Tag Archive | "Todd heap"

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 24-16 loss to Minnesota

Posted on 23 October 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens enduring their fourth loss in five games in a 24-16 final in Minnesota, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Resignation might be the Ravens’ biggest opponent at this point. Based on many of the post-game comments, they’re fighting doubts over whether this will improve. Terrell Suggs sounded as despondent as I’ve ever heard him and summed it up by saying, “Right now, we stink.” Indeed.

2. When Griff Whalen comes off the street to play 58 snaps, how do you expect anything different from this offense? Injuries don’t forgive the poor organizational approach, but “next man up” is merely a nice T-shirt slogan when an offense built to be average at best suffers this many.

3. Amazingly, seven NFL teams failed to score an offensive touchdown on Sunday as the Ravens avoided being the eighth with Chris Moore catching a touchdown as time expired. Since scoring five offensive touchdowns over the first two weeks, the offense has five in five games. Just brutal.

4. I didn’t buy Brandon Williams’ absence being the only reason the run defense was faring poorly, and the Ravens allowed over 160 rushing yards in his return. The defense isn’t getting any help from the offense, but too many resources have been used on this unit to be so underwhelming.

5. Mike Wallace didn’t always have the best reputation on some of his previous NFL stops, but I admire his strong desire to go back in the game after being concussed. And I’m glad he wasn’t allowed to.

6. How ironic it is that a litany of injuries at wide receiver left Michael Campanaro as the No. 1 guy still standing. He’s already set a career high for games played in a season, and I’m glad to see him stay on the field for an extended stretch.

7. After years of being the Achilles heel of the defense, cornerback has been its biggest strength as Brandon Carr has been a quality acquisition and grabbed his third interception of the season. It’s a shame to see the drop-off elsewhere.

8. Which was the more embarrassing moment for the offense Sunday: Buck Allen needing to line up at wide receiver or Joe Flacco tripping over his own two feet in the pocket? It’s a shame Todd Heap couldn’t come down from the radio broadcast booth to catch some passes.

9. Jaylen Hill performed well in his first NFL action, registering a tackle and a pass breakup in nine defensive snaps. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him emerge as the nickel corner sooner than later.

10. How many times have you heard game broadcasters note the lack of urgency in Baltimore’s two-minute offense over the last couple years? It’s more like a two-hour offense too many times.

11. I’ve chuckled seeing some ask whether this offense is worse than the 2000 one. The answer is a resounding yes, and it’s not close. That group had the league’s fifth-ranked running game and a much better offensive line. This year’s offense might be the worst in team history.

12. I suppose it depends how the Ravens fare against Miami Thursday, but I don’t know how John Harbaugh doesn’t at least consider making some significant change with the extra break looming and the bye soon after that. How do you maintain the status quo with things trending this poorly?

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Heap family asks people to honor daughter’s memory this week

Posted on 02 May 2017 by Luke Jones

Holly Heap would have celebrated her fourth birthday on Wednesday.

That’s why the family of former Ravens tight end Todd Heap is asking people to honor his daughter’s memory this week. The family has started the website HugsFromHolly.com requesting people to wear pink, to spread love and joy through random acts of kindness, and to post pictures of those acts using the hashtag #HugsFromHollyDay on Wednesday.

“Holly was known to give the best hugs, and her love for everyone and everything in life was contagious,” the website reads. “Let’s spread this joy as we scatter sunshine in Holly’s honor on her birthday.”

Current and former members of the Ravens organization have used social media to share the website, which includes a link to donate to the Baltimore Community Fund in Holly’s memory.

Holly was tragically killed on April 14 when her father accidentally struck her with his truck in the driveway of the family’s home in suburban Phoenix.

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Ravens set to induct former tight end Todd Heap into Ring of Honor

Posted on 13 May 2014 by Luke Jones

Retired tight end Todd Heap will become the eighth former Ravens player inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor this fall, the team announced Tuesday.

The 2001 first-round pick spent 10 years in Baltimore and is the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions as he made two Pro Bowls despite spending most of his career playing for substandard quarterbacks. Heap amassed 499 catches for 5,869 yards and 42 touchdowns in his career, which included a two-year stop with the Arizona Cardinals to conclude his playing days.

