The top priority for Baltimore’s offense at the start of the offseason was to develop a rhythm within the passing game.
The Ravens almost completely re-made the receiving corps by signing Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV, and drafting several targets in receivers Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott, and tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.
Through Organized Team Activities and minicamp, the passing game showed encouraging signs, as quarterback Joe Flacco seemed to have quick chemistry with his new targets. Flacco, the receivers and the coaching staff all indicated that the group is trending is the right direction.
Here’s an overview of what some of them had to say before the offseason program concluded last week:
Quarterback Joe Flacco
On the passing game overall: “I’m confident with where we are right now, especially when you look back at last year and the last couple of years. I just feel like, for whatever reason, we’ve got guys that are ready to go and confident and have had a really good couple of weeks. I think we can all feel good about it. I think guys have been working hard, and we’ve had some results too.”
On his connection with Snead: “Especially the last few days, I’ve really started to get a little connection with him and just some of the routes he has run. He has a knack for seeing the game the way the quarterback does, and he makes his decisions quick, and he gets into open spots quickly. I think that’s a wakeup to me when I’m standing back in the pocket, that, man, he’s going to be ready and he’s going to make the right decisions so I can anticipate and I can be confident to put this ball on him, because he’s going to make the right decisions. And I think that’s grown leaps and bounds just in this week, in this minicamp.”
Head Coach John Harbaugh
On Flacco’s improved health helping the passing game overall: “We have a new receiving corps. Obviously, those guys are going to be pivotal going forward. The fact that your quarterback is out there, he’s healthy, and he’s playing well, and he’s on target, he’s throwing the ball well, he’s running the offense – [that] allows everything else to develop.”
WR Coach Bobby Engram
On his overall impressions of the group: “They are football guys who love and embody what they do. Smart football players, and I thought we’ve really had a good offseason, in terms of just grasping the offense, catching the ball and making plays.”
On getting a new group up to speed: “It’s a little challenging, but more exciting, because that’s what we do and that’s what we enjoy as coaches, in terms of teaching and developing – you know, that final product that you want to see out there. So, it’s on me, and it’s on us as a group to make sure we’re seeing on tape what we want to see. To me, that part is exciting and this is just the foundation. We have a lot of work to put in, and the competition has been great.”
On the progression of Scott and Lasley since the draft: “No. 1 is playbook. That’s first and foremost. We threw a lot at these guys early on, so heads were spinning a little bit. But once they got comfortable in the playbook, you see their natural abilities take over. Jordan is playing fast, he’s great with the ball in his hands after the catch. Jaleel has really good hands; he’s learning how to continue to refine his route-running. But both of those guys bring a level of playmaking to the team that we enjoy.”
On Chris Moore’s impressive offseason: “The No. 1 thing is consistency with Chris. Chris has always been talented, but I think the thing that you see now is him consistently getting open and making the plays. And part of that is just the natural development as a receiver.”
WR Willie Snead
On his overall development with Flacco: “I think it comes with a lot of reps, and it comes with communication on certain plays. [It’s about] the ones we missed, the ones we connect on, just being able to connect and talk about each and every route, what he sees and what I’m seeing. When we’re able to do that – and we have so much time to do that before game time comes – it’s just a huge thing.”
Safety Eric Weddle
On what he’s seen from Flacco and the passing game: “He’s worked extremely hard, and our new group of receivers, it’s just nice to see guys competing – to see ‘Crab’ [Michael Crabtree] catching everything. That’s why he’s here, right? He could be completely gloved up, and he’ll snag that ball out of nowhere. So, it’s been a great offseason, just to see how far we’ve come, how far we still have to go. But this group is going to be a special group.”