The performance that I want to focus on from Week One is the passing game. Joe Flacco was very accurate completing 26 of 43 passes.
All this means to me is that Flacco has continued his growth in to his sophomore NFL season. He also had his best day as a pro throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
What made Flacco’s performance even more impressive was his ability to spread the ball around. Flacco hit seven different receivers for his completions and three different receivers for his touchdowns. The game proved that the Ravens could, in fact, win the game with an air attack.
I believe the real story with the Ravens passing game was the wide receivers. All during training camp and exhibition games the wide receiving corps was much maligned. Mark Clayton, who had a hamstring injury for the entire preseason, came up very big for the Ravens Sunday against Kansas City.
Clayton averaged 15.4 yards per catch in his performance which led the Ravens receivers. Clayton’s 31-yard reception down the middle of the field was a huge contribution to the offense and proved to be the winning score in the game.
Another encouraging sign for Baltimore was the re-emergence of Todd Heap. Heap has struggled for the last two seasons and seemed to disappear in the offense last season.
Heap also scored a touchdown and caught five balls in the Ravens 38-24 win. His 74 yards were over the middle of the field. The middle of the field is where the Ravens lacked production in the passing game last season.
Derrick Mason seemed to fill his role beautifully as the possession receiver in the offense. Kelley Washington assisted as well with that role in the slot. The backs also served their purpose by receiving passes in check down situations for Flacco.
As impressive as the passing game was Sunday, the game plan needs to change for San Diego in Week Two. The Ravens, as I said, have now proved that Flacco can win the game for them if they need him to, but that’s not their identity.
San Diego did have a poor pass defense last season, but that could change this season. Baltimore will have a good passing game this season, but the run is what will open it up for them. To be successful in their game against the Chargers, Baltimore must run the ball to open up their now potent passing game.
I see a very good passing attack in Week Two with Flacco spreading the ball around to all of his receivers again. The Chargers game could feature less passing and more of a ball control offense for the Ravens. Flacco will again be accurate and could throw for two more touchdowns.
If the Ravens throw the ball 30 times or less, and Flacco is as accurate as he was in Week One, expect a good offensive showing against a very talented Chargers team.