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Ravens lag behind in red-zone TDs


Ravens lag behind in red-zone TDs

So much has been made of the Ravens' use of the hurry-up offense, the receivers and whether or not the linebackers -- without the injured Terrell Suggs for at least the first six games leading the way -- can get pressure on the quarterback going into Monday night's opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ultimately, however, for the Ravens are able to get over the hump and become a true threat to make it to the Super Bowl, it'll come down to their red-zone offense.

Quarterback Joe Flacco lamented that he'd like to have more options when they get inside the 20-yard line of the opponent such as taking more chances passing the ball on first downs.

While the Ravens had the NFL's best defense in the red zone by giving up the fewest touchdowns in the area (16 in 42 possessions), the offense was just 17th when it came to scoring touchdowns there (25 in 49 possessions).

There's been a gradual progression with the Ravens taking red-zone risks. In Flacco's 2008 rookie season, the Ravens threw just 39 times overall in the red zone. Each year the number increased to 46, then 50 and 54 times in 2011, according to the Ravens.

When it comes to passing on first down overall, the Ravens threw 197 times last season compared with 130 during Flacco's rookie year.

While that's shows a significant bump, it still trails the more prolific offenses of the last three Super Bowl winners and how they passed on first down last season: The Saints threw 298 times, the Packers 239 and the Giants 260, according to advanced statistics from the NFL.

In fact, all three passed more on first down more than they ran the ball.

Even more telling, on first down in the red zone with just one yard to go, the Saints passed 75 of the time and the Packers 67.

The Ravens? They ran the ball in that same situation 67 of the time.

More telling than that: When the Ravens have two or three yards to go on first down in the red zone, they ran the ball 100 of the time.

So when Flacco suggests the offense has been too predictable, he is correct. While running back Ray Rice is better than the running backs on those recent Super Bowl winners which explains why the Ravens' play-calling, it's still too predictable.

Scoring more could help offset the potential lapses they might have on defense without Suggs and run-stopping linebacker Jarret Johnson, who left as a free agent.

In his last game of the preseason vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars, Flacco threw seven times on 10 first-down plays in the red zone.

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?