3 & Out: Taylor, PItta could spark Ravens offense
1. Tyrod Taylor needs to get snaps every week.
Taylor’s speed is a dimension the Ravens need, and gives opponents something else to worry about. I’m not saying Taylor needs 10 to 15 snaps a game. But he deserves at least three to five snaps, considering how much the Ravens’ running game has struggled. As a quarterback, Taylor is a threat both running and throwing. Taylor ran for 17 yards the first time he touched it, and also converted a third-and-two for a three-yard run. His only pass attempt should have been caught, but was dropped by tight end Ed Dickson. Giving Taylor more snaps may not thrill Joe Flacco, who wasn’t crazy about lining up as a wide receiver Sunday. “I want to line up behind center,” Flacco said. “Fun for a little bit, but that’s it.” However, the Ravens need some semblance of a running game, and Taylor can help. There is room for him to have a role, and for Flacco to still play well.
2. Of the six AFC teams tied at 5-6, the teams with the best quarterbacks have the edge.
That means the Ravens with Joe Flacco, the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger, and the Chargers with Philip Rivers have the best chance to clinch a playoff berth. I don't trust the Titans with Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill, and the Jets with Geno Smith. Tannehill may be a top quarterback one day, but he's not quite there yet. Fitzpatrick had his chance to be a franchise quarterback with Buffalo, but couldn't handle it. And the Jets with Smith? He's playing so poorly, he may not even be a starter much longer.
Roethlisberger and Flacco both have Super Bowl rings, and Rivers is back to playing like one of the NFL's top quarterbacks. I think one of those three quarterbacks will make enough plays to get his team into the postseason.
3. The return of tight end Dennis Pitta could be a big deal
After returning to practice last week, Pitta clearly intends to return soon from hip surgery. When he does, his presence will make the Ravens' offense more multidimensional. Pitta is a tight end with the versatility to be effective either from the slot, or lining up next to the tackle. No Ravens receiver has better chemistry with Flacco. Pitta doesn't have to play 50 snaps when he returns. But he can be a threat in clutch situations, and if the Ravens are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, Pitta might be healthy enough to play his best football by then.
Extra point: The Ravens have allowed just one rushing TD all season, fewest it in the NFL. That is a major reason why their red zone defense is so good. When Ravens opponents get near the goal line, they often become one dimensional. Running the ball near the goal line against the Ravens has largely been a waste of time.