We caught up with our friends at the Ebony Bird blog to catch up and ask them about former Coug Dennis Pitta. Expectations are high this year in Baltimore and Pitta looks to be an integral part of their success. Be sure to follow @Ebony_Bird on Twitter all year to keep tabs on Pitta as he guns for another Super Bowl ring.
How high are the hopes for Dennis Pitta going into this year?
The Ravens and their fans have huge expectations for Dennis Pitta this season. He has already proven to be a key cog in the offense since joining the team, but the addition of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak raises the bar even higher. Kubiak’s zone read offense is known for heavily featuring tight ends, especially in the passing game. Pitta is going to line up all over the field this season, and has already taken snaps at wide receiver and running back in addition to tight end during training camp.
Pitta was one of the greatest in BYU history and is still a huge fan favorite, what do Ravens fans generally think of Pitta?
Ravens fans love Dennis Pitta. He has proven to be a great all around tight end and a valuable part of the team. Pitta is actively involved in the local community, including charity events and youth football camps. He also avoided the grievance hearing that fellow tight end Jimmy Graham recently took when signing his contract extension back in February. Pitta instead took a team friendly deal, which was a big deal in the eyes of fans.
Is it accurate to say that the loss of Pitta for most of the year last year contributed to Joe Flacco’s lower numbers last year?
The loss of PItta for most of last season was a big part of Joe Flacco’s regression. Pitta has always served as his security blanket and one of the highest targeted players on the team. The offensive line was the main culprit of what turned out to be a bottom 3 NFL offense last season after finishing in the top 10 the two years prior. But Pitta’s absence left Flacco with essentially no one to throw to underneath when the pressure was on him.
What part of Pitta’s game does he need to work on in order to become an elite-level tight end? Is that even possible?
Pitta most definitely has the natural ability to be an elite-level tight end. In fact, he is easily top ten (maybe even top 5) in the NFL right now at what is a fairly shallow position, talent wise. He has improved each season and is expected to make a major leap forward in 2014. While he may not be a threat to Jimmy Graham as the absolute best tight end in the NFL, one can easily make a case that he is an elite option among the current group. Pitta lacks the elite athleticism that Graham or Vernon Davis possess, but he can still compete with them statistically based on usage.
Would you put Pitta on your fantasy team?
I haven’t drafted in any of my leagues yet, but Pitta will be among my top targets at the tight end position. The drop off between first and second tier tight ends in fantasy is huge, and there aren’t enough to fill a 12 team league. Jimmy Graham is going to go in the first round in most drafts, which is a bit too steep for me. Pitta is coming off the board between the sixth and ninth rounds of drafts, which I think is excellent value. He has the potential to blow up in Gary Kubiak’s offense, as previously noted, but a lot of people are sleeping on him after last year’s injury.
What are some realistic expectations for both Pitta and the Ravens this upcoming season?
It is very realistic to expect a career year, statistically speaking, this upcoming season. Pitta’s numbers have improved each year, taking into account his missed time last season. His career high came in 2012′s Super Bowl season, where he had 61 receptions on 93 targets for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns. That would be the floor for 2014, and we could easily see him approach 800+ yards receiving with 8+ touchdowns.
The Ravens are pretty much universally ranked in the top 12 in most preseason power rankings and have a great shot at winning their division this year, at the very least. They have a realistic shot at another Super Bowl if they show great improvement on offense, which they have so far. The biggest obstacles they face are a dominant Denver Broncos team and perennial favorites, the New England Patriots. We would be shocked if the Ravens didn’t at least win their division or make the playoffs.