In addition to his 41 touchdown catches with Baltimore ranking first in team history, Heap is second on the franchise’s all-time list for both receptions and receiving yards behind former wide receiver Derrick Mason. Though one of the franchise’s longtime fan favorites not to win a Super Bowl, Heap was a critical member of six playoff teams in his 10-year run with the Ravens.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Heap told the team’s official website. “There are a lot of special players in Ravens history. It’s going to be cool to be listed among them. You never know how deserving it is, but I was pumped and I think it’s going to be cool for years to come.”

Heap joins former enshrined teammates Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Jonathan Ogden, Matt Stover, Jamal Lewis, and Michael McCrary as well as late owner Art Modell, Johnny Unitas and the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colts, and former Ravens running back Earnest Byner in the Ring of Honor.

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An important #WNSTSweet16 during an important week for the Ravens

Posted on 06 May 2014 by Luke Jones

After taking a look at the rare not-so-great draft moments in the history of the Baltimore Ravens a week ago, this week’s #WNSTSweet16 recognizes an abundance of riches in ranking the most important draft picks in franchise history.

Though recent years have produced more singles and doubles than triples and home runs as they relate to the work of general manager Ozzie Newsome and his talented front office, the Ravens’ immense success over the first 18 years of their existence should be attributed first and foremost to the draft and an ability to recognize talent to fit their vision of a winning franchise. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said last week that luck is a significant factor in finding impact talent year after year, but a simple look at this week’s list shows that 11 of the 16 choices came in the first round, a reflection of just how rarely the Ravens have missed early in the draft.

It’s important to reiterate this week’s list covers the most important — not necessarily the best — draft picks as certain selections came at critical junctures for a franchise that already boasts two Super Bowl championships in its young history. A simple question to ask in determining a draft pick’s importance was, “How critical was this player to winning a championship or at least enjoying an extended run of success?”

Cracking the top five is no easy task as the Ravens already claim one Hall of Fame player selected with their first ever draft pick while two other first-round choices are slam dunks for Canton in the not-so-distant future.

Without further ado, I present the #WNSTSweet16 Most Important Draft Picks in Ravens History:

Continue to next page for No. 16

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Todd Heap tells Nestor he flew back to Baltimore honor Art Modell

Posted on 11 September 2012 by WNSTV

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Ravens receive two compensatory picks in April’s draft

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With NFL owners congregating in Florida for their annual meetings this week, the league awarded 32 compensatory picks for April’s draft on Monday afternoon.

Based on last offseason’s free-agent movement, the Ravens were awarded fourth- and fifth-round compensatory picks, which will be the 130th and 169th overall selections respectively.

While the notable releases of wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, and running back Willis McGahee were not taken into account, the free-agent losses of safety Dawan Landry (Jacksonville), guard Chris Chester (Washington), and cornerback Josh Wilson (Washington) factored into the Ravens receiving compensation in April’s draft after each received high-priced, long-term contracts and started 16 games with new teams.

After general manager Ozzie Newsome traded the Ravens’ fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft to Buffalo for veteran Lee Evans last August, receiving a fourth-round compensatory pick helps to ease the sting of that ill-fated move.

Under the rules of compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive picks. The number of picks a team receives is equal to the net loss of free agents up to a maximum of four. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time, and postseason distinctions. Not every free agent lost or acquired by a club factors into the formula.

This year, the compensatory picks will be positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost.

The Ravens have been awarded 33 compensatory picks over their 17-year history, most in the NFL during that time period. With their two fifth-round compensatory picks in 2011, they selected defensive end Pernell McPhee and cornerback Chykie Brown.

Here are the Ravens’ selections for next month’s draft:

Round 1: No. 29
Round 2: No. 60
Round 3: No. 91
Round 4: No. 130 (compensatory)
Round 5: No. 155
Round 5: No. 169 (compensatory)
Round 6: No. 186
Round 7: No. 218

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With free agency upon us, Ravens will lean on continued growth from within in 2012

Posted on 12 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With the start of the new league year and free agency less than 24 hours away, you can already hear the cries if you listen carefully.

