John Harbaugh: No secret that Ravens need to add offensive playmakers

Mike Wallace was one of the few Ravens capable of stretching the field. Nick Wass/AP

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Tennessee Titans pulled off one of the biggest road comebacks in playoff history Saturday when Derrick Henry produced a 35-yard touchdown run and Eric Decker caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. A day later, the New Orleans Saints jump-started their postseason victory with a 80-yard touchdown catch by Ted Ginn Jr.

This underscored another reason why the Baltimore Ravens are watching the playoffs instead of playing in them right now. The Ravens didn't have the playmakers to deliver big plays.

Baltimore ranked last in the NFL with 37 plays of 20 or more yards and five touchdowns of 20-plus yards last season. Asked if the Ravens need to add more offensive playmakers, coach John Harbaugh said, "Absolutely."

"I do not think it is any secret that we need to add playmakers to the mix," Harbaugh said.

Joe Flacco wasn't on top of his game for most of the season but received little help from his supporting cast. His top wide receivers in 2017 were Mike Wallace, who has one 1,000-yard season over the past six years; Jeremy Maclin, who was cut in June after one of the worst seasons of his career; and Breshad Perriman, who is looking like the biggest first-round bust in team history.

Flacco's top target at tight end was Benjamin Watson, a 37-year-old coming off an Achilles injury, and his best running back was Alex Collins, who spent training camp and the preseason with the Seattle Seahawks.

"I think if anyone looks at the needs on our team, that's where we're going to be looking to fill our roster," Harbaugh said. "I'm not giving away any secret there. Everybody in the league knows that. We have to do that."

The lack of playmakers was never more evident than Baltimore's final drive of the season. With less than a minute remaining, the Ravens needed to drive the length of the field for a winning touchdown and were down to two receivers because of injuries: Wallace and Quincy Adeboyejo, who was promoted that week from the practice squad.

Team officials talked last offseason about strengthening the supporting cast around Flacco. But the only free-agent additions were Maclin and running back Danny Woodhead, both of whom battled injuries and never really found their place in the offense. The Ravens then didn't draft an offensive skill position player for the first time in franchise history.

It explains why three players -- Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins and Robby Anderson -- had more touchdowns of 20-plus yards the season than the entire Ravens team.

"You can never have too many playmakers, ever. But the fact that [people say] we did not have enough, that is ridiculous," Wallace said. "I think it is crazy. Guys did not make as many plays as they want to make, but we have a lot of guys. You can point to so many guys that did not make plays throughout the season. Maybe they didn’t make them the whole entire every single game, but everyone had big moments. I think we had more than enough playmakers. I think the hardest part was trying to find out how to use everybody, because you have so many players."

Baltimore will feel the pressure to help out the offense after going so heavy on defense in free agency and in the draft last year. But the Ravens have to do a better job at finding offensive talent with the higher draft picks.

Since 2013 (a span of five drafts), Baltimore has drafted three offensive skill position players in the first three rounds. Perriman has struggled so much that he was a healthy scratch four times this season. Tight end Maxx Williams is more of a blocker than a pass-catcher. And tight end Crockett Gillmore can't stay healthy and finished on injured reserve two of the past three seasons.

This is why the Ravens once again need to find a wide receiver and a pass-catching tight end in free agency or the draft this year.

"We had plenty of talent," Flacco said. "We had a lot of good guys and a lot of guys who fought hard on this team. I'm never going to feel bad about what they're doing upstairs. It's my job as a quarterback to go out there, play the game and get everybody playing well."

The only wide receiver who has a secure spot on the team is Chris Moore. Wallace is a free agent, Maclin could get cut ($5 million cap savings) and Perriman might get released before he finishes his rookie deal. At tight end, Watson could retire and the other top two -- Williams and Nick Boyle -- make more of an impact opening holes in the run game.

Still, Harbaugh won't guarantee an offensive player will get drafted with the No. 16 overall pick, Baltimore's first selection in this draft.

"If there’s some player sitting there, just staring us in the face, at a position of strength -- knowing Ozzie [Newsome] and his system, and I would agree with it -- you’re just not going to not take that guy," Harbaugh said. "By the same token, the draft is to make your team as strong as it can possibly be. I think that’s where our focus is going to be."