The addition of wide receivers Lee Evans and Torrey Smith presented quarterback Joe Flacco with two more weapons, and was supposed to make the Ravens more dynamic on offense. But after two weeks and one discouraging loss, the Ravens are already facing familiar questions about their downfield passing attack.
In a disappointing 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Flacco threw for 197 yards and a touchdown, but he never got much going down the field. Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans combined for five catches and 91 yards and Smith, the former University of Maryland standout, remained without a catch in his rookie season.
"We have to get everybody involved early, especially those guys that are going to be our playmakers," Flacco said. "When they get involved in the game, the flow gets going. You put a defense on their heels a little bit and those guys really feel like they can get themselves going like that. We were just never really able to do that."
The Ravens' passing output was magnified even more because Titans veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck went 30-for-42 for 358 yards and a touchdown. Tennessee wide receivers Kenny Britt and Nate Washington combined for 16 catches for 234 yards and a score.
Meanwhile, of Boldin and Evans' five combined catches, three of them came on back-to-back drives spanning the third and fourth quarters. Other than that, the Titans defense, led by cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Jason McCourty, helped control the game.
"You got to give them credit," said Evans who was shut out in Week One in the Ravens' 35-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was held to two catches for 45 yards today. "They came out with a good plan and they were able to get around Joe a little bit to disrupt our passing game. We just didn't play that well. We didn't execute well. You couple those things together and you don't have the type of offensive day that you came in thinking you were going to have."
There were no complaints about the Ravens' passing attack when Flacco threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the season-opening blowout of the Steelers. But of his 17 completions, only four of them — all to Boldin — were caught by wide receivers. Instead, young tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined to make seven catches, and running back Ray Rice hauled in four balls.
That trend mostly continued today with 10 of Flacco's 15 completions going to running backs or tight ends. That means in two weeks, Ravens wide receivers have caught just nine balls and seven of them are by Boldin.
"Obviously, that's important," said Evans when asked about the wide receivers getting more involved. "But more than anything, it's about developing some type of rhythm offensively overall. Whether its receivers making plays, tight ends making plays, running backs, whoever it might be. I think that's the key. Today we just didn't. We never got in a good rhythm offensively and this is what happens."
As he spoke to reporters, Evans had his left ankle in a bucket of ice. The former Buffalo Bills standout has missed some practice time with ankle issues. He also was on the sidelines for a couple of stretches in today's game as Smith and David Reed got snaps.
Several players cited the wide receiving group's relative inexperience with Flacco and the offense as reasons not to fret. Smith, Laquan Williams and Tandon Doss, who has been inactive the first two weeks, are rookies. Reed is in his second year, but he still doesn't have an NFL catch. Evans was acquired from the Bills a little more than a month ago, while Boldin is in his second season with the team.
Dickson and Pitta, who have shown the ability to get down the field, are also second-year players who didn't have major roles in the passing game last year.
"Anquan has been here for two years now. Lee has only been here for one. It's just one game at a time, building that chemistry with Joe," said Dickson who caught two balls Sunday for 25 yards. "We've seen a glimpse of how we can look in Week One. If we maintain that, do that every week, we're going to be dangerous."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun