Oct 26, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu (right) breaks up a pass intended for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Givens in the second quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
When NFL players switch teams, coaches, coordinators, or playbooks, there is always a bit of a learning curve. Particularly for younger guys who have only played for one team, or even in one system, their entire career. It can take a lot of time for players to become comfortable with these changes.
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For a wide receiver and a quarterback, these changes go a little deeper. Both have to learn how to trust each other and develop a chemistry, one that enables them to know what each other is doing without even communicating verbally.
Newly acquired Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Givens has been going through those exact growing pains after toiling in St. Louis his entire career. There were growing pains at first, but things appeared to be improving greatly in week 8.
Givens posted his best game in a Ravens uniform so far against the Chargers, grabbing 3 of 4 targets for 57 yards, the highlight of which came on a 39 yard gain against cornerback Brandon Flowers. This coming one week after Givens caught a 31 yards pass against the Cardinals. He would have also had a 34 yard grab had he not been underthrown by Joe Flacco.
Givens is now up to 7 receptions for 113 yards (16.1 avg) as a Raven after averaging just under 16 yards per catch in his career. A big play threat waiting to happen, Givens might just be the guy who can fill the void left by the departure of Torrey Smith and the continued absence of Breshad Perriman.
The growing chemistry between Flacco and Givens has been apparent to the Ravens’ coaching staff as well.
"“He’s starting to feel it a little bit,” John Harbaugh said. “He and Joe [Flacco] are starting to develop something, an understanding for one another.”"
Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman pointed to a back shoulder throw Flacco made to Givens on the last drive against the Chargers as a sign that the veteran quarterback is beginning to trust Givens more in key situations.
"“That was a very good sign for us that Joe felt comfortable choosing him to throw a go-route to the right side of the field and then the back-shoulder throw on the go-route. That’s a good sign, and we’re optimistic that we can use that as a platform in the second half of the season.”"
With his production and usage increasing every game over the last three weeks, Chris Givens is well on his way to becoming a difference maker on an offense that desperately needs one. Even if Givens never becomes a target hog or a high volume guy, it’s clear that he has a knack for making plays when the Ravens need them.