Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith makes a catch against the… (Rob Grabowski, USA Today…)
If the NFL draft was held today, the Ravens should find themselves a big, tall wide receiver.
They have holes in other places especially on the offensive line, but the Ravens need a big, fast body to complement speedy receiver Torrey Smith on the other side.
Just about every one else in the AFC North has one or two. The Cleveland Browns have 6-foot-3, 225-pound Josh Gordon and 6-foot-2, 220-pound Greg Little . The Cincinnati Bengals have 6-foot-4, 207-pound A.J. Green and 6-foot-2, 210-pound Mohamed Sanu.
And the Ravens?
They don't have munchkins, but they don't have another receiver except Smith that makes the clutch catch in crunch time. Some have speed like Jacoby Jones and some have size like Marlon Brown, but they don't have the total package, like Anquan Boldin.
Of course, the Ravens traded him to the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason, but the Ravens could have used him Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Unlike Tandon Doss who dropped two passes in critical situations, Boldin would have swallowed those up easily.
If the Ravens need a blueprint, just look at the Bears. They started some quarterback named Josh McCown and two rookies on the right side of the offensive line, guard Kyle Long and tackle Jordan Mills. But at wide receiver, they had 6-foot-3, 213 pound Alshon Jeffery and 6-foot-4, 230 pound Brandon Marshall.
The Ravens secondary, particularly cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, played well but Jeffery had seven catches for 83 yards and Marshall had four for 42.
On a day when the winds blew and the rains drenched Soldier Field, the Bears' receivers played basketball with McCown. They posted up more than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers. They ran simple curls, outs and sideline patterns, routes where they got those big bodies in between the defenders and the ball.
During Chicago's 11-play, 83-yard drive early in the fourth quarter, Marshall had a 16-yard catch and Jeffery had receptions of 15, 15 and 8 yards. And then on the Bears' game-winning drive, there was the 43-yard pass from McCown to tight end Martellus Bennett.
It was another mismatch.
Webb is 5-10 and weighs 182 pounds. He was in great position but 6-foot-6, 265 pound Bennett made a great play leaping over him.
You get the picture, right?
"With those guys, it's just getting it in their circle and let them make a play," McCown said.
McCown isn't better than Flacco and he beat the Ravens. Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell isn't better than Flacco, and he beat the Ravens. The Ravens have to find Flacco another big target on the outside.
He has been in Baltimore for six seasons and we all know the MO. Flacco is inconsistent and at times inaccurate, but he finishes well. He is The Big Closer. He has proven this year that he can't carry an offense, but the Ravens made a $120 million investment in him, so why not provide another weapon?
Former Ravens coach Brian Billick built his offensive reputation by throwing up jump balls to Randy Moss when they were in Minnesota. When the Ravens first moved to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1995, they had one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL because they had speed on one side in Derrick Alexander, and a big receiver on the other in Michael Jackson.
If Boldin wasn't leaping out of the stadiums to pull down passes in the postseason nearly a year ago, Flacco probably wouldn't have landed his big contract. After watching the Ravens experiment with receivers the last two years, you have to wonder if it is working.
But if you get a big receiver on one end with Smith on the other and Dennis Pitta at tight end, the Ravens might be on to something again.
It worked once, so try it again.