And you know exactly what I’m talking about if you pay attention to talk radio, internet message boards, and Twitter over the opening days of free agency every year.

When are the Ravens going to do something?

Why does Ozzie insist on sitting on his hands?

They’re definitely taking a step back this season.

Never were those exclamations louder than last season, an unprecedented period of free agency that coincided with the start of training camp after the 134-day lockout. General manager Ozzie Newsome waved goodbye to veterans Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, and Willis McGahee in a series of cap-saving cuts, and a number of veterans including Chris Chester, Dawan Landry, and Josh Wilson found richer contracts elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ free-agent additions for 2011 were relatively modest over the course of the preseason, adding fullback Vonta Leach, safety Bernard Pollard, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, center Andre Gurode, and running back Ricky Williams in addition to re-signing right guard Marshal Yanda to a long-term contract. The “offseason” timetable was stunted by the lockout, but Newsome operated in the way he typically does — calculated and conservative. In fact, the most dynamic move he made — trading a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for veteran receiver Lee Evans — turned out to be the biggest failure.

The history lesson is worth repeating as the Ravens embark on free agency for the 17th time in franchise history. Projected to have approximately $14.45 million in salary cap space (before tendering restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents), Newsome will devote much of that to retaining as many of his own free agents as he can.

Of Baltimore’s 12 unrestricted free agents, five were starters last season, meaning the Ravens could be looking at more significant roster turnover than you’d like from an AFC North championship team that was one touchdown catch from advancing to the Super Bowl.

Expecting a dramatic splash of throwing money at elite free agents such as wide receiver Vincent Jackson or outside linebacker Mario Williams is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Even in the years in which he’s had the most cap room, Newsome rarely targets the players grabbing the headlines in the opening days of free agency, instead focusing on keeping his own and laying plans for value free agents that fulfill a need without eating up precious cap room.

As was the case last season, the Ravens will look for continued growth from within to aid in their quest for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Entering the 2011 season, Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson, and Dennis Pitta were well-known draft picks from the previous season but had yet to emerge as starting-caliber players in the NFL. Even bigger question marks surrounded Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams before they became legitimate starting cornerbacks for one of the league’s top defenses. And fighting serious doubts after a poor preseason, wide receiver Torrey Smith set franchise rookie records for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches.

Their contributions were as critical as any free-agent acquisition the Ravens made en route to a 12-4 record and their first division title in five years.

This season, the Ravens will potentially look to younger players such as defensive ends Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, offensive lineman Jah Reid, and linebackers Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, and Albert McClellan to help fill potential voids left behind by free agents Cory Redding, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Jarret Johnson, and Jameel McClain. Of course, the Ravens will add new pieces via free agency and next month’s draft to fill some of those needs, but it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll need to lean on some combination of the aforementioned players for expanded roles in 2012.

After tendering their restricted free agents and exclusive rights players, the Ravens will be left with somewhere between $6 million and $7 million to address their own unrestricted free agents and shop the open market. It doesn’t take an economics major to realize that money will only go so far.

But, as he usually does, Newsome will make the most of it.

As the frenzy of free agency begins on Tuesday and the big names start coming off the board — possibly even a few from the Ravens’ own backyard leaving for greener pastures — remember many of the biggest factors determining how the Ravens fare in 2012 already reside in Owings Mills.

It may get ugly, with many of their unrestricted free agents not expected to return, but Newsome and the Ravens never strive to “win” the first week of free agency. They’ll look closely for that under-the-radar talent that nobody is talking about right now. And, as always, the Ravens will plan to shine during April’s draft.

By the time July arrives, they’ll address the offensive line and the linebacker position in some form as well as add a few pieces in other areas to optimize a team that was only a few tenths of a second away from going to the Super Bowl back in January.

Just remember that when you or someone else feels the urge to panic and ask if Newsome is asleep at the wheel over the next week or so.

To borrow an expression from another era and another sport here in Baltimore, it’s “The Raven Way” of doing business.

And if history is any indication, it’s worked pretty well.

