Baltimore Ravens: Return of Danny Woodhead Should Help Passing Game


The Baltimore Ravens currently have the worst passing attack in the NFL, but the return of Danny Woodhead from the injured reserve should help them get better.

The Baltimore Ravens currently have the worst passing attack in the NFL. Literally, they are dead-last in passing yards with 1,491, behind the Chicago Bears, who have 1,528 passing yards on the year so far, and dead-last in yards per game with 166.

In fact, you name a passing statistic, the Baltimore Ravens are bad in it. Yards per attempt? They’re last in the league at 5.3. Passing touchdowns? They’re 27th with 10 (and the teams tied for last have nine, so the Ravens aren’t far off). Interceptions? The Baltimore Ravens are tied for fifth-most in the league with 10. Passer rating? They’re 29th in the league with a 74.6 passer rating.

It’s just been awful. And it’s fair to wonder whose fault it is. Is it Joe Flacco‘s fault? He’s been the quarterback the vast majority of the season. Or is it the offensive line’s fault, which has been decimated by injuries including losing Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda for the season?

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Or is it the receivers? Certainly having Breshad Perriman out there, who owns the worst catch rate in the NFL at 25.9% doesn’t help, though both Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace have been fine when they’re out there.

There’s really no one person to blame it all on, but one thing is for sure. The return of Danny Woodhead can do nothing but help this passing offense immensely.

From 2010 to 2016, only one running back in the NFL has caught more third-down passes than Danny Woodhead, and that’s Darren Sproles, perhaps the greatest receiving back of all time. And of those third-down catches that Woodhead has made, 51% of them have been converted into first downs.

That’s important to note, because as of now, the Baltimore Ravens are 28th in the NFL in third-down conversions, converting just 34.1% of their third downs into first downs.

The Ravens know this, it’s why they signed him to a three-year, $8.8 million deal in the offseason, they know how impactful Danny Woodhead can be on an offense, and we started to see some of that before he went down with an injury, like this awesome catch against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1:

According to head coach John Harbaugh, Woodhead provides Flacco with an opportunity “to have someone to work underneath a little bit, to drop the ball down to when he needs to, to run screens, to put out there as a wide receiver and create matchup issues for people.” That’s a level of flexibility this Ravens’ passing game needs.

The downside to Woodhead has been his injury history. Over the past three seasons, Woodhead has missed 27 games (that’s around 56% of the total games played in that timespan), which includes a season-ending ACL tear in Week 2 of last year.

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But if Woodhead stays healthy, he could really help this Ravens passing attack much in the way that Alex Collins has breathed life into the Ravens’ rushing game. He’s eligible to return during tomorrow’s game against the Green Bay Packers.