In two seasons sitting behind "tight end" Jimmy Graham, veteran back-up Benjamin Watson produced a total of 39 catches, 362 yards, and four touchdowns. Finally, after the trade of Graham to the Seattle Seahawks, Watson was able to shine through emerging for 74 receptions, 825 yards and six touchdowns. Is the difference really skill and sitting behind Graham on the depth chart, or the New Orleans Saints high powered Drew Brees passing attack?
Looking through the years you would think Watson was always "just about to break loose", but the numbers show a strange scatter plot. Inconsistent jumps from high twenties to forty plus receptions, then collapsing back to twenty again. The consistency doesn't show, and it's not re-assuring to Ravens fans.
Setting one thing straight, the Ravens are not relying on Ben to become Gronk, Graham or Olsen. Instead, they are re-tooling the position group to adjust. Nick Boyle decided to continue his use of PED's, locking him up for 10 games. Crockett Gillmore isn't at 100%, and Dennis "Hip Menace" Pitta announced only yesterday his plans to once again return to the NFL. The only sure thing so far this season is Maxx Williams, the talented and only 22 year old starting caliber tight end.
Benjamin Watson is an amazing locker room individual, with reliability in the position. He won't be cracking near 1,000 yards, especially in the Ravens heavy-styled offense, but a couple of chain-moving catches is exactly what is being asked.
The big worry here, or the main reason for the article is will Ben truly produce enough to call the free agency move a success, rather than receiving a compensatory pick after losing Matt Schaub and Courtney Upshaw to the Atlanta Falcons.
The quick summary: Drew Brees clearly inflated Ben's numbers. After the loss of Jimmy, the passes needed to land somewhere, and Ben Watson filled in fine.
What to truly expect: It's a tough answer. The Ravens utilization of tight ends works very well, at least during the Gary Kubiak year. If Trestman continues only adding "wrinkles" to the playbook, then the tight end passing game will flourish, and a loaded TE depth chart will sky-rocket in success. Ben Watson will absolutely be a part of the system, and also will fill in. Just don't expect a 70 catch-800 yard season such as last year.