The absence of Anquan Boldin showed up more on the stat sheet this weekend than it did to the naked eye during the game. Joe Flacco only completed two passes to a wide receiver the entire game against the Cleveland Browns. Both to Torrey Smith.
Smith finished the day with two catches for 38 yards with a long of 29. Flacco actually targeted Smith seven times but for whatever reasons they were only successful for two catches. Smith also drew an important pass interference penalty in the first quarter that lead to Baltimore's first touchdown.
Lee Evans was targeted four times but was held with no catches. Evans was wide open on a number of plays in which Flacco did not see him or chose to go to another player. Every time a play was designed to go to him he was either covered or the ball was badly overthrown. It is no secret that Evans and Flacco are not on the same page. It may be time to stop trying to force the ball to Lee and just hope that he can make plays as the second or third option. Maybe these two can develop some chemistry by accident because forcing the issue does not seem to be working.Tandon Doss was playing as the Ravens third receiver and did not see the field much. Doss was targeted one time on third down and the ball was under-thrown. I'm not sure if Doss ran his route too deep or if it was just a bad throw but he did not look fluid or comfortable as a receiver or on special teams.
Flacco finished the day 11 for 24 for 132 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. A quarterback rating of 73.6. Seven of Joes eleven passes were to running backs. Three to Ray Rice, two to Ricky Williams and two to Vonta Leach. Flacco was a perfect seven for seven on attempts to his backs. Maybe Baltimore should sit all of their wide receivers and have Rice, Leach and Williams line up wide in a spread formation to get Joe's completion percentage up.
The other two catches were made by tight end Ed Dickson. Dickson could have had a dominant day had he hauled in two beautiful passes that bounced off of his hands in the third quarter. Flacco did not look in Dickson's direction again after the two miscues.
Tight end Dennis Pitta is known for having, perhaps, the best hands on the team. It is a mystery to me as to why he did not even get a pass thrown his way. Pitta has been a staple on the Ravens offense in big third down situations and is a perfect solution for a quarterback having a tough day completing passes. Maybe Baltimore didn't want to show all their cards before this week's huge game in Cincinnati, although I am pretty sure the Bengals have a good grasp of what the Ravens do on offense.
It is great that Baltimore can spread the ball around to so many different positions in the passing game but they will have to find production from someone else in their receiving core if they want that first round bye. If the Bengals are able to bring consistent pressure by rushing only four then Baltimore will need receivers that can break coverage. With the possibility that Marshal Yanda may miss this weeks game, pressure from the Bengals defensive line may be a forgone conclusion.
I do not think that Lee Evans or Tandon Doss will magically start tearing up the field this week. Baltimore will either need to run the hell out of the ball or get Pitta on the field and max protect for Flacco in the passing game. Either way something will have to change this week or the Ravens will be looking at an extra long road trip throughout the playoffs...