Healthy Joe Flacco plus new Ravens receivers equal 'exponential' boost

Joe Flacco passed for fewer than 200 yards in seven of 16 games last season. AP Photo/David Richard

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh considered aloud the level of improvement the team can expect out of its new passing attack.

"A healthy Joe Flacco plus the weapons, I’m sure there’s a math term for that," Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings. "Exponential. It’s exponential. That’s what I’m counting on."

The Ravens hope the equation works out to something better than 29, which was Baltimore's ranking among pass offenses last season. That they had the third-worst ranking for a pass offense in franchise history shouldn't come as a major surprise.

Flacco missed all of the preseason and training camp because of a herniated disc. He didn't practice until eight days before the season opener.

Flacco's receivers didn't help him much. Jeremy Maclin, who was injured and disinterested, totaled career lows in catches (40) and receiving yards (440). Mike Wallace was held under 50 yards receiving in half of his games and dropped key passes in the season-finale loss to the Bengals.

The Ravens prioritized fixing their passing game this offseason, and part of that objective was to improve Flacco's supporting cast. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2012, Flacco ranks No. 36 in passer rating (82.1) and No. 40 in yards per attempt (6.48).

Baltimore has had one of the most inefficient and least explosive passing attacks in the NFL. Flacco was held under 200 yards passing in nearly half of his games last season (seven).

The Ravens believe they upgraded their deep threat in signing John Brown while letting Wallace sign with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. At 27, Brown is four years younger than Wallace. He also has better hands and runs more routes. But Wallace has proven to be more durable and has produced more big plays downfield.

"John Brown is a really exciting player that our fans are going to be really thrilled to watch play," Harbaugh said. "He’d been hurt last year, had some hamstring issues that took his production down a little bit. It probably opened the door for us a little bit to get him. Sometimes, that’s a positive deal. If you look back at the Monday Night Football game we played maybe three years ago against them out in Arizona, he had a big game against us."

The Ravens feel they improved at the possession-receiver role. Michael Crabtree is tougher than Maclin, and he's a much bigger threat in the red zone. He's averaged 75 catches over the past four seasons, and he's scored at least eight touchdowns in the past three years.

"I know our fans are excited about [Crabtree] and they should be," Harbaugh said. "This guy, he’s a pit bull. He is a tough … He is a Raven."