Dennis Pitta and Joe Flacco: Shades of Dallas Clark and Peyton Manning?
The 2012 season answered the Ed Dickson vs. Dennis Pitta conundrum in Baltimore. The two tight ends were drafted in the third and fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, respectively, but unlike the Aaron Hernandez-Rob Gronkowski pairing in New England, the two have yet to form a symbiotic relationship. Heading into 2012, it was unclear how targets would be divvied up, but from Week 1 forward Pitta was the man. Dickson was not targeted more than five times in any game until Week 16, when the Ravens rested starters in preparation for the playoffs. During the regular season, Pitta garnered 93 targets from Joe Flacco for 61 receptions, compared to 33 and 21 for Dickson.
Pitta's presence in the passing game is only expected to get stronger. Reports out of minicamp say that Pitta is currently Flacco's favorite target. It helps that the two are best friends off the field, and that Anquan Boldin's defection to San Francisco should open up even more targets for a sure-handed intermediate threat. Perhaps most importantly, Jim Caldwell is entering his first full year as offensive coordinator. That's the same Jim Caldwell that oversaw the Peyton Manning-Dallas Clark connection in Indianapolis, one of the greatest quarterback-tight end tandems the game has ever seen.
If we ignore the disaster that was the 2011 Colts, there is a strong trend of tight ends thriving under Caldwell. Whether Pitta is in store for a Clark-like emergence remains to be seen, but Flacco is a good, tall, strong-armed Manning corollary and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will likely give Caldwell free reign to run the offense. After all, Harbaugh rode with Cam Cameron and his sometimes drastically shifting week-to-week game plans for almost four seasons.
Pitta's star has been on a steady rise since entering the league, and all signs point to a potential coming-out season in 2013. Even in a league that has become tight-end-happy in recent years, Flacco and Pitta could be fashioning themselves as one of the best tandems in some time.
More from SB Nation:
This article originally appeared on SBNation.Click here for the full article »