Baltimore Ravens’ First Quarter Offensive Grades
Grading the Baltimore Ravens’ offense after a quarter of the season:
Joe Flacco has been one of the most consistent players for the Ravens thus far. His 1,269 passing yards are tops in the AFC. His passer rating of 95.8 is good for sixth in the AFC. He is also ranked first in the NFL in passing plays of 20 or more yards, as his 23 plays of that variety are eight more than anyone else in the AFC.
Flacco played his best two games against playoff teams, as the Ravens defeated the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals. Flacco has seven touchdown and three interceptions, so he can improve on that ratio as well. His three interceptions were all his fault forcing passes in tight areas that he had no business throwing . However, those are only a couple of bad throws in an otherwise solid season. If his discretion improves, there is no reason why Flacco can’t become an elite quarterback.
Running Backs: B
Ray Rice hasn’t been in the forefront of the Ravens’ offense like most people thought he would. Both the emergence of Flacco and the stubbornness of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron are factors in Rice’s somewhat diminished role as a rusher. Rice is 15th in the NFL with 64 carries, 39 behind the league leader Arian Foster. Rice has a beastly five yards-per-carry, but is on pace for the lowest amount of carries since his rookie season.Conversely, Rice is on pace to set a career high in receptions in Cameron’s pass-happy offense.
Rookie Bernard Pierce had been quiet in spot duty until his big game against the Cleveland Browns last week. Pierce got a season-high six carries and ripped off 48 yards. He may see a decent amount of carries moving forward if he can keep up his robust 5.2 yards-per-carry.
Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach has been his usual solid self lead-blocking for Rice and Pierce. Leach also has a five-yard rushing touchdown on his only carry of the year. Overall the running backs have been a top-tier unit. If they get more attempts moving forward it could be tops in the AFC, at least in regards to yards-per-carry.
Wide Receivers: B
It’s been up and down for the wide receiving corp, but it appears consistency could be around the corner. Torrey Smith had a quiet first two games, but erupted in the last two. His 224 yards and three touchdowns came in a five-day span after his younger brother died abruptly.
If Smith can continue to become a big play receiver but also evolve into more than just that, he can be a top tier receiver. Smith is sixth in the AFC in yards-per-game, and his 20.8 yards-per-catch are second in the AFC for pass catchers with at least 10 catches.
Anquan Boldin has been inconsistent as well, but he had a monster game against the Cleveland Browns and appears to still be a viable possession receiver for Flacco.
Jacoby Jones has shown big play potential, but has done little in terms of consistency. If this unit can be consistent they will put up big numbers, as Cameron loves to air it out.
Tight Ends: B+
Dennis Pitta is probably the most pleasant surprise for the Ravens’ offense, as he was listed second on the depth chart coming into the season. He is fifth for receiving yards by a tight end in the AFC with 188, ranks third in receptions, and first in targets for AFC tight ends. He has become Flacco’s security blanket and is on pace for a breakout campaign.
Ed Dickson meanwhile has been basically invisible as he has a mere five catches. Pitta has taken a firm grasp on the tight end job so it remains to be seen how Dickson bounces back.
Offensive Line: A-
The line was shuffled minutes before the opening game of the season, as veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie was benched. Michael Oher shifted over to left tackle, while rookie Kelechi Osemele replaced Oher at right tackle.
Another surprise was Ramon Harewood starting at right guard, while veterans Matt Birk and Marshal Yanda anchor the line at center and right guard respectively.
The unit has been solid in pass protection as the Ravens boast the top passing offense in the AFC and are fourth in sacks allowed. Pair that with a robust 4.7 yards-per-carry from the running backs, and the offensive line appears to already be a cohesive unit.