Is Baltimore putting too much hope in Michael Crabtree?

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Michael Crabtree
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Michael Crabtree /

Michael Crabtree is an upgrade over who Joe Flacco had to throw to last year, but he’s not good enough to be a true number one wideout for the Ravens.

If the Baltimore Ravens offense is going to take a step forward in 2018, they’re going to need much better production from their wide receivers. Michael Crabtree is certainly an upgrade over last year’s group, but counting on him to be a number one receiver at this point in his career is a very big gamble.

Unfortunately for Ravens fans, it seems their favorite team is doing just that. Joe Flacco has already anointed Crabtree as “the guy.” He believes the former Raiders wideout has a very “crafty” way of running routes that allows him to get separation from defenders. That’s good, because Crabtree certainly doesn’t have above average speed for a wide receiver.

The good news is that the Ravens front office hasn’t put all of their eggs in the Crabtree basket. They also added Willie Snead and John Brown to their receiving corps this offseason. Neither is a great wide receiver in their own right, but they’re both solidly above average.

Baltimore’s best hope is that Crabtree, Brown and Snead can make up for one another’s deficiencies as a group. On paper, it looks like a trio with a diverse group of skill sets. Crabtree is the big body who can make catches in traffic. Both Brown and Snead are more dependent on speed and elusiveness after the catch to produce big plays.

The key for Flacco will be to make sure he avoids locking in on just one target for an extended period of time. There’s a real possibility he will fall in love with Crabtree and try to force him to be his go-to wide receiver. That could have disastrous ramifications on the Ravens ability to move the football.

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The acquisition of Crabtree can be a valuable piece of fixing the Ravens offense, but he can’t be counted on to change the group’s dynamics all by himself. If Flacco and the Baltimore coaching staff put too much pressure on Crabtree to be the team’s number one wide receiver, they could be set for serious disappointment.