The Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles don’t have an embarrassment of offensive riches. Their roster isn’t overflowing with elite offensive playmakers at least compared with teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. What the Eagles do have is an aggressive and creative play caller in Doug Pederson, one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and a diverse group of offensive weapons. The last factor of the three is what the Ravens should try to emulate this offseason.
The Eagles’ mix at running back includes the bruising pair of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi and the quicker Corey Clement, who showed Sunday that he is a threat out of the backfield. At wide receiver, the physical Alshon Jeffery makes contested catches all over the field while Nelson Agholor works out of the slot and Torrey Smith is an established deep threat. Zach Ertz is one of the best receiving tight ends in football, while Brent Celek is known for his blocking. The offensive pieces fit so well.
Meanwhile, the Ravens, who didn’t have a healthy Danny Woodhead for a significant chunk of the season, have similar-style backs in Alex Collins, Terrance West and Buck Allen. They don’t have a receiver who wins on jump balls and consistently makes contested catches or even who consistently wins matchups underneath. Tight end Benjamin Watson, 37, had a solid year, but he no longer has the speed and explosiveness to stretch the field. The rest of the Ravens tight ends are mostly blockers.
Rightfully so, Ravens fans are desperate for the team to add dynamic playmakers on offense. That has to be the goal, but team officials also need to do a better job of diversifying the types of players the Ravens have at the offensive skill positions. The Ravens need more offensive talent. They also need more offensive variety.
They’re not alone
Consider this your weekly reminder of the challenges the Ravens will face this offseason in trying to add quality receiving options.
Rotoworld’s senior football editor, Evan Silva, does a nice job in his annual offseason look at each NFL team’s primary need. In this year’s version, he listed 10 teams who count wide receiver as one of their top three needs.
As we’ve discussed, the free-agent wide receiver market is very poor, and the wide receiver draft class supposedly has some nice depth but not a lot of high-end options. The Ravens will have to be ultra-aggressive this offseason in getting Joe Flacco some help on the outside.
Ten quick thoughts
1) Kudos to team owner Steve Bisciotti for continuing to have a postseason question-and-answer session with reporters. You can count on one hand the number of NFL owners who speak to reporters after the season. Some do it only if they have a head coach or general manager hiring or firing to announce. Many don’t do it at all.
2) His suggestion that media members want mass firings doesn’t quite jibe, though. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I’ve yet to read one mainstream media member call for coach John Harbaugh or general manager Ozzie Newsome to be ousted.
3) Bisciotti downplayed the urgency to start preparing for life after Flacco, and the last thing you’d want is the rest of the NFL to know you’re hunting for a franchise quarterback. I’d have to think, though, the eventual succession plan for Flacco is never far from the minds of the team’s top decision-makers. With the importance of the position and Flacco’s struggles, it has to be.
4) Bisciotti spoke of adding a few senior-level scouts going forward, but the Ravens will probably have to wait in most cases. Scouts typically are under contract through the draft because teams don’t want them giving away any secrets.
5) ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s latest mock has the Ravens selecting Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea with the 16th overall pick. It’s impossible to project what teams will do before the scouting combine, pro days and various team workouts, but that selection would be surprising given Bisciotti’s comment Friday. “I think there’s a really good chance we won’t be drafting a defensive tackle in the first round,” Bisciotti said.
6) The two missed extra-point attempts in the first half of the Super Bowl is the latest reminder of how lucky the Ravens are to have Justin Tucker. Counting the postseason, Tucker is 213-for-213 on extra-point tries. That is a credit to not only him, but also long snapper Morgan Cox and holder Sam Koch. All it takes is a bad snap, a bobble or a misstep from Tucker for there to be a miss.
7) A few teams have already started releasing players, but the Ravens aren’t traditionally fast out of the gate when it comes to making cost-cutting moves. Last year, they did most of their work in the first full week in March.
8) Why people get so worked up about back-end roster moves in February — for example, the signing of wide receiver DeVier Posey — is beyond me. It’s like trashing a minor league signing in baseball. There’s no risk whatsoever. The Ravens have 90 spots on the roster. Posey is hardly a lock to make the regular-season roster or even to be on the team when training camp begins. He’ll be one of several receivers added to the roster between now and the start of training camp.
9) Bisciotti downplayed the team’s potential salary cap problems this offseason while also acknowledging that the Ravens will probably have to restructure a few contracts, including defensive tackle Brandon Williams’ deal, which isn’t even a year old. Obviously, the annual restructures are a last resort and cut into the team’s salary cap flexibility going forward, so it’s not an ideal scenario.
Latest Baltimore Ravens
10) The Eagles are expected to be right up against the salary cap this offseason, prompting some speculation in Philadelphia that former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith is in jeopardy. Cutting Smith would save the Eagles $5 million of space and result in no dead money on their salary cap. Regardless of what happens going forward, you have to feel good that Smith, one of the NFL’s good guys, gets another Super Bowl ring.