The Baltimore Ravens offense was historic this season. No, literally. It broke records. Look it up.
But something happened in the playoff loss to the Titans, and it resulted in a quiet exit from this year’s tournament. The Ravens put up 530 yards of offense, and only scored 12 points — mostly due to three turnovers from MVP-favorite quarterback Lamar Jackson and two failed fourth-down conversions. In golf, they like to say that you drive for show and putt for dough. In that playoff loss to the Titans, the Ravens drove the ball well but four-putted nearly every hole.
The idea of a big, “X” receiver who can catch contested balls along the boundaries and reel in end-zone fades is certainly appealing, as is an earth-mover or two on the interior line who can help the Ravens stick to their run game even when opposing defenses bunch up the line. I’d happily take either or both, or six of each.
But I’m also a fan of Miles Boykin developing into that big, fast physical receiver on the outside (or at least giving him another season to see). With Boykin, Willie Snead and Brown, the Ravens have three receivers they can utilize along with the tight ends to be proficient on offense.
So, here’s my offensive zig: Accumulate more speed guys and make defenses go crazy trying to chase around a stable of fast receivers with a lightning-fast quarterback running multiple forms of options while Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards throw straight power and attitude up the gut running behind Patrick Ricard. Oh, and just for laughs, let’s bring in Justice Hill to cause defensive coordinators to make very definitive decisions as to what package he would like to put out there on any given play.
Go fast and light? Eat some Nick Boyle and Ingram for lunch. Bunch up with a big front? Good luck chasing Brown and Boykin and another lightning-fast receiver downfield, while Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst jump the seams and Hill leaks out into the flat. The NFL is a matchup league, and the Ravens can offer matchup nightmares.
To win in the playoffs, teams must be able to win a multitude of ways. Think back to last year, for instance, when the New England Patriots topped Kansas City 37-31 in the AFC Championship, and then beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in the Super Bowl — in a game many people projected to be an offensive show.
The Ravens are close to building a team that can win any kind of game, at any time. They just need to keep zigging while others are zagging.