After a disappointing 8-8 season from the Ravens, many are looking for improvement from the offensive side of the football. The Ravens weren't the most prolific of offenses in 2016, finishing the season at 17th in total offensive yards (5563). They also lost two receivers (Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken), in addition to tight end Dennis Pitta to a hip injury.
Pitta has provided Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco with a safety net since 2010. Now, without that safety net, other tight ends will have to step up.
Baltimore isn’t devoid of talent at the tight end position. They have another veteran in Benjamin Watson, who caught 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns in 2015, which was his last season of play. Baltimore also has Darren Waller, Nick Boyle, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams. All of them provide skill sets that are diverse and useful to the advancement of Baltimore’s offense.
To combat the problem of losing so much offensive firepower, the Ravens signed wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to a two-year deal last week. In 2016, Maclin caught 44 passes on 76 targets for 536 yards and two touchdowns. The 29-year old wasn’t healthy much of the season with a groin injury, but after participating in his first few practices with Baltimore, he is raring to go.
The Ravens also return Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace. In 2016, Wallace had his best season since playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011. He caught 72 passes on 116 targets for 1017 yards and four touchdowns. Perriman has looked impressive during OTAs and minicamp after coming off of his first season played in the NFL. Last year, Perriman caught 33 passes on 66 targets for 499 yards and three touchdowns.
Baltimore could also add Eric Decker, who they were recently linked to by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. On Wednesday, Decker visited the Tennessee Titans and it seemed to go well for them. Although this may seem disheartening to some, the Ravens have an even larger need on the offensive side of the ball that isn’t at wide receiver.
"If I don't get an offensive lineman, somebody is going to start shooting at me. If I have one bullet left in that gun, I better save it for an offensive lineman," Bisciotti said on Tuesday during a conference all with season ticket holders, via the Baltimore Sun.
If they don’t get another receiver, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The running game was lackluster to say the least. Ranking 28th in the league, Baltimore had some serious issues while run blocking. Former Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah was pushed back constantly and other linemen were injured. Their need to solidify the offensive line positions is huge.
"I think right now, we have a lot of confidence in Chris Moore to be our fourth wideout and let the competition begin with the fifth and sixth wideout," Bisciotti said. "[Michael] Campanaro, as you know, has to stay healthy and Keenan Reynolds is developing. Chris Matthews is doing some nice things in camp and did nice things last year in camp. I'd say that I don't think that we have room for a starter at wide receiver now and I do think there's going to be some talent out there that could challenge for a starting position on our offensive line. I think I'm going to save that last punch for an offensive lineman."
Now, Baltimore will somewhat change their blocking scheme under offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris and running game coordinator Greg Roman. Roman was the architect for the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl run, with Colin Kaepernick cutting through defenses like a sharp knife. They will beef up their interior lineup with either Ryan Jensen, John Urschel or Matt Skura at center.
Baltimore also built depth on the offensive line in the 2017 NFL Draft. They selected offensive guard Nico Siragusa (#122 overall) and offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor (#159 overall).
They may also look to get a right tackle through free agency as well. The most intriguing of the remaining ones is Ryan Clady, who most recently played with the New York Jets. Clady has started in 106 games over the course of his eight year career. Last season with the Jets, Clady started in eight games and played in nine.
The Ravens have also added Danny Woodhead to the backfield. Woodhead, 32, is coming off of an ACL injury, but is now completely healthy. After losing fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who accounted for 37 receptions and 266 yards, Woodhead will be a valuable asset as a receiver. Just in 2015 before his injury, Woodhead had 80 receptions.
Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon (serving a four-game suspension to start the season) are also returning at the running back position. West and Dixon provided a one-two punch last season, that was only stymied by lack of running the ball by the offense. There will be an all-out battle for the three spots at running back.
This offense isn’t a finished product, but the possibility of what it could be is quite intriguing.