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Tuesday Ravens musings for Week 11

Posted on 15 November 2011 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens enjoying a day off before returning to work to prepare for a big AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, here are five thoughts to ponder …

1. Has anyone seen Ed Reed lately? The future Hall of Fame safety started the season with a bang by collecting two interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger in the Ravens’ Week 1 dismantling of the Steelers. A few weeks later, Reed followed it up with a sack and strip of Mark Sanchez on the first defensive play from scrimmage that led to a Baltimore touchdown. The 33-year-old Reed has been quiet ever since, getting burned by Jacoby Jones for a long touchdown in the win over Houston and recording just one pass breakup in the Ravens’ last five games. Reed’s current eight-game span without an interception matches the second-longest of his career (2008) and ranks behind a nine-game stretch in 2005 in which Reed missed six games due to an ankle injury in the middle of that drought. Given Reed’s health issues over the last few seasons — he suffered a shoulder stinger in the loss at Jacksonville last month — some will question whether Father Time is beginning to catch up with the 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year. However, the aforementioned eight-game interception drought in 2008 was followed by a six-week stretch in which Reed intercepted eight passes and scored two defensive touchdowns in arguable the greatest stretch by a defensive player in NFL history. In other words, just because the ball-hawking safety may be lying in the weeds doesn’t mean he won’t be ready to pounce in the final two months of the season.

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2. Joe Flacco has the third-most passing attempts in the entire NFL. The fourth-year quarterback only trails Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford in that category and has thrown more passes than Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and MVP frontrunner Aaron Rodgers. It’s clear the Ravens have handed the keys to the offense to Flacco, even if it means Ray Rice has become less of a factor as a result. The problem is Flacco’s 6.39 yards per attempt ranks 27th in the league in a clear sign the Ravens are not getting the return on the commitment they’re making to the passing game. An inexperienced group of wide receivers and an inconsistent offensive line haven’t helped matters, and the Ravens would much prefer to get back to a more balanced attack if they can get an early lead in games, something they’ve been unable to do in road losses to Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Seattle. If the Ravens are to play deep into January, they need to find more offensive balance and more consistency from Flacco, whose 75.6 quarterback rating would be a career low.

3. Not only have the Ravens struggled to take care of the football, but the defense hasn’t been taking it away from the opponent of late, either. Baltimore played a near-flawless game against the Steelers to open the season, forcing seven turnovers without giving the ball away in return. However, the Ravens have managed to turn the ball over at least once in their eight games since, with six of those games having two or more turnovers. Not surprisingly, the Ravens lost the turnover battle in all three of their losses this season. While the Ravens offense has failed to take care of the football, the defense has not been as opportunistic since their bye on Oct. 9. After forcing 14 turnovers in the first four games of the season, the Baltimore defense has just four takeaways in their last five games. As a result, the Ravens turnover differential that was plus-7 after Week 1 has been minus-6 over the last eight games (plus-1 for the season). If the offense continues to be careless with the football, the Ravens need more takeaways to make up for the miscues.

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Rice, Suggs moving past Monday night controversy

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Rice, Suggs moving past Monday night controversy

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens returning to the practice field to begin preparations for the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday, many were interested to learn if there would be any fallout from an unthinkable 12-7 loss in Jacksonville on Monday night.

Running back Ray Rice received only eight carries and 13 touches as the Ravens were held to just 146 total yards and an embarrassing 16 in the first half. Linebacker Terrell Suggs sparked controversy following the game for questioning offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for not getting the ball in the star running back’s hands more often.

Two days later, Rice made it clear he always wants the ball in order to help the offense, but expressed his desire to move past the disappointing loss.

“I definitely expect to be more involved,” Rice said. “My involvement with this offense hasn’t changed since the beginning of the season. I don’t want Cam and them to feel like they’ve got to force me the ball. I’m not that kind of guy. My carries come when the whole offense has success. I look forward to having that success.”

Suggs has drawn criticism for publicly questioning the coaching staff, but coach John Harbaugh agreed with the Pro Bowl defensive player’s comments when asked about it during his Tuesday press conference. While not backing down from his post-game comments, Suggs clarified his thoughts and shared the universal vision shared by all within the organization.

