Boldin's play a positive for Ravens offense in flux

Posted Dec. 10, 2012 @ 4:23 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

It has become painfully clear that the Ravens’ defense isn’t as stout as before, which adds to the need for the offense to be in top form for the Ravens to have any chance of competing down the stretch. The Ravens’ decision to change offensive coordinators, with QB coach Jim Caldwell replacing Cam Cameron, underscores the importance of the offense finding its best stride before it is too late.

In the Week 14 loss at Washington, the Ravens’ offense showed flashes of promise. For starters, Baltimore’s running game, led by RB Ray Rice, gashed Washington for 186 yards. Also, QB Joe Flacco threw three TD passes, two to WR Anquan Boldin.

The offense’s identity under Caldwell will be closely scrutinized. Will the club more frequently use the no-huddle attack? Flacco has made no secret of how much he likes the no-huddle, and it’s a scheme the Ravens have employed with a good deal of success.  

Caldwell has never before called plays at the NFL level, but he has a good deal of talent at his disposal. In addition to Rice, a blue-chip back, the Ravens’ passing offense has shown some real playmaking ability, and Boldin's continued strong play at age 32 is one of the reasons why. 

Now in his third season with the Ravens, Boldin has been the club’s most productive receiver in 2012, leading the club in catches (58) and yards (828). Though he’s not known for his deep speed, Boldin has been a solid intermediate threat for Baltimore. He has 16 catches of 20 yards or more this season, the most he’s had since 2005. In fact, in each of the last two seasons, he’s had more than a quarter of his catches go for at least 20 yards — the only such campaigns in which he has accomplished this feat.

The Ravens’ top deep threat, Torrey Smith, has had an up-and-down season. He’s had some wonderful moments (such as his two-TD game vs. New England), but he’s caught less than half of the passes thrown his way in six of the last eight games. Nevertheless, Smith’s playmaking ability is undeniable and a valuable component in this offense. So, too, is Boldin’s steadiness — as well as his perhaps underrated playmaking streak.