The defending champs are not even into August and devastation has struck at the Castle in Owings Mills. Reports broke Saturday that Joe Flacco’s most trusted target, Dennis Pitta, had gone down with a hip injury. Shortly there-after it was announced that Pitta would be going under the knife for season ending hip surgery.
If replacing 921 yards, 65 receptions, and 4 touchdowns from Anquan Boldin already didn’t seem like it would be tough enough, it just got worse. The Anquan trade was hard to swallow because of his toughness, leadership, and his sticky hands but you could accept it understanding that his contract exceeded his statistics.
Replacing Joe’s safety blanket on the other hand is something that Coach Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were not ready to deal with. 61 catches for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns isn’t Jimmy Graham or Gronk-like but if you watched this team throughout the regular season you knew that Joe found a certain amount of comfort in knowing that he could find Pitta over the middle for a quick 10-15 yards. Not to mention the 73% completion rate between the two during the playoffs.
Part of the reason this seems so big is because we all remember Dennis Pitta getting annihilated by Jerrod Mayo over the middle in New England, only to get up and pick his head up off the field to connect with Joe for the 5 yard touchdown pass that gave the Ravens the 3rd quarter lead. Showing that Baltimore toughness that we all have a soft spot for.
Visanthe Shiancoe is the immediate answer from Ozzie, but that brings the obvious question, how much does the 33 year old from Morgan State have left in the tank? He had some solid years in Minnesota, nothing spectacular for sure. He is credited with 4 games in New England last year where he caught 0 passes for 0 yards which doesn’t exactly scream safety-net. His career year was 556 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2009 but that was 3 years ago.
The easy answer is Ed Dickson will step up. I don’t think this is too far from the realm of possibilities with his 2011 season, 50+ receptions for 528 yards and 5 touchdowns. Granted he fell off in 2012, he was also struggling with consistency which is the last thing that our 100 Million Dollar Man needs while trying to prove his contract worth.
The free agent market for tight ends is absolutely abysmal. Dallas Clark and Todd Heap are the only names worth mentioning but they don’t exactly match the youth movement that Ravens are going for. Wide receiver is pretty weak as well, considering the time of year, that’s a given.
The chance for a repeat just undoubtedly took a huge hit, then again we thought the same thing last year when Webby hit the ground with a torn ACL.
We all saw how that played out.
The only positive that comes out of this injury is the fact that it happened this early in training camp so that the Jim’s have time to game plan for the loss of Dennis Pitta.