Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
880 -- Receiving yards for tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Anquan Boldin out of the slot last season.
After the offseason trade of Boldin and the season-ending hip injury to Pitta, quarterback Joe Flacco will go into 2013 without two of his top three targets from 2012. More specifically, Flacco will be without his two most valuable receivers over the middle. In 2012, Pitta and Boldin combined to make 58 catches for 880 yards and eight touchdowns when running routes out of the slot. Their combined receiving yards out of the slot accounted for 23.1 percent of Flacco’s passing yards. And believe it or not, Pitta was actually more productive than Boldin out of the slot. He had 39 catches for 451 yards and six scores. Only three tight ends -- Jimmy Graham of New Orleans, Tony Gonzalez of Atlanta and Jason Witten of Dallas -- had more receiving yards out of the slot.
41 -- Percentage of plays the Ravens went shotgun in 2012.
I knew the Ravens used shotgun formations a lot last season. The team often went shotgun not only in two-minute-type situations, but also when they went hurry-up to breathe some life into their offense. Still, it was surprising to see that the Ravens used shotgun on more than two of every five of their snaps, according to Football Outsiders. And what is even more surprising is that the Ravens, even at 41 percent of their plays, were just 23rd in the NFL in shotgun snaps in 2012. Across the NFL, the shotgun (or pistol) was used on a record-setting 47.5 percent of the plays, according to Football Outsiders. In 2001, shotgun was used on just 14 percent of the plays.
plus-41 -- The Ravens’ total turnover differential since 2008.
One of the hallmarks of the Ravens since John Harbaugh became head coach in 2008 has been ball security. They have averaged just 1.29 turnovers per game over the past five years, and the most they had in a season was 24 in 2011. Last season, they were tied for second in the NFL with just 16 turnovers. The steady hand of Flacco has a lot to do with that. Flacco has thrown just 56 interceptions in his five seasons. Couple that ball security with their defense’s propensity to create turnovers, and the Ravens have a plus-41 turnover differential since 2008. They have had a positive turnover differential in each of the past five seasons.
268 -- Total career catches for the Ravens’ top four wideouts.
After the trade of Boldin, the Ravens are now relatively green at the wide receiver position. Torrey Smith made 99 catches in his first two NFL seasons. Jacoby Jones, the greybeard of the group, has 157 in six seasons. And then there are Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson, the two youngsters battling for the No. 3 wide receiver spot. Those two have 12 career catches between them. Every player has to start somewhere, though, so we’ll see if that lack of experience is a factor this season.
27.54 -- Their average time in seconds between plays in 2012.
This time a year ago, we were talking about how fast the Ravens could go in their no-huddle offense. Thanks to the fine folks at Football Outsiders, we now have an answer. The Ravens averaged 27.54 seconds of game clock between plays last season, an offensive pace that ranked third in the NFL. The New England Patriots were more than three seconds faster, averaging 24.53 between plays. The Denver Broncos ranked second at 27.45. And yes, I know what you’re thinking: The Ravens beat both of those teams on the way to the Super Bowl.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at email@example.com or tweet at me at @mattvensel. If I use it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug.