Ravens need to get offensive this off season

Is it shaky quarterback play? Is it a weak offensive line? Is it a hapless group of wide receivers? Is it poor offensive coaching? Is it a combination of all of above? Whatever it is, it's become abundantly clear the Ravens offense needs a major overhaul after this season.

The passers: Chris Redman makes good decisions and is
pretty good fit for the short passing game. His arm is
average at best, but with good reads and accuracy that
can be overcome. Redman doesn't have very good
mobility, though, and that's an issue that's
compounded by the serious injury concerns with regards
to his back. It's those concerns that make his
long-term future with the Ravens cloudy. On the other
hand, Jeff Blake seems to be in a bit of an extended
audition as the season closes. Blake has a stronger
arm than Redman, and that and his ability to throw
downfield have opened up the playbook some with Blake
in the lineup. However, he will make his share of
mistakes and poor decisions. At barely 6'0 tall, he
also struggles without a defined pocket.

The blockers: Jonathan Ogden is great. So great, that
Ogden, who may be having his best year, often gets
lost in the general mediocre play that defines the
Ravens offensive line. Edwin Mulitalo is very solid
next him on the line at left guard. However, that term
mediocre fits center Mike Flynn and right guard Bennie
Anderson perfectly, and right tackle Ethan Brooks has
been even worse than that down the stretch of the
season.

The catchers: Travis Taylor is frightfully
inconsistent and seems to have proved that he's never
going to the true No. 1 wide receiver the Ravens were
hoping for when they traded up to get him with the
10th overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft. He does,
however, flash enough skills to at least warrant a
spot as a 2nd or 3rd receiver. Brandon Stokley proved
to be a solid threat, especially with Redman was
starting. But, true to his history, he suffered a
season ending injury. Stokley has missed nearly half
of his games in Baltimore due to injury. Ron Johnson
is the Ravens most consistent wide receiver.
Unfortunately, that's not a good thing as the rookie
out of Minnesota has shown true hands of stone. Right
now, he can't catch a cold. Javin Hunter has good
speed, but is very raw and has problems of his own
with his hands. The saving grace for the Ravens is
that they have one of the best TE corps in the league.
Todd Heap is a bona fide star, and the biggest weapon
by far in the Ravens passing game. John Jones and
Terry Jones Jr. (no relation) provide good backup.

The coaching: Do the Ravens have an offensive system?
It's hard to tell from watching the last four years.
They seem to like deep drops from their quarterbacks,
but don't have the line to pass protect well enough to
be too successful at it. Then again, the wide
receivers don't seem to be able to get open fast
enough to do three step drops either. Do the Ravens
want to be a running team? Perhaps, but there seems to
be no consistent pattern of when to give Jamal Lewis
the ball, and rarely does it seem like he'll get it
more than two times in a row. They seem to be an
offense without an identity. Brian Billick has proven
to be one of the NFL's best coaches, and last year he
showed that he's willing to make moves in his coaching
staff when he pushed WR's coach Milt Jackson and ST's
coach Russ Purnell out the door. This off-season,
another change needs to be made, as Matt Cavanaugh,
offensive coordinator since Billick arrived four years
ago needs to be relieved of his duties. Is it all
Cavanaugh's fault? No, it never is all one person's
fault, but it's clear a change needs to be made and
not just in the personnel. Perhaps, Brian Billick will
turn to young David Shaw, the current Ravens WR coach.
Billick referred to him as a future star when he hired
him away last year from the Raiders. Or maybe, he'll
raid a explosive offensive team's staff and hire
someone like Kansas City QB coach Terry Shea.  Or
perhaps, he puts a call into Marty Mornhinweg, who
should be looking for a job in early January. Or
maybe, Billick takes over the offense himself.
Whatever happens, a change needs to occur this off
season. It hasn't worked on offense for too long with
too many players for their not to be.

What about the talent? The Ravens have plenty of cap
space this off-season to address this need. The first
thing that should be taken care after the coaching
situation is the offensive line. It all starts there
on your offense, and with one great starter, one good
starter (assuming they resign Mulitalo) and three
mediocre ones, it's an area that needs major
improvement. Jon Jansen would look great in a Ravens
uniform, but he's probably a little unrealistic. Wayne
Gandy or Cowboy tackles Solomon Page and Flozell Adams
are viable backup plans. Or perhaps, the Ravens could
turn things around and sign Randy Thomas to man the RG
spot and then draft a RT in the first round. At WR, if
you decide to pass on a RT in free agency, you could
sign David Boston or Peerless Price. But, the
Cardinals might still franchise Boston; so then the
Ravens could turn their attention to Price. If that
falls through, then you move on to plan B guys like
Brian Finneran or Kevin Dyson. At that point, maybe
your attention to drafting Andre Johnson from Miami,
or Roy Williams from Texas in the first round.  The
Ravens might have to trade up for both, though.

Then there's the QB situation. The free agent market
lo


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