Variety helps transform Ravens’ passing offense into productive crew
It was not as if any of the moves, taken individually, stopped the NFL’s offseason news cycle in its tracks.
In fact, if the national football media seemed focused on the Ravens’ offense at all, it was to ask when first-round pick Lamar Jackson might usurp Joe Flacco at quarterback.
To the outside world, newly signed receivers John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead were reclamation projects, much like Jeremy Maclin or Danny Woodhead before them. Flacco was an overpaid player in steep decline at age 33.
Within the smaller world of the team, however, optimism bloomed as soon as the components came together for offseason workouts.
Brown accelerated past any defender who marked him. Snead snared every pass thrown over the middle. Crabtree casually tossed off displays of exquisite skill. And Flacco was there with them every day, moving freely and throwing with the oomph of a younger man.
Even in June, you could see and hear their belief in what was coming together. But none of it would mean anything, they cautioned, if that synchronicity did not translate to regular-season games.
A quarter of the way into the 2018 season, we can say the progress is real. The Ravens rank eighth in the league in passing yards per game, up from 29th in 2017. If more advanced metrics are your bag, they rank ninth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA