We saw too little of what the Ravens were doing during offseason workouts to draw any conclusions about how new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell will tweak the offense. We will get a much better idea of that in a couple of weeks when training camp begins. But I’m guessing we could see more single-back formations.
For one, the Ravens released All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach, the NFL’s best blocking back, and replaced him with fourth-round pick Kyle Juszczyk, who was more of a receiving threat in college than a blocker. But Leach was already getting phased out of the offense last season, playing just 22 offensive snaps in the Super Bowl.
Plus, the Indianapolis Colts often used single-back sets when Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach and during the three years he was their head coach. But was that Caldwell’s call, quarterback Peyton Manning’s or both?
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And I wrote in May that the Ravens may use more two-TE sets to overcome the loss of Anquan Boldin. If that’s the case, it means the fullback will often be parked on the sideline.
Last season, which started with Cam Cameron calling the plays and ended with Caldwell assuming those duties, only four teams ran the ball out of single-back sets less frequently than the Ravens, who used multiple backs on a whopping 64 percent of their running plays, according to Football Outsiders.
And based on Football Outsiders' signature DVOA metric, which you can read more about here, the Ravens actually fared better running the ball out of single-back sets than when Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce followed Leach into the hole. They had an 8.7 percent DVOA on single-back running plays, which ranked fifth in the NFL. Their DVOA on two-back running plays was 5.5 percent, which also ranked fifth but was less efficient.
Rice has ran behind a big fullback for much of his career and was vocal about his fondness for Leach, but those numbers suggest he will be just fine without a fullback in front of him.
We will find out shortly if Caldwell feels the same way.