This season for the Baltimore Ravens is a very important season. The team is coming off their second consecutive year of missing out on the playoffs, the third time in four years. However, the team is looking to bounce back after their few failed seasons. For the Ravens to make a return to the playoffs, they are going to need some excellent performances, from a few key players. Tight end Ben Watson, is one of Baltimore’s crucial players who will need to step up this season.
Tight End Ben Watson was supposed to be a player who rescued the Ravens from their plight of having too few good tight ends on the roster in 2016. To get the veteran tight end, the Ravens had to pay Watson $7 million over two years. Much excitement surrounded Watson’s arrival in Baltimore, however, the hype ended in disbelief. During a preseason game against the Lions, Watson tore his Achilles. This injury left the Ravens’ tight end group in peril, with inexperienced players leading the way. However, veteran tight end Dennis Pitta was able to come off a major hip injury and lead the way for the group. This gave the Ravens’ tight end corps a leader. However, Pitta dislocated his hip for the third time, prompting the end of his career in football. Now, the tables have turned.
Watson is now the player coming off a major injury, mixed in with a young and inexperienced group of players. With Pitta gone, the Ravens are in desperate need of a tight end who can produce as he did. Besides Watson, the Ravens have Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, and Ryan Malleck at tight end. Among the tight ends, Ben Watson is the only one with substantial experience. The fourth year tight end Crockett Gillmore has shown his potential, but cannot compete with the 14 years of experience Watson has under his belt. For the tight ends group to succeed, Watson will need to play at a very high level.
Watson performing at a high level is a contingent for the Ravens to succeed this season. However, he does not need to be the offense’s or the team’s MVP. The Ravens have a much-improved receivers corps, now including Jeremy Maclin. Watson needs to be a solid compliment receiver in the passing attack. Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, and perhaps Breshad Perriman can carry the rest of the burden in the passing game. If Watson can generate over 600 yards receiving this season, it will be a success for him. He also will need to be a solid blocker for the running game. Baltimore last year had a dismal running attack, and in order to prevent the same situation this year, will need to be able to rely on multiple blockers, including tight ends. Watson has a history of production, however, coming off an injury creates unpredictability. It is impossible to know whether or not Watson will return to his full form, but the Ravens will need him to fill the gap that Dennis Pitta has now left.