Over the next three days as we approach the NFL Season opener that will put our defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens up against the Denver Broncos, we will preview the offense, defense and special teams of the Ravens for the 2013 season. Today in part one; we will preview the Baltimore offense.
The Baltimore Ravens revamped their defense this offseason and that was by complete design, but the offense was thought to be pretty much intact with the exception of trading WR Anquan Boldin. Upon further review, not so much.
It was becoming apparent that TE Dennis Pitta was being looked to as the heir replacement to Boldin and the production he provided over the middle of the field, but all of that changed early in training camp when Pitta was lost due to a dislocated/fractured hip.
The question then became, what does TE Ed Dickson bring to the table now as a starter and what do the Ravens do to replace Boldin’s production now?
Enter GM Ozzie Newsome, and the infamous saying around Baltimore, “In Ozzie We Trust.” Newsome went out and signed two veteran pieces that can help this offense move the football and compliment their speedsters on the outside. TE Dallas Clark and WR Brandon Stokley found themselves with the Black and Purple due to injuries and needs, but both players are here to prove they can still play and help carry the Ravens to a sixth consecutive playoff berth.
Despite signing these two veterans, it quickly became apparent that the Ravens appeared to be in trouble with the group of wide receivers they had, with only Torrey Smith (and now Stokley) as the proven NFL wide receivers. Jacoby Jones, who has been electric in the kick return game, will now be a starting wide receiver for this team, but he is going to have to improve both his route running ability and his hands in order to make a big impact for Joe Flacco and this offense.
Late in the preseason, we saw the emergence of two rookie wide receivers that may be quickly approaching the starting spot held by Jones, in the likes of Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette. With two weeks or so left in training camp, all of the sudden we surprisingly saw Head Coach John Harbaugh putting Brown and Mellette on the practice field with the first team offense. Over the course of the final two preseason games we found out why as both Brown and Mellette were very impressive in the final two games and both will see substantial playing time this season.
The Ravens offensive line returns four of the five starters from their Super Bowl XLVII Championship team with the lone exception being the retired center Matt Birk. The offensive line is going to be a strong point of this team as long as the injury bug does not hit too badly.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will be handling the rushing duties, as expected and both are set to have big years. With the way the Ravens receiving core currently looks, Baltimore may be relying on the run a little more than normal, thus Rice and Pierce are going to be hugely influential.
Surprise Offensive Player
Keep an eye out for rookie TE/FB/HB Kyle Juszczyk as he is one of the most versatile players in the NFL, and will be used in a wide variety of ways in this offense. He has been lined up in the slot, in the backfield and on the end of the line this preseason, so there is no telling where he may be lined up, but he will certainly be influential.
How do you feel about the Ravens offense heading into the 2013 season? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment and let the debate ensue.
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