November 11, 2012
John Harbaugh was serious when he said he wanted to get other playmakers involved.
It hadn't gotten so bad that the Ravens were putting head shots of skill players such as Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson and Jacoby Jones (pictured) on the backs of milk cartons, but their recent disappearing acts coincided with the struggles of quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense. Their lack of impact led Ravens coach John Harbaugh to remark at his weekly news conference last Monday that he wanted to see more from Pitta and Dickson, his pair of pass-catching, mismatch-creating tight ends. Harbaugh also said that he wanted other weapons, such as bruising backup running back Bernard Pierce, second-year slot receiver Tandon Doss and Jones, a speedy deep threat, move involved in the offense. He wasn't kidding.
Pitta and Dickson combined for five catches for 89 yards as the Ravens opened up a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. Dickson stretched the seams with a 40-yard reception and Pitta made a leaping catch in the end zone. Four of those five catches came on third down, an area that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said last week was the offense's biggest area of concern. Jones got in the act, too, running under a beautiful deep ball for a 47-yard gain, one of his two receptions for 54 yards on the afternoon. Doss made a fancy leaping catch for 26 yards during another touchdown drive in the third quarter. In all, eight different receivers caught passes in the 55-20 win. Six players carried the ball, including Pierce, who got a career-high 10 carries. The Ravens also got rushing touchdowns from Flacco and punter Sam Koch. Yes. Really.
Much is made, and rightfully so, about the balancing act when it comes to the workload of running back Ray Rice. Rice and fullback Vonta Leach are the only Pro Bowl playmakers on offense, and the team is clearly better off when Rice touches the ball 20 times. But it is also a challenge for Flacco to keep each of his skill players happy. Thankfully, Flacco said, "I don't think we have any selfish guys." The offense was at its best early in the season -- and again on Sunday -- when Flacco was spreading the ball around, particularly with Pitta and Jones getting more targets. Each of these guys brings something different to the offense and matchups will dictate who should get the ball. But the Ravens are smart for trying to attack teams with all their weapons, not just their big guns -- Rice and wide receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.