Dennis Pitta was targeted a team-high 15 times in Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and he is now listed ahead of fellow third-year tight end Ed Dickson on the team’s official depth chart. But in that game, Pitta, who got 51 offensive snaps, lined up as a wide receiver or slot receiver more than two-thirds of the time.
Pitta lined up next to an offensive tackle as a traditional tight end on 15 plays and was not targeted once by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on any of the plays as he was often run-blocking on either the left or right edge. He lined up as a wide receiver on four plays, and Flacco threw his way on three of them, including two quick completions while Pitta ran slant routes against a safety. Pitta also lined up in the backfield on one play.
But usually, Pitta was lined up in the slot, where he did most of his damage in a game where he led the team with eight catches and with 65 receiving yards. He was targeted eight times on the 16 plays in which he lined up as a slot receiver to Flacco’s left and four times on the 15 plays where he was in the slot to Flacco’s right -- including a third-quarter interception when Flacco tried to squeeze a pass between three Eagles defenders.
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"It was a matter of me going through progressions and him maybe being the guy we're trying to target," Flacco said Wednesday when asked about the connection he has with the tight end. "Or just going through and by the time I get to his point in the progression, he's open. I don't really know what to attribute that to."
Meanwhile, Dickson played 40 of the team’s 70 offensive snaps against the Eagles, and was usually lined up as a traditional tight end. Dickson, the better blocker of the two, was blocking on a little over half the plays he was in the game, including sealing the edge on Vonta Leach’s touchdown run. But I wasn’t watching Dickson as closely as I was watching Pitta when I took a second look at the game Wednesday morning, so I can’t give you an exact number.
Dickson was targeted four times and had one catch for 23 yards.
On Tuesday, while chatting with Boston media about the Ravens offense, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who loves tight ends as much as anyone, twice reminded reporters that they shouldn’t forget about Pitta and Dickson, saying that those two are “very good down the field.” And Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said that Pitta is “definitely” someone they will have to contend with during Sunday night’s game in Baltimore.
To do that, they must first figure out where Pitta has lined up.