Don’t Look Now, But This Ravens Offense Has The Potential To Be Special

Featured, Sports and Bets — June 16, 2014 at 7:16 am by

by Babes
As Ravens fans, it’s like we’ve become numb to the offensive situation here in Baltimore.  Our beloved Ravens have been average to out bad on offense dating all the way back to the Ted Marchibroda era.  Just four times in the team’s eighteen year existence have the Ravens had a top ten offense in the league.  But something about this crew gives me some realistic aspirations.  A top ten offense may finally be in the cards.

It starts at the top with coaching and having the personnel that fits the offensive system.  Gary Kubiak and his west coast/zone running concept seem to really fit what the Ravens have amassed personnel wise.

Kubiak brought in one of his main cogs from his Houston days in tight end Owen Daniels, and pairing him with Dennis Pitta gives the offense a great foundation for their play-action passing game.  Ravens beat writer Ryan Mink just did a nice piece the other day on second year fullback/H back Kyle Juszczyk, and how he has the potential to catch forty to fifty balls in this offense playing the James Casey role.  If Juszczyk pans out the way they hope he can, we could have yet another pro bowl fullback here in Baltimore.  The offense will certainly have a very defined role carved out for Juszczyk in all facets of the game, be it blocking, running, or catching the football.  Throw in rookie tight end Crocket Gilmore and his athleticism, and you have what Kubiak offenses have thrived on for years; the very real opportunity for all five eligible receivers to catch the ball on any given play.  That scenario is a nightmare for defenses if they are forced to cover the whole field while monitoring five potential targets.

The addition of Steve Smith enhances the Ravens offense in three aspects.  First and foremost, he will replace the production they lost with Anquan Boldin’s departure. Smith will be a solid chain mover and a reliable possession receiver.  Secondly, he will pose a problem schematically for defenses that they didn’t have to worry much about last year.  The intermediate passing game was horrible for the Ravens last year.  Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are dangerous deep threats, but crisp route running is not their speciality.  The offense lacked a precise route runner who could navigate zones in the middle of the field, and Steve Smith has made a living on doing just that his whole career.  Lastly, the leadership and fire Smith will bring to this unit will be invaluable.  Another aspect of Boldin’s game that the Ravens sorely missed was his quiet leadership and tough demeanor.  I wouldn’t call Smith’s form of leadership quiet by any stretch, but the effectiveness will still be there.

Of course all of this sounds great, but it won’t mean shit if we can’t run the ball.  This offense is predicated on establishing the run and controlling the line of scrimmage.  The Ravens were out awful at both of those facets of the game last year.  Have they done enough to improve this unit?  They resigned Eugene Monroe, which was huge, to solidify the left tackle spot.  Both guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele will be back healthy.  They could realistically be one of the top five guard tandems in the NFL.  The addition of Jeremy Zuttah will undoubtedly be a significant upgrade over Gino Gradkowski, and the battle between Rick Wagner and Ryan Jenson will hopefully produce a starting caliber right tackle.  The thing with Kubiak’s offense is that it’s much easier on offensive lineman than a lot of other systems.  Linemen don’t find themselves on an island much in pass protection because the majority of the time they are aggressively firing out for run blocks or play-action pass protection.  If this line can gel together in this zone scheme, and the running game is at least in the top half of the league, this offense will hum quite nicely.  If they can’t run the ball again, then look for Joe to have another challenging year.

I feel this line will gel, the running game will be successful, and Joe will be back to his top ten in the league status.  If Matt Schaub could make pro-bowls in this offense, then Joe most certainly can do the same.  I don’t think it’s outrageous to say this offense can put up 24 plus points a game and be a top ten offense both in yards and points scored.  I’m almost envisioning a Saints like attack in the way that there will constantly be different personnel packages filtering into the game on every down.  First and ten, here comes 13 personnel with one back, three tight ends, and one receiver.  Second and five shuffles in 22 personnel, with two backs (one being fullback/H back Juszczyk and his versatility), one receiver and two tight ends.  Third down brings in 11 personnel with one back, Dennis Pitta, and three receivers (Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, and Steve Smith in the slot.)  The possibilities are endless when you can use personnel groupings to create mismatches.

Barring any major injury setbacks, this offense will surprise people with its potency.  My guess is Gary Kubiak will be a very popular guy around Charm City come this fall.

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