Return of Pitta would help…obviously
Tell me something I don’t know, right?
Ravens fans were excited to learn earlier in the week that Dennis Pitta returned to practice for the first time since breaking a hip in training camp. Pitta was expected to see an uptick in targets from his best pal, Joe Flacco, as he was to be used more exclusively as the slot receiver. The position vacated by the trade of Anquan Boldin. The injury led to the signings of guys like Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark. Tandon Doss was released, and then resigned out of need.
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Here is a quick look at the receiving production from the 2012 season:
198 targets, 126 catches, 1,590 yards, and 11 touchdowns. That’s the production that the Ravens had to account for in 2013 with the departure of Anquan Boldin, and the injury suffered by Dennis Pitta.
Here are the numbers the 2013 receiving group are on pace to put up:
The Ravens are on pace for just 121 less yards through the air this season compared to last. Or about 7.5 yards per game.
Despite not having the two best weapons from the 2012 receiving group, a rushing attack worthy of making history for the wrong reasons, even Joe Flacco posting a career high in interceptions. Despite all of that, the passing game is getting about the same production as it did last year. That’s an encouraging sign that the offense should get better with the return of Pitta. Stats wise, they should exceed what they did in 2012 when they won 10 games, and overcome the weaknesses in the run game.
2013 could easily be defined as the season of missed opportunities. For example: The INT in the endzone at Buffalo. Stopped on the goal line against Green Bay, and then again in Chicago. Underthrown passes in Pittsburgh and Cleveland that could have been touchdowns. Plus numerous dropped passes here and there that stalled drives.
Maybe Dennis Pitta would have been there for a TD grab on all three of the red zone attempts I mentioned. Maybe he extends some drives where other receivers are dropping balls, leading to more scoring chances. Maybe Pitta is open more often on shorter routes so Flacco doesn’t have to try to heave 60 yard bombs into high winds.
The latter is the key I think to the Ravens having success in the remainder of the season. Take a look at this chart breaking down Pitta’s production on different parts of the field from 2012.
The short passes to the right was Dennis Pitta’s bread and butter. 20 catches on 22 targets, 136 yards after catch, 3 TDs.
Now take a look at how Flacco has perfomed this year, with attention to that area, short and to the right.
Only 29 catches by all receivers in that 0-9 yard range to the right. On pace for about 46 if Pitta were to not return. In 2012, Flacco was 67 of 84 (79.8%) for 675 yards and four TDs over in that zone. This year that percentage has dropped to 70.7%, on pace for only 360 yards, and more INTs than TDs.
Remember how I said Pitta could save Flacco from having to throw a lot of deep balls? He can be that security blanket when the deep ball just isn’t there. Look at Flacco’s chart on passes over 20 yards. 18.9% completion rate, zero TDs, five INTs. That’s what they call “low percentage passes”.
No timetable yet on when Dennis Pitta will return. But we hope when he does, Joe leans on him hard and in the areas where they excel the most. January football is still a small possibility. Can Pitta help get them there for the sixth straight season? Can he do enough to put the Ravens on the right side of all of these close games they like to play?
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]