On the Ravens final offensive play of their 19-13 loss to Denver, Joe Flacco tried to throw a pass down the middle to a well-covered Crockett Gillmore. Former Raven Darian Stewart cut across the middle and picked off the pass in the end zone, sealing the season-opening loss for the Ravens.
The play was a microcosm of the Ravens day: They were hampered all day by the inability of receivers to get open, and by the lack of production of the tight ends, which are thought to be a key component of Marc Trestman's offense.
Gillmore finished with two catches for 23 yards, including a big fourth-down catch on the Ravens final possession. Rookie Maxx Williams had one catch for 15 yards. But for large stretches of the game, the tight ends were invisible. Neither tight end had a pass thrown his way in the first half.
As with virtually every other facet of the offense, the Ravens came away from Denver knowing they need more from the tight end position.
Trestman's Bears team last season leaned heavily on tight end Martellus Bennett. He was targeted 128 times -- eight times a game -- and finished with 90 catches for 916 yards. Bennett was targeted 94 times the year before. Granted, no one is saying Gillmore is Bennett, but the numbers suggest the kind of workload that a No. 1 tight end in Trestman's offense might ideally expect.
It's clear, though, that Flacco and Gillmore need to create the kind of on-field chemistry that Flacco had with Pitta. In the season opener last year, Flacco targeted Pitta 14 times, and he finished with 10 catches. Gillmore was targeted four times by Flacco in Denver.
The end zone pass to Gillmore would have been a tough catch, but more than once in training camp red zone drills, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Gillmore went up and grabbed such a pass over a smaller defender. This time, though, it didn't happen.
“I have to come down with that. I was given the opportunity and I just have to come up with the play,” Gillmore said, per the Ravens Web site. “I have to win the one-on-one part of it, and then when the ball’s in the air, it’s got to be mine; there is no other option.”
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