As good as the Baltimore Ravens receiving game is shaping up to be in 2010, the running game is sure to benefit from the recent acquisitions. With both Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason on the edges, not to mention Donte Stallworth or probably Mark Clayton in the slot, the running backs are likely to see a lot more empty space in front of them when they line up in the backfield. Hopefully, that will translate into a lot more empty space after they burst through the defensive fronts that they have ever seen here in Baltimore.
Let's not get out of control just yet, as we must remember that the Ravens are still a run-first offense and somehow I doubt Head Coach John Harbaugh will allow Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron to try to turn us into the Arizona Cardinals or the "Greatest Show on Turf" just yet.
Over the years since the Ravens have been one of the more competitive teams in the NFL (since the 2000 season), defenses have been able to crowd the line of scrimmage with eight or even nine guys and then just dare our QB's to find the open receivers, which rarely happened. Luckily, our running game was so good that we were still able to move the ball, passing only when we really had to, and then rely on the defense to either win the game or at least get the turnover to shorten the field and leading to "cheap" points for our challenged offense.
Early last season, we saw glimpses of what could have been, as the team turned to the passing game the first three games of the season before finding out that wouldn't work against the better teams in the league as we lost our next three. The Ravens returned to their older ways of running the ball and playing improved defense to make the post season, but our offensive flaws were once again exposed against the better teams in the playoffs.
Now it appears that for the first time in team history, we have an All-Pro wide receiver to go along with an All-Pro running back. This year there will be no excuse why our offense cannot up its passing attack while at the same time keeping that run-first mentality. Opponents that choose to stack the box will see Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain burst through into daylight and instead of seeing the safeties right in their face they will see the open field ahead of them. If opponents choose to dare Joe Flacco to beat them now, he will assuredly burn them if they decide to cover both Boldin and Mason one-on-one. Those two guys alone will improve this offense even if the play is not even designed for them. They will forever change the way opponents game plan to defense this offense and therefore, the possibilities are endless. Harbaugh was saying at the press conference introducing Boldin to the media that Cameron was already drawing up plays in his head as soon as the trade was announced.
Defenses will definitely spread out now for these guys. What QB Joe Flacco does with the ball when they don't is what will determine how much things change, or stay the same.