OWINGS MILLS, Md. — NFL analyst and former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith had some harsh words for the team's offense following a loss to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC playoffs.
“There are times when stories are coming out that some of the wide receivers can’t get separation, Smith said on the NFL Network. "Well, when you’re running the type of route combination—very elementary school, very cracker jack-like, very easy to defend, you can’t necessarily put it all on the wide receivers. If you have, ‘You two go deep, you two go shallow and Lamar, throw to whoever’s open.” That’s just not the NFL. That’s not the complexity in the NFL and their passing is not very complex."
The Ravens finished the regular season with the league No. 1 ranked running attack averaging 191.9 yards per game. However, the passing attack was ranked dead last averaging 171.2 yards per game.
Baltimore was the first team since the Falcons in 2006 led by quarterback Michael Vick to lead the league in rushing but finish last in passing, according to ESPN research.
One year after being named NFL, MVP, Ravens quarterback Jackson had another solid season. He threw for 2,757 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions (99.3 rating). Jackson also became the first quarterback in league history to record two 1,000 yards rushing seasons.
Jackson's season came to a disappointing end with a 17-3 loss to the Bills in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. He threw a critical interception on a third-and-goal to Buffalo cornerback Taron Johnson, who ran 101 yards for the score. Baltimore never recovered and Jackson was later forced from the game with a concussion.
The Ravens will likely look to add a veteran, playmaking wide receiver, and depth on the offensive line, which struggles with pass blocking.
Some of the Ravens players admitted the team needs more balance.
"Whenever you're the No. 1 rushing [offense] and the 30-something passing [team], that's not right," said wide receiver Marquise Brown, who caught 58 passes for 769 yards with eight touchdowns during the regular season. "That's not balanced. We got to find a way to balance our game. Even with our great rushing attack, we got to be able to throw the ball and be able to move the ball through the air."
Baltimore offensive coordinator Greg Roman is taking some of the criticism for discrepancies between the success of the running game and the failures of the passing attack. Smith contends the Ravens might need to make some changes this offseason.
"I just believe Greg Roman’s a fantastic coordinator," Smith said. "However, that fantastic coordinator needs to start looking for a job somewhere else because I believe that his time has expired on this offense.
"If you want Lamar Jackson to continue to be a stellar quarterback, an MVP-type of quarterback, you need to implement a second notch or a third level of the passing game that makes it a little bit more complicated because it’s not very complicated. My 6-year-old who is asleep right now can probably run this offense as well.”