I think the Baltimore Ravens have a bit of a surprise for the NFL this year. You could start to see it's beginning last season when the coaching staff would let quarterback Joe Flacco air it out against a team with his hurry up offense. Whether it was because they were down big like in the Arizona game or if they needed a game winning drive like in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or New England. Joe Flacco is starting to become a leader.
He is starting to show that he has what it takes to put the team on his back and win games. We have seen flashes of it in the preseason over the past few seasons. I remember being surprised his second year at what he showed in the preseason but once the season started the team went back to the same old vanilla run based, throw on third down play calling.
This season looks to be the year that they unleash their creation though. In Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has the combination of size, speed and toughness that he can finally run his Air Coryell offense without the restrictions he has had to deal with in the past. Basically he hasn't had the players to run the system.
The big thing is that now he has the strong armed, determined to do so as well. Joe is capable of making every throw there is to make on a football field. He is big and strong and his offense is loaded with talent. Torrey Smith looks like an All Pro so far in the preseason. Anquan Boldin gets to move back to his best position in the slot and the team has a third receiver capable of making big plays.
Baltimore has reason to be excited about the teams running game as well. they have three play-making running backs on the roster. Yes, Bernard Pierce and Bobby Rainey are not NFL proven but i know a player when I see one and those two can play. They will not be just space eaters. They will contribute.
The one thing that could slow them down is the offensive line. A unique mix of savvy veterans and young talent give reason for hope in Charm City however, If the best five linemen are put on the field they should be pretty good. If they falter, so will the team.
The Ravens had one of the best secondaries in the league last season. The main reason for that was that they also had one of the leagues best pass rushes. We all saw how well the Ravens secondary did in San Diego when they were unable to get pressure on quarterback Phillip Rivers. The secondary didn't look so good. Of course Lardarius Webb was out that game but I'm not sure he would have made that much difference.
If the team is unable to create pressure this season the secondary could get exposed a bit. Giving me even more reason to think that Flacco will have to air it out a lot more in 2012. It's all a delicate balance that is mainly dependent on our offensive line. If Flacco is allowed the time to throw I think the team will still have enough prowess on defense to win most games. Even if they do slip a bit on defense, I think the Offense can keep them afloat.
Whatever the case may be, we are going to see a different Ravens offense this season and it's gonna be sweet...