-place finish on "Dancing With The Stars" last year.

I reiterate the obvious but under Steve Smith's supervision and sage, the wide receivers will stack-and-shed their "one-trick pony" labels in 2014.

The fast and young Marlon Brown, Jeremy Butler, and Michael Campanaro should benefit, and balance Kubiak's West Coast style of play this upcoming season.

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