Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Willie Snead Has Quietly Been a Fantastic Offensive Addition

October 16, 2018 - 10:43 am

By Joe Schiller

Through six games, the Baltimore Ravens’ passing game has been a complete turnaround from last season.

The unit is currently averaging 293.3 yards per game – a product of high-level play from Joe Flacco and his receivers. Ozzie Newsome deserves a lot of credit for overhauling an old and riddled group, bringing in a fresh new core.

John Brown has posted a breakout campaign to this point and despite struggles, Michael Crabtree bounced back in the best way possible against the Tennessee Titans. He's been a good receiver when he's held onto the football.

But perhaps the most reliable and consistent target has been neither of the aforementioned players.

It’s Willie Snead.

The fifth-year receiver has totaled 313 receiving yards and a touchdown on 30 receptions this season. That’s third behind Brown (424) and Crabtree (343) but Snead’s presence in the slot has been a huge boost for Joe Flacco.

Snead’s ability to find seams and holes in the middle of defenses is a big reason why the Ravens were 12-of-17 on third downs against the Titans on Sunday. His catch on a long third down with the offense backed up in their own territory was a prime example of the skill set he brings to this offense. The Ravens are third in that category this season (46.9%), only behind the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons.

They lacked a tough, gritty wide receiver across the middle of the field last season. Snead has assumed that role and his play has been no surprise to head coach John Harbaugh. 

“You get a hard shell, and that’s the way he played in New Orleans. That’s who he is,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “I have to elaborate. This is a guy that’s been doubted his whole career – high school, college and the NFL – so I’m fine if they keep doubting him.”

The Ravens took a gamble on Snead, signing him to a two-year, $10.4 million deal after a suspension and injury-riddled 2017 season. They bet on the production that saw back-to-back 800+ yard seasons in 2015 and 2016.

So far, it’s paid off.

Snead has totaled at least 49 or more receiving yards in five of six games and is on pace to reach the 800-yard mark again.

Sure, from a fantasy football perspective it might not be pretty, but the Ravens could care less. Having a productive No. 3 receiver makes this offense that much more dangerous through the air and Snead’s contributions cannot be overlooked.

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