For the past few years, it seems as if the Baltimore Ravens’ offense has slowly gotten worse and worse. The offense has gotten so bad, sometimes I have to do a double take to make sure I’m not watching the Kyle Boller led, early 2000’s offense. But what’s happening to cause such regression? Depending on who you ask, the blame ranges from Ozzie Newsome, to the coaches, to Joe Flacco himself, but we may have found the underlying reason for all of this.
On November 8th, retired Raven great, Dennis Pitta joined Brett Hollander on WBAL Radio to discuss about the struggling offense. During the interview, Pitta said something that was interesting, yet somewhat disturbing.
“You can point to a lot of factors as to why [the Ravens] offense has struggled, but one of [them] comes down to the philosophy. I’m completely against the fact that you should go in thinking we should play conservative football and play to our strengths which is our defense. I think you have to go in with the mindset that ‘we’re going to put up as many points as we possibly can’ and create big plays, and that’s how you have to approach it.
“So, hopefully they can be more aggressive offensively moving forward and take some shots downfield. But right now, Joe has one read and he’s got to check it down if it’s not there and that’s really the offense that they have set up for him. It’s difficult to play quarterback under those circumstances.”
Now we know Flacco has come out and said he wants the offense to be more aggressive after the bye week, so hopefully the offense can execute with that mindset. But what concerns me is that Joe Flacco, the man that was once the highest paid player in NFL history, is running an offense similar to what rookies do.
Some will think this is just from what Pitta is observing during the games, but he was a main piece for this offense until his third hip injury ended his career. Not to mention, Pitta is undoubtedly Flacco’s best and closest friend, so that means he could be trying to place the blame away from Flacco.
But if the offense has been dumbed down, who was the one to decide it? If it’s been going on for awhile, you cannot blame the offensive coordinators since there is a new one every year. Is it Harbaugh’s play-style, or could it be that Flacco never progressed enough to have more than one read.
I personally believe that it’s a little bit of both. As much as I love both Harbaugh and Flacco, I can see Harbaugh using a more conservative style on offense at first, since it was his first big time coaching gig, and once he saw it win a Super Bowl, he kept it. For Flacco, I think he just got too used to having great, young safety valves in Pitta and running back Ray Rice so much that he never learned how to make multiple reads.
No matter the issue, this offense needs to step up as soon as possible if they want to secure a wildcard spot. Luckily they have one of the easier schedules among the teams fighting for a wildcard. The Ravens play three backup quarterbacks, (Packers, Texans, and Colts), the Browns, Bengals, Steelers, and Lions.
I encourage everyone to listen to the interview, as it gives a player’s insight on all the struggles.