Flacco is clearly a much better quarterback than people give him credit for. He’s a winner (48-32 career record). He makes big plays when they need to be made and makes the little plays when they need to be made, too. His quarterback rating sits in the high 80’s for his career and at 91.2 the last two seasons combined. I can’t pin playoff losses solely on him. This is a team-oriented game. The rest of the offense has to play its part. The offensive line has to give him time to read the field. The wide receivers must be able to get open down the field. Part of the problem in 2009 and 2010 was that the wide receivers couldn’t get open. There was no separation and nobody who ran routes more than 10 yards. This makes for an easy defensive scheme.
The addition of Torrey Smith should do a lot to help out, as he will undoubtedly run deeper routes. Anquan Boldin played very well last year, but was clearly frustrated by the end of the season. It’s hard to blame him. He’s one of the best underneath and intermediate receivers in the game, but that only works with a guy who goes deep. The Ravens have that now.
The running back situation is a little cloudy at the moment as the lockout hasn’t let the dust settle, but Ray Rice will be back. It’s unclear whether Le’ron McClain or Willis McGahee will be back, but Rice is the feature back and will get the bulk of the snaps. I think the team would rather go with a more traditional fullback than McClain (especially if McClain costs a lot as an unrestricted free agent) but this remains to be seen. Rice got away from dashing through the holes and did a lot of dancing last year. However, he still had a very good year and will look to get into space more often this season.
I think the Ravens offense is really ready to take it to the next step. Everyone is now more comfortable and the coaches are now moving as one, too. If they want to beat the Steelers and Patriots consistently, they will have to score more and take the ball down the field more to change field position. They also will have to be more aggressive in the latter stages of football games. Unaggressive play cost them two or three ball games in 2010.
One thing is for sure—I can’t wait until September to see this thing unfold.