Even though the Baltimore Ravens performed poorly on the offensive, there are still some positive things we can take from two of the top receivers.
Let’s start with Brown. He was third on the team with 49 receptions for 524 yards, while averaging about 10 yards a catch. Brown even led the team with seven touchdown receptions.
One thing that really stood out is his sense of presence on the field. Against the Minnesota Vikings, Brown caught the game-winning touchdown catch after a crazy fourth quarter. He had to keep his mental focus and physical presence in snowy conditions.
Brown really showed a lot of maturity this season, and when Flacco, hopefully, pulls himself together next season, he should really be able to shine next to Smith.
Brown had great hands catching multiple pressure receptions for touchdowns and first downs.
I am excited to see what he can do with more receptions and more opportunities in his second season as a Raven. Flacco targeted Brown 83 times with only three dropped passes all season.
Brown came along well for his first year and a season in which Flacco was not himself. Of the 83 targets, 49 were receptions by Brown with three drops, which accounts for about 30 missed passes on Flacco, while also accounting for opposing defenses.
Torrey Smith was targeted 137 times for 65 receptions, and he recorded 1,128 yards receiving with about a 17 per-catch average, which all led the team. However, he did not turn his catches into touchdowns as often with only four this season.
That is heavily on Flacco, not Smith. Despite not beating his career high in touchdowns set last season at eight, he did accumulate nearly 400 more receiving yards over his previous high set also in 2012.
Of the 137 targets, Smith only dropped seven passes, so Flacco accounted for roughly 65 missed passes, again also remembering to account for the defensive presence.
Without Boldin, Flacco targeted Smith a bit more this season than last year (110 times in 2012). Boldin was a key part of the offense, and Flacco never successfully adapted without him.
Flacco threw to Boldin 112 times in 2012 and Smith 110 times. This season, Flacco clearly targeted Smith over any other receiver, with Brown the next closest.
Next season, Flacco needs to turn his attention to Brown, Smith, and of course Pitta, who should be healthy from the start. He needs to spread his attention out, but like he did in 2012, he needs to pick two wide receivers to evenly distribute the ball, and not just one.
Even better, Flacco could spread it out among three receivers, but as is often observable, a good quarterback has two favorites who feed off each other. Pitta should provide help also by becoming a common target of Flacco.
All of this will help Brown and Smith continue to grow as receivers. Certainly Brown and Smith should be the Ravens top two receivers, unless the Ravens make some sort of move in the offseason.
I have high hopes for these receivers to continue to grow, especially if Flacco returns to his previous form.