Com­ple­men­tary pieces

Va­ri­ety helps trans­form Ravens’ pass­ing of­fense into pro­duc­tive crew

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Childs Walker

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

DON WRIGHT/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

DON WRIGHT/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

JUSTIN K. ALLER/GETTY IM­AGES

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