Before I discuss the Ravens' 2010 offensive outlook, let's take a peak back at 2009:
The Ravens scored 391 points last year, which tied the 1996 Ravens squad for the best offensive season in team history. They posted 5,619 total net yards, the second-most in franchise history. They had 320 first downs, also the second-highest mark since the team moved to Baltimore.
That was with Derrick Mason as the team's No. 1 wide receiver, Mark Clayton as the No. 2 receiver, and L.J. Smith as the second tight end.
The way things look right now, entering the 2010 season, Mason will be the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart, Clayton will be battling for a roster spot, and Smith...well, he'll take his two-catch season and leave town.
Given the changes made to the offense this offseason, it wouldn't be unfair to assume that the Ravens might be shattering some franchise records in 2010, and making noise around the league as a result.
In the last two and a half months, GM Ozzie Newsome has added a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in Anquan Boldin, a speedy, determined wide receiver in Donte' Stallworth, and three talented pass-catching draft picks in tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and wide receiver David Reed.
The Ravens' offense made strides last year in Flacco's second pro season, posting at least 30 points in a game eight times (including the postseason).
Ray Rice emerged as one of the top young running backs in the game, at times dominating opposing defenses both as a rusher and a receiver; Mason and Todd Heap both had big seasons and became reliable targets for Flacco; Willis McGahee showed he still has some juice in his legs, leading the team with 14 touchdowns; and the offensive line played consistently well all season in both the run game and passing game.
But the unit still had its faults.
Flacco rarely attacked the middle of the field, partly because he didn't have a receiving option that was physical enough to work in that area on a consistent basis. The Ravens' quarterback didn't have great success throwing the deep ball, partly because he struggled with his mechanics, and also because Clayton has failed to live up to his big-play expectations. And because of the Ravens' inability to consistently stretch the field, Ray Rice saw more defenders in the box, at times taking away his ability to work the underneath routes in the passing game.
At least on paper, those problems should be a thing of the past.
Boldin is big, physical, and loves working over the middle. He can grab passes in traffic and is great at picking up yardage after the catch. Stallworth hasn't played in an NFL game in nearly a year and a half, but he still possesses breakaway speed and will go into this season with plenty of motivation to prove he can still play. Dickson and Pitta are two great receiving tight ends that should work the seams, stretch the field, and give Heap some much-needed rest.
Yes, it's only April, and yes, Boldin, Stallworth and the rookies have yet to catch a single pass in a Ravens jersey.
But it's tough to find a hole in this offense right now.
That's not something that could have been said in previous seasons, and it should make for some big numbers in 2010.