“There’s no big deal about it,” Suggs said. “We know we’re a great team. Like I said, we’re a great team when those guys are getting the ball. That’s what I meant. We’ve got to take our hats off to Jacksonville. They played a physical game and won the game, but we can’t give them any help. That’s what I meant about it.”

The most common theme expressed by those involved with the offensive side of the football has been execution, an area where Rice simply wants to have a bigger say reflecting in the number of times he’s able to touch the ball.

While the Ravens running back was ready to shift his focus to the Cardinals, he reiterated how important it was to learn from an abysmal experience in Jacksonville.

“We’re not to ignore the fact it happened,” Rice said. “We didn’t execute. It’s the same thing I’ve been talking about all the time. We didn’t execute. It’s us as the whole offense. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m begging for carries. At the same time, I do know when we’re getting first downs I touch the ball. We’ll get that as the week goes.”

‘Flag’ football

Safety Bernard Pollard said he has yet to receive a fine from the NFL for his penalized hit of Jaguars running back Deji Karim on the opening drive of the third quarter, which extended the Jacksonville drive and led to a field goal to make it a 9-0 deficit for the Ravens.

While Pollard made it clear he’s against malicious hits the head and understands the league’s intent to make the sport safer, he shared the same frustration expressed by countless defensive players around the NFL, who are contemplating where exactly they’re allowed to hit an offensive player.

“This is a sport that’s violent, so you can’t say, ‘Well, go get in a car crash, but be careful,'” Pollard said. “You can’t do that, so we all know and understand this is a car wreck every single play with guys. We know and understand how to take care of our bodies as far as what’s a violent shot and then what’s an unnecessary violent shot.”

Pollard suggested that the increasing number of penalties and fines for hits directed toward the chest — where he appeared to hit Karim with his shoulder — will lead to more hits directed at opponents’ knees, which will lead to even more injuries.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, who said he got a good look at the Pollard hit from his vantage point on the field, stated officials need to be held responsible for the calls they make and suggested the NFL consider using instant replay to review questionable hits.

“I just think every man needs to be held accountable for whatever call they make,” Lewis said. “If you review so many other plays, review that one, too. That’s so big in that game. And every man makes a mistake.”

Regardless of the impact the penalty had on the third-quarter drive, Pollard does not intend to change his hard-hitting, aggressive style of play, even if it means he’ll receive penalties in the future.

“Football is football,” Pollard said. “If you ask me to go do it again this Sunday, I’m doing the same thing, so they’re going to either keep flagging us or they’re going to have to do something about this rule.”

Heap homecoming

Sunday will mark the return of former Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who spent the first 10 years of his career in Baltimore before being cut in a salary cap move prior to the start of training camp. Always popular in Baltimore, Heap will undoubtedly receive a warm reception from the 71,000 gathered at M&T Bank Stadium as he steps foot on the field as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

Joe Flacco expressed how critical Heap’s veteran presence was in his first three years, as the tight end was a reliable target inside the red zone and on third-down situations for the young quarterback.

“Anytime you have veteran guys around that you can get along with, and they trust you out there on the field, it makes things easier for a young quarterback,” Flacco said. “And Todd was one of those guys. He was a veteran guy who’s been around, played a lot of good football in his career and was able to trust in me when I was out there.”

While many former teammates will greet him prior to the game, the warm sentiment changes at kickoff.

“The love is always going to be there off the field,” said Lewis, who was teammates with Heap for 10 years. “Of course, once you put on a different-colored jersey, here we go again. If the ball comes his way and it just happens I’m there, I might tap him on his shoulder a little bit.”

It’s still undetermined whether Heap will actually be able to play after being sidelined for the last two games with a hamstring injury. The 11-year veteran was a limited participant for Arizona’s practice on Wednesday as the team will monitor his progress during the week.

“He’s real close,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a conference call with the Baltimore media, “but we have to make sure as this week progresses he can handle it — opening up and blocking and those things that we’re going to ask him to do. We’ve got to make sure his hamstring is in a position where he can do that.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Matt Birk, and Bernard Pollard right here.

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Ravens offense in familiar position trying to find itself

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Ravens offense in familiar position trying to find itself

Posted on 11 October 2011 by Luke Jones

It’s that time of year again.

