Searching for consistency at third receiver spot

Searching for consistency at third receiver spot
February 20, 2013, 10:45 am
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With the Ravens winning the second Super Bowl in franchise history earlier this month, it seems odd to suggest areas they have many areas to improve for 2013. They got hot at the right time -- much like the New York Giants before them when they won the championship the year before -- but still have glaring weaknesses that must be tweaked to have a chance at making the playoffs again. Repeating? That’s another issue.

Problem No. 3: Third receiver.

After Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, the Ravens lacked a consistent threat until Jacoby Jones’ emergence in the playoffs when he had two TD catches.

In the regular season, Jones had 30 catches for 406 yards and only one TD. Through the season’s first 11 weeks, he had just 17 grabs.

Jones’ greatest value came as a kick and punt returner, where he became a Pro Bowl selection for the first time with three TDs.

Though the former track star has blinding speed, Jones isn't noted for his route-running ability. Quarterback Joe Flacco struggled to find that third receiver when one of his primary targets had trouble getting open or was locked down because of a double-team.

Tandon Doss never grew into that role. In fact, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell made an effort to integrate him into the offense to no avail.

In a 24-9 win vs. the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card game, Doss dropped three passes. He appeared in 14 games for the Ravens and only had seven catches for 123 yards and 1 TD that came in a blowout loss to the Houston Texans. 

If the Ravens were to cut Boldin, who is due $6 million, that would create an even bigger hole for an offense that appears to have found its identity. Fortunately for Flacco, he has tight end Dennis Pitta to alleviate some of the concern. He had career highs of 61 catches for 669 yards and 7 TDs.

David Reed, LaQuan Williams and Deonte Thompson didn't factor into the receiver rotation.

Jones’ speed combined with Flacco's arm strength resulted in the Ravens’ biggest play of season when he got behind the secondary of the Denver Broncos and caught a 70-yard TD pass to force overtime in a divisional playoff game.

Jones also had a 56-yard TD in the Super Bowl, a 34-31 win vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Provided he can continue that success starting with Week 1 for the 2013 season, problem solved.