Why did Baltimore's deep passing game struggle in 2013?
For one, Ravens QB Joe Flacco never appeared to consistently be on the same page with his receivers. The quarterback had far too many ill-advised decisions or imprecise throws and his receivers also dropped their fair share of balls.
Two, the offensive line’s struggles often made Flacco get rid of the ball quicker than he wanted, preventing deep routes from developing. And three, the departure of Anquan Boldin and the injury to Dennis Pitta took away the Ravens’ two primary underneath threats who work the middle of the field. With them not on the field, the defense could roll a safety and focus on not allowing Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones to get free deep.
But that third issue shouldn’t be a problem this year, not with the addition of Steve L Smith, Owen Daniels and OC Gary Kubiak calling the plays.
“It is definitely [about how you] get the ball out of your hands, because there’s always a route somewhere that you can get the ball out to, and as a quarterback, you have to know when you have a problem and when you have to get it out,” Flacco said last week. “I think that’s the biggest thing with going through your progressions and having a set progression for this, for that. There’s no real guess work, there’s no real gray area, and that allows you to get the ball out real quick.”
Whether it also leads to Flacco reviving his team’s deep passing game remains to be seen but the pieces certainly appear to be in place for the Ravens to improve in that area.
Losing Anquan Boldin to free agency and Dennis Pitta to injury certainly hurt Flacco, who finished #19 after three straight top 14 finishes. Pitta is back, but Boldin is still gone, though the team acquired Steve L Smith to replace him. Expect more low-end QB2 numbers given all the depth at QB. Flacco is a bounce back candidate if things break his way.