In Phillip Rivers’s second season, only twice in his first six games did he attempt fewer than 35 passes. Not including his first game, an easy 27-0 victory over Oakland in which he attempted only 11 passes, Rivers averaged 35.2 passes per game. By week 7, San Diego’s record was 4-2. After week 7, Rivers’s average passes per game dropped to 27 and the Chargers went undefeated. Again, not including that first Oakland game, Ladanian Tomlinson averaged 18.8 carries a game. After week 7, he averaged 22.3 carries.
The point in looking at these numbers is to calm the nerves of Ravens fans worried that the offense is too predicated on Joe Flacco’s arm. Cam Cameron did a fantastic job of bringing Phillip Rivers along in his second season, and he also struck a good balance between the run and pass that ultimately led to a 14-2 season for the Chargers. Perhaps for the first time in the entire existence of the Ravens, the team has an offensive coordinator with a plan. Cam Cameron has a proven track record of nurturing young quarterbacks and producing explosive offenses.
So, why would Cam Cameron have Joe Flacco throw the ball 40+ times against the Patriots when Willis McGahee is looking so good and Ray Rice is averaging over 10 yards per carry? Simple–when teams game plan against the ravens, they are going to look at the first four to six games and see a pass-first offense. So far this season, Flacco has been playing somewhere below Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, but above talented younger players like Matt Ryan, and established veterans like Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger.
Flacoo’s play thus far should rightfully frighten teams and distract them from the fact that Ray Rice and Willis McGahee look better than ever. Not to mention that by throwing so much early on, both Rice and McGahee will be fresher this season than last year, when the run game seemed to lose steam in the playoffs. Flacco’s arm may be a little sore, but imagine how nice it must be for Willis McGahee and Ray Rice to be already a quarter of the way through the season with nary a bruise or a scratch to show for it. Le’ron McClain is also worth mentioning here, since he has barely been used as a runner thus far but still has the potential to be great in key short yardage situations.
When the Ravens play teams like Pittsburgh, the team is going to need to rely on the running game to control the clock and keep the Ben Roethlisberger off the field as much as possible. Harbaugh and Cameron would be overjoyed to see Hines Ward spend the majority of the games smiling on the sidelines as the Ravens grind out victories on the ground. Joe Flacco is the key to the Ravens’s offense, but Cam Cameron knows that, by passing so much to start the season, the team will open up opportunities on the ground later on.
Continuing with this trend, I expect the Ravens to throw a lot this weekend against Cincinnati . The Bengals are an inferior team and, if we can beat them in the air, we will.