Jacoby Jones doesn't need to be a star to give the offense the extra weapon it sorely missed in 2011. Here's a stat line for you: Lee Evans, the team's heralded late-summer acquisition a year ago, was targeted 26 times in the 2011 regular season and only mustered four catches for 74 yards. I'm not pointing this out to kick Evans after he got chased out of town, though I'm sure most of you wouldn't mind. The point is that the Ravens got next to nothing from wide receivers without the surname Smith or Boldin last season. Throw in four catches by LaQuan Williams while Evans was sidelined, and the Ravens got just eight catches for 120 yards from their No. 3 wide-out. A few weeks ago, I spoke with the great Greg Cosell from NFL Films. I asked him to critique Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, but Cosell respectfully declined. While doing so, he said it's hard to evaluate coaches sometimes, because they can only work with the players that are given to them. Cosell then pointed out that they clearly sought out Jacoby Jones for a reason. Jones seduced Houston Texans fans early in his career with his speed, athleticism and potential, but expectations were too high; they wanted him to be the next Andre Johnson. He struggled with drops and, in his words, immaturity, but he feels blessed to be in Baltimore now. He won't have to be a star here, though I'm sure the Ravens wouldn't mind if he developed into one. If he can give the Ravens, let's say, 40 catches for 600 yards and a few touchdowns, that will go a long way. With three catches for 46 yards against the Bengals -- including two that moved the chains on third down -- Jones is on pace to do just that (I know, I know, it's a small sample size). The bigger impact will be that opponents will have to worry about both Jones and Torrey Smith stretching the field on both sidelines when the Ravens are in three-receiver sets. That will open up the middle of the field for Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice and the two young tight ends. That's what happened Monday night, with Smith and Jones averaging 20.6 yards per catch combined. "One thing you see with our offense, we're explosive," said Rice, who rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. "I think this is the fastest group we've had since I've been here." And given that there hasn't been much turnover at the skill positions from this season to last, you have to think Jones' fleet feet might have a little something to do with Rice thinking that.
Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times