The Ravens are looking to build a better offense in 2018, specifically improving a passing offense that finished 27th in the NFL. After acquiring receivers Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead IV, as well as drafting tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, much excitement has surrounded their offense.
Last Thursday, Baltimore’s first-team offense took the field against the Los Angeles Rams. Although it was against a majority of Los Angeles’ second-team defense, the offense shined. Joe Flacco went five-for-seven with 71 passing yards and one touchdown.
On his lone drive, Flacco hit two of his new weapons — Hurst and Crabtree. Baltimore’s first play of the game was a 12-yard pass to the rookie tight endfor a first down. Crabtree would later catch a pass where Flacco scrambled to his left for a 30-yard gain. The Ravens would finish off their drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to fullback Patrick Ricard.
Despite the initial hype surrounding the offense, Flacco has continued to display his calm demeanor.
“I don’t know if you really do anything with it besides come back the next day and try to do the same thing,” Flacco said on Tuesday. “I think it builds confidence as a team and as an offense. I definitely think that you can come out here and see that we have been doing a good job.”
Flacco finished 21st in passing yards among NFL quarterbacks with 3,141 yards. Despite Carson Wentz missing three games with a torn ACL and LCL, he finished with more passing yards (3,296) than Flacco. The 33-year old Ravens quarterback also finished with just 5.7 yards per passing attempt, ranking last in the league.
To combat Flacco’s lack of yardage and inability to get the ball down the field last season, the Ravens have been moving the ball downfield more in camp with Brown entering the fray at receiver. Brown averaged 14.2 yards per reception in 2017, which would have trailed only Mike Wallace (14.4) for second-most on the team. The two have especially seemed to build a connection with one another in multiple areas of the passing game.the
“I think that besides building confidence and creating that team atmosphere and starting to bond together like you do in training camp — those are all really important things that should carry over to game time and I think besides that I don’t think you can read into that too much and sit there — we don’t have a lot of time to sit there and think about all those things,” Flacco said of the offense building confidence. “We’re here, we’re practicing, we go get our bodies worked on, we have a walk-through and we repeat the schedule again the next day.”
Crabtree, Snead IV and Hurst have also put in extra work on the side with Flacco and the results have shown throughout camp. In Baltimore’s joint practices with the Rams last week, all three of the new receivers had battles with some of the better secondaries on paper in the NFL including Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
Each receiver flashed in practice against Rams with the young tight ends continually improving. Also showing up in Baltimore’s passing game during camp have been tight ends Nick Boyle and Maxx Wiliams.
“Our quarterback coach, James Urban, a couple weeks ago, I remember him saying, ‘Did you know Nick Boyle is 280 pounds?’ Or whatever he was, because he’s out there making diving catches on corner routes and things like that,” Flacco said of Boyle. “I think that him and Max [Williams] both — you talk about these new tight ends a lot and what they’re going to do for our passing game, but I think you can’t discredit the two of those guys and what they’re capable of doing in both the run and pass game.
“Obviously, [it is] a little bit more in the run game, but really, how capable they are of doing everything in our offense.”
Boyle and Williams were both drafted in 2015 and the duo have been used sparingly in the passing game. The two have combined for 99 receptions, 754 yards and two touchdowns. If both players make the club, they could also be contributors to what looks like an improved passing offense.