The Ravens dig the deep ball. That will not change in 2013.
They have a quarterback in Joe Flacco who throws deep as well as anyone. They have two receivers in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones with high-end speed and proven playmaking ability.
That gives the Ravens an edge that some teams don’t have – an offense that can strike downfield at anytime. It makes defenses think twice about leaving their corners in single coverage. It forces safeties to play a tad deeper, creating more space for receivers underneath, and more running room for Ray Rice to turn short passes into long gains.
Certainly, the Ravens must figure out how to replace Anquan Boldin’s dependability. But throwing deep? That is an area where the Ravens still expect to excel.
"We have a couple of guys that can really stretch the field," said Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell at OTA’s last week. "Often times you may find guys that can stretch the field, but guys can’t get it to them consistently. Joe can. You have to be making certain that your defense has a top on it, for lack of a better term – make certain that they are deep enough, because of the fact that Torrey and Jacoby and Deonte (Thompson) and some of those guys can get down and get behind you in a hurry."
Flacco’s 70-yard TD pass to Jones during last season’s playoff game in Denver was perhaps the signature moment of the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. It came with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter, forced overtime, and took the Ravens from the brink of defeat to eventual victory.
Jones still remembers the sweet feeling of crossing the goal line in Denver in front of stunned Broncos fans.
"The silence," Jones said. "I thought they threw a flag at first. I was nervous as I was running, because usually at home you hear the crowd go loud, but it got silent."
The Broncos never recovered from that one big play. They eventually went home, and the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl.
During OTAs this week, and into training camp next month, Caldwell will keep exploring different ways to take advantage of the Ravens’ explosiveness. Just one big play can change a game’s momentum. And the Ravens still have the tools to strike quickly.