Today, “Football Numbers” examines the stats behind the Baltimore Ravens offseason and what they need to do going forward. “Football Numbers” examines the compelling numbers in the NFL. Follow the column on Twitter @nflnumbers
Joe Flacco’s 2014 cap hit, with 2014 being the second year of the most lucrative deal in NFL history. To say that the Ravens overpaid would be an understatement. Flacco’s 2013 season was average at best: he completed 59.0% of his passes, threw for 3,912 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions. The Ravens paid Flacco for his outstanding postseason during their Super Bowl run, but he wasn’t able to lead them back to the playoffs after cashing in. Baltimore would be wise to try restructuring Flacco’s deal this offseason, as it would give them some much needed funds. If it came to a negotiating standoff, the Ravens can use Flacco’s dismal 2013 season as leverage.
Number of total rushing yards produced by Ravens running backs in 2013, good for 30th in the league. Ray Rice had his worst season as a pro; in 15 games, he rushed for 660 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry (career low), and four touchdowns (career low). However, Rice doesn’t deserve all the blame. Bernard Pierce, who many believe could be a featured back on another team, averaged an awful 2.9 yards per carry, and had only two touchdowns. The good news is that the free agent running back pool is growing by the day. Michael Bush and Darren Sproles are the latest editions to a market that includes stars such as Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, and bargains like Anthony Dixon and James Starks.
Number of players who had more receptions in 2013 than Torrey Smith, the Ravens’ leading receiver. The lack of a dependable target hindered the Ravens’ offense all season, showing that the void left by Anquan Boldin has not been filled. Smith is a talented receiver, but he is more of a deep threat. If the Ravens acquire a possession guy this offseason, it would allow Smith to focus on stretching the field, bringing more balance to the Baltimore offense as a whole. Julian Edelman would be a real prize, but the chances of nabbing him from New England are low. It might be a good idea to draft a sure-handed, shifty receiver—BYU’s Cody Hoffman comes to mind.
The Ravens’ third-down percentage in 2013, ranking 30th in the league. Without a strong running game, the Ravens were forced to pass a lot on third down, which worked to opponents’ advantage because—well, you get the point by now. In addition patching up the receiving corps and backfield, Baltimore must resign tight end Ed Dickson. Dickson is a nice complement to starter Dennis Pitta, who the Ravens recently inked to a five-year deal. Maintaining one of the best tight end duos in the game is a must if the Ravens want to improve this lousy third down performance.
Kickoff return average of free agent Jacoby Jones, the fourth-best figure in the league last season. When Jones has the ball in his hands, he is simply one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He was sorely missed for the first month and a half of the regular season after getting injured in the Ravens’ opener. Baltimore would be in a tough spot in the return game if they aren’t able to retain Jones. They would most likely give the opportunity to unproven second-year man Deonte Thompson or former Chief Shaun Draughn.
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