Ravens' revamped offense faces stern test
September, 11, 2010
By James Walker | ESPN.com
Stew Milne/US PresswireJoe Flacco has Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice as well as several dangerous receivers to throw to this season.With seven skill players with at least one Pro Bowl on their résumés, the Baltimore Ravens have plenty of star power on offense.
The Ravens must mesh all that talent quickly as they debut their new-look offense against the stingy New York Jets on "Monday Night Football" (ESPN, 7 p.m.). Baltimore, usually a defensive-oriented team, enters the 2010 season with high expectations on offense.
Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron recently told the AFC North blog that he thinks Baltimore can be a top-5 scoring offense, something the team has never accomplished in its 14-year history. The Ravens tried for the past decade to win championships with defense. They were successful in 2000 but have fallen short in every attempt since. That's why Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome spent the past few offseasons loading up on offense.
"I think [head coach] John Harbaugh has it [right], and it fits 2010: Teams win championships," Cameron said in his news conference this week. "You've got to score points on offense, you've got to take care of the ball on offense, and you've got to not put your defense in a difficult position to win championships."
On paper, this is the most talented offense the Ravens have put together. Third-year quarterback Joe Flacco has an array of weapons to throw to in wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and tight ends Todd Heap and rookie Ed Dickson. Baltimore also has one of the NFL's deepest groups of running backs with Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain. The additions on offense and a consistently dominant defense are why many people view Baltimore as a legit Super Bowl contender.
AP Photo/Rob CarrCam Cameron believes the Ravens have the potential to be a top-5 offense.
Last year the Ravens relied heavily on Rice, who led the team in rushing yards and receptions on the way to his first Pro Bowl. But with so much talent in Baltimore this year, Rice is expected to share the production.
"Right now, we're a complete offense, and we're just looking forward to executing," Rice said. "Whether that's me getting less catches, then all right, that's fine. I'd rather take less yards, less catches, less stats and we're winning games, rather than have the stats and we fall short."
Baltimore will find out how good its offense is right away against the Jets, who only allowed 252.3 yards and 14.8 points per game last season and ranked No. 1 overall defensively. The Ravens will get the Jets' defense at full strength now that Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis recently signed a $46 million extension, ending a 36-day holdout.
"There's a reason they paid him so much money; he's worth it," Harbaugh said. "So it puts them at their very best, but we expected it. We didn't think for one second he wasn’t going to be there."