Just as the foliage changes colors, the Ravens once again find themselves searching for their true identity on the offensive side of the football.

At 3-1 and sitting in first place in the AFC North after the Week 5 bye, it’s not as if the Ravens haven’t had their share of offensive success through the first quarter of the season. A balanced attack via the air and ground in a 35-7 stomping of Pittsburgh and a franchise-record 553-yard assault in St. Louis certainly support that notion.

Maintaining that success from week to week and, at times, quarter to quarter has been the problem. It’s a dilemma coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, and the Ravens are trying to solve as they currently rank 9th in rushing and 18th in passing in the NFL.

“We talked about it with our team [Monday], you know, what’s our identity?” Harbaugh said. “Well, our identity is a lot of things, but I think first and foremost, we’re going to attack people. And what does that mean? It means you attack people running the ball, you attack people throwing short, intermediate and deep. You attack people in pass protection, you attack people by putting everybody out.

“You’ve got to be able to do everything in the National Football League, so that you don’t become one-dimensional and they can’t take away something and leave you with nothing. And that’s what we’re searching for.”

Critics look to the up-and-down performance of quarterback Joe Flacco as a major factor in the offense’s inconsistency. After playing arguably the best game of his career in the season opener against the Steelers, Flacco followed it with a two-interception clunker in Tennessee. He then turned in a 389-yard passing day at St. Louis before completing just 10 of 31 passes — including two whole quarters without a completion — against the New York Jets.

With veteran Lee Evans missing two games with an ankle injury and three rookies trying to fill the void in complementing Anquan Boldin, Flacco has completed just 49.3 percent of his passes while tossing seven touchdown and three interceptions. The fourth-year quarterback has also struggled to adjust to life without veteran safety nets Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, who were released prior to training camp.

To make matters worse, Flacco’s rapport with Boldin has yet to blossom as many expected it would without the high-maintenance Mason in the picture. Boldin has just 15 catches and 222 yards with one touchdown in the first four games.

Despite the growing pains, Flacco has shown a better presence in the pocket and a more aggressive nature in the passing attack, according to Harbaugh.

“He’s doing a great job handling the protections, he’s making plays on the run, he’s making big plays at a record clip – especially for us, since we’ve been here [and] probably historically if you look at the Ravens, I would guess. That’s real. The big-play part of it is big for us.

“I think he’s playing well enough to be 3-1, and I think our offense is more explosive than it has been in the past thanks to Joe and the other guys. I think we can attack you in more ways than we have been able to recently. But, we’ve got to keep building on that; we’ve got to become more consistent. Obviously, the completion percentage, that’s going to have to come up; we’ve got to all work on that together. Those are all the things that we’re looking at, just like you guys are looking at.”

Cameron has once again come under fire for a questionable in-game feel for making adjustments, specifically when the Ravens failed to quicken their offensive tempo when trailing late in the second half against the Titans in Week 2 and when he continued to call passing plays against the New York Jets when Flacco was clearly out of sync in Week 4.

The seat will only get hotter for the offensive coordinator if the Ravens cannot quickly find a more consistent footing offensively.

In fact, the only consistent element of a hot-and-cold Baltimore offense has been Ray Rice, averaging 134.8 yards on 20.5 touches per game. The fourth-year back has been terrific on the ground and catching passes out of the backfield, leading the Ravens in receptions and receiving yards.

Whether you believe the Ravens should be the ground-and-pound, ball-control offense of their past in support of their dominating defense or an air-it-out, aggressive attack, Rice needs to touch the ball as much as possible every single week, regardless of the opponent.

Beyond that, we’re left asking ourselves what this team’s offensive identity really is — and should be.

It’s a familiar question, one even the Ravens are asking themselves at the quarter pole of the season.

“Who are the Ravens?” Harbaugh said. “What are we going to be about? What do we stand for? How are we going to play? What can the people and the fans in Baltimore and across the country expect from us and be proud of? That’s important. It’s a good time to kind of talk about that.”

All good questions. Ones that need to be answered quickly in a season with limitless possibilities.

What should the Ravens’ offensive identity be? What in-season changes would you make, if any? What factors have plagued the offense from taking the next step in its development? Leave your comments in the space below.

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