Ravens’ offensive start anything but

In recent seasons, game-planning for the Ravens’ offense wasn’t all that complicated - stop Ray Rice and the gears should stall.

Watch Joe Flacco confidently spray the ball around the field now, and it’s clear this unit is far from the same.

Torrey Smith. Anquan Boldin. Dennis Pitta. Jacoby Jones. Vonta Leach. Ed Dickson.

Weapons aplenty, so fantasy football owners can’t be happy owning any Ravens other than Flacco, Rice and sometimes Smith or Boldin. Everyone’s getting involved.

Flacco told reporters the key to the successful vertical game has been “having guys on the outside that can do it. We have that, and so far I’ve been able to hit on a few of them.”

The fact that there was talk about Rice having fewer touches in the early weeks was telling, but not in a controversial way. Rice was never complaining. He has said it himself - he wants the offense to succeed and be the best it can be.

And during a 3-1 start, it sure has been.

The Ravens’ offense - not the defense - ranks second in the NFL entering Sunday’s trip to face the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Baltimore has piled up 424 yards per game, including 310.2 through the air, a total which ranks fourth in the league.

The Ravens stand fifth in the NFL with 30.2 points per contest.

The defensive stats haven’t been quite as good as the team is used to (23rd in total defense), but the Ravens are still limiting opponents to 20.8 points per game (10th in the NFL).

But this is about an offense which has found its groove with a no-huddle, upbeat tempo and usage of both the run and pass. It has been more pass with Flacco ranked third in the league with 1,269 passing yards.

Despite that, Rice still is second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (122.8 per game).

So there’s a lot to like about the Ravens’ offense-centric hot start.

“It’s early. Obviously, if we’re winning, we’re going to feel good about what we’re doing,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron told reporters Thursday. “We’re scoring points. We’ve scored some points, but I think all of our guys would say we haven’t scored as many points as we could have. As long as we’re taking care of the football, those are the stats that are most important to us.

“At the end of the year, you look back and you say, ‘OK, what were you ranked?’ But those are the three that we’re focusing on. If we keep doing those three things, we’re going to be fine. But at the same time, our guys are doing good things. I don’t know what all of our rankings are, to be honest with you. All of our guys would agree (that) we have not played our best offensive football yet. We haven’t played as well as we’re going to play. We think we’re an improving offense. Early in the year, I think that’s the important thing, that we just keep getting better no matter what we were ranked. That would be our same approach.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis is happy to see the offense be a bigger, if not the bigger part of the team’s success this year.

“I think when you look at the balance with what we have, it’s kind of what’s becoming more exciting than anything,” Lewis told reporters. “You look at how we can go into games, and you make a big stop as a defense, and then your offense can come in and instantly put three points, instantly put seven points (on the board). That puts pressure on people instantly.

“The good teams have that balance. And for us to have that this year, I think all sides - not just the defensive side - I think the offensive side appreciates it as well.”