Baltimore Ravens: Tight Ends Will Be Key to Success for Offense
With the introduction of the new no-huddle offense for the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco, the team is expected to pass the ball more this year than in previous years. Flacco essentially has full control of the offense now, and he will show how successful he can be in the new offense on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
After using the no-huddle offense in the preseason, Flacco and Co. appear to be ready the unleash the new up-tempo offense in a meaningful game. The Bengals defense is a solid measuring point to test the offense against.
In the preseason, Flacco threw for 433 yards and three touchdowns in the newly introduced offense, but one thing was missing: Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.
Pitta missed the entire preseason with a broken hand, and Dickson injured his shoulder in the first preseason game, forcing him to miss the next three games. In the one game that Dickson played, he caught two passes for 15 yards and a touchdown. However, it wasn't a large enough body of work to determine his potential for the 2012 season.
But with Dickson and Pitta both healthy and set to start on Monday night, it appears that they could both have breakout years, as well as impactful performances in the season opener. In the no-huddle offense, both Pitta and Dickson can be utilized both as tight ends and slot receivers.
Dickson and Pitta are both athletic receivers who are fast for tight ends. That was shown in 2011 when Pitta averaged 10.1 yards per catch and Dickson averaged 9.8 yards per catch. Sharing the role as starting tight end for the Ravens, they combined for 94 catches and eight touchdowns.
If they are used more as receivers in the new offense as expected, they will both catch at least 50 passes each this season. Now that they have both progressed, they can be used in the same way that the New England Patriots use Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Of course, the combo of Pitta and Dickson is nowhere near as talented as the combo for the Patriots, but they can be used the same way. The Patriots, who run an up-tempo offense much like the Ravens will this year, use their tight ends in all possible ways. Gronkowski and Hernandez line up at both tight end and slot receiver, as well as in the backfield for certain packages.
In order to get the most out of Pitta and Dickson, the Ravens should follow the blueprint that the Patriots use.
Both Dickson and Pitta are talented tight ends who still haven't reached their full potential. They could become a dangerous 1-2 punch by the end of the 2012 season.
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