If the Baltimore Ravens are collectively known for one thing, it would be great defensive play. Unfortunately, they’re also pretty well known for equally inept offense, though they seem determined to shed that label this season if the first three games are any indication.
This mainly shows in their red zone performance so far through 2018. In 12 trips, the usually maligned offense is a perfect 12 for 12 with six passing touchdowns coming from Joe Flacco and six rushing touchdowns coming from the team’s stable of backs.
Not only is that a great number for red zone efficiency, it’s actually a historic one:
The first team in NFL history to score 12 touchdowns on their first 12 trips to the red zone. #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/YUSg53zuvw— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 24, 2018
Simply put, the Ravens offense has been surgical within the opposing teams 20 yard line this season. This speaks volumes about the type of offense they’d like to be. That is, a balanced attack that can pick defenses apart in different ways.
Really, that’s all fans have been asking for over the past several years. Since their last playoff appearance in 2014, Baltimore has been tilted too far in favor of their defense, neglecting to supplement the offense with great talent.
What’s funny about that is when you consider all the factors that are coming into play this season, the infusion of offensive talent isn’t nearly the only factor leading to the immense improvement. The other elements would have to be good play calling by maligned coordinator Marty Morninwheg, as well as improved health and decision making from the quarterback.
Joe Flacco hasn’t been perfect this season (especially not against Cincinnati in Week 2). But everything seems to be clicking for the veteran for the first time since his career year of 2014. In fact, he’s on pace for a career year when many people thought he was finished:
Through the first three games, it’s clear that Joe Flacco is playing his best football in years.— Garrett Downing (@gdowning14) September 24, 2018
He’s on pace to throw for 4,700+ yards and 32 TDs, both of which would be career highs by a wide margin.
Chemistry with his new receiving corps has been apparent, including rookie third round pick Mark Andrews, who has made some big time plays at tight end. The position will only grow stronger when first rounder Hayden Hurst returns to action, which should improve what’s been a robust offense this season.
There’s always going to be room for improvement, and there certainly is in this case. The running game hasn’t been especially effective this year and could use more consistency moving forward this year.
However, the offense now appears to have enough surrounding talent that they don’t necessarily need to rely on Alex Collins to make plays out of nothing as they did last season. This is well reflected by the numbers (especially in terms of ball distribution) that have them up there with the league’s best so far:
Not for nothing, Ravens offense is pretty legit. Pretty sure they'll come out of this week No. 2 in scoring offense behind Chiefs.— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) September 23, 2018
While they aren’t quite in the class of a team like Kansas City despite what the numbers say, Baltimore’s attack appears to be revitalized in 2018. They’ll need to be firing on all cylinders against the Steelers on Sunday night to walk out of Pittsburgh with a victory. For now, it’s fair to say the front office’s commitment to improving one of the league’s worst offensive units last season was absolutely legit.