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You remember the 2008 Bengals, don’t you? Remarkably, that Cincinnati team was led by two quarterbacks still in the league: Carson Palmer started the first 4 games (all losses) before elbow issues caused him to shut things down for the rest of the year. From there, a young Ryan Fitzpatrick took over, leading the team to a 4-7-1 record the rest of the way.

Cincinnati had some talented weapons at wide receiver. T.J. Houshmandzadeh had led the NFL in receptions in 2007, and in 2008 he still had another 92 receptions. Chad Johnson had just come off his fifth straight Pro Bowl season, but the ’08 year was the beginning of the end for the man once known as Ochocinco. Chris Henry, who had been a big play receiver the past few years in Cincinnati, was reduced to a possession player in this offense in ’08.

The offensive coordinator was longtime coach Bob Bratkowski, who manned that role in Cincinnati from 2001 to 2010. But the 2008 season was very different. The Bengals averaged just 8.83 yards per completion, the single lowest output in NFL history. On a team with two longtime NFL quarterbacks and two Pro Bowl wide receivers, Cincinnati somehow couldn’t manage to push the ball down the field with any sort of consistency. The longest reception of the year was a 79-yard completion to… running back Cedric Benson! Johnson and Henry combined for 72 receptions, but none of them went for more than 26 yards.

So why am I bringing up the 2008 Bengals? Well, the 2017 Dolphins (through 5 games) and 2017 Ravens (through 6 games) are both averaging just 8.5 yards per completion. Yes, those gunslingers formerly known as Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco are running two of the most anemic passing attacks we have ever seen.

Here’s the breakdown on the Miami side:

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Yds
Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch%
14 Jarvis Landry 25 WR 5 5 57 38 272 7.2 2 18 7.6 54.4 66.7%
11 DeVante Parker 24 WR 4 4 28 19 236 12.4 1 31 4.8 59.0 67.9%
10 Kenny Stills 25 WR 5 5 24 14 163 11.6 2 29 2.8 32.6 58.3%
89 Julius Thomas 29 TE 5 5 21 12 108 9.0 0 23 2.4 21.6 57.1%
26 Damien Williams 25 5 0 8 5 33 6.6 0 13 1.0 6.6 62.5%
23 Jay Ajayi 24 RB 5 5 12 7 23 3.3 0 8 1.4 4.6 58.3%
19 Jakeem Grant 25 5 0 4 3 15 5.0 0 12 0.6 3.0 75.0%
32 Kenyan Drake 23 5 0 5 3 7 2.3 0 4 0.6 1.4 60.0%
Team Total 25.4 5 164 101 857 8.5 5 31 20.2 171.4
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/21/2017.

For Baltimore, the outlook isn’t any prettier:

Rushing & Receiving Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
No. Player Age Pos G GS Tgt Rec Yds
Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch%
17 Mike Wallace 31 WR 6 5 27 15 239 15.9 1 54 2.5 39.8 55.6%
82 Ben Watson 37 TE 6 6 30 24 176 7.3 1 23 4.0 29.3 80.0%
18 Jeremy Maclin 29 WR 5 5 28 16 159 9.9 2 48 3.2 31.8 57.1%
37 Javorius Allen 26 6 0 28 23 114 5.0 1 14 3.8 19.0 82.1%
86 Nick Boyle 24 TE 6 5 14 12 97 8.1 0 14 2.0 16.2 85.7%
12 Michael Campanaro 26 6 0 14 9 60 6.7 0 13 1.5 10.0 64.3%
10 Chris Moore 24 3 0 8 3 44 14.7 0 17 1.0 14.7 37.5%
39 Danny Woodhead 32 1 0 3 3 33 11.0 0 13 3.0 33.0 100.0%
87 Maxx Williams 23 te 3 2 6 6 32 5.3 0 13 2.0 10.7 100.0%
11 Breshad Perriman 24 wr 6 1 18 4 26 6.5 0 13 0.7 4.3 22.2%
13 Chris Matthews 28 6 0 6 3 25 8.3 0 12 0.5 4.2 50.0%
28 Terrance West 26 RB 5 4 4 2 23 11.5 0 15 0.4 4.6 50.0%
38 Bobby Rainey 30 1 0 2 2 11 5.5 0 6 2.0 11.0 100.0%
Team Total 26.1 6 191 122 1039 8.5 5 54 20.3 173.2

Early in the year and with small sample sizes, you would expect to see some historical outliers. And I imagine both the Ravens and Dolphins will finish the year with at least a 9.0 yards per completion average. But the fact that both are currently breaking the record for lowest YPC average in NFL history in late October is pretty telling. And if you can’t figure out what it’s telling, let me give a hint: chasing the 2008 Bengals isn’t a good thing.

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  • Imagine what happens to the Ravens if they lose Mike Wallace and his nearly 16 ypc.
    Okay, don’t imagine it. It’s . . . somehow scarily boring.

    • Wolverine

      Whenever the Ravens offense is on the RedZone channel, I take the opportunity to chat with my wife (so she doesn’t think I’m completely ignoring her when football is on), fold some laundry, or pack my lunch for work the next day.

  • After 7 weeks, the Ravens are now averaging 8.2 yards per completion! This is in part due to Javorius Allen having 8 catches for just 29 yards on Sunday. Ben Watson led the team with 38 receiving yards on 5 receptions.

    • Richie

      Dolphins now up to 9.4 thanks to Matt Moore. (Actually, even Cutler had 11.5 against the Jets this week.)

      The way Brett Hundley is going (7.9), he may get the Packers on this list.

  • Deacon Drake

    Flacco has stunk for a long time, and the Ravens seem committed to allowing him to stink for as long as possible. Even his 2014 spike was buoyed by one or two big halves (I remember him throwing like 6 TDs in a half against TB).

    Cutler should be entertaining us in the booth, not the field, and the Dolphins will probably “excel” with Matt Moore back there. I can’t wait for these teams to play next week! 13-12!

    • Richie

      Flacco would cost $28M against the cap next year if they cut him. I guess it’s a sunk cost, so they may be better off to just cut him or bench him and give an inexpensive guy a shot.

      Flacco has an ANY/A of 3.35. If he keeps that up, he will have the worst ANY/A (min 400 attempts) in a season since David Carr’s 3.24 in 2002. Only 7 players since the merger have had an ANY/A of 3.5 or less. http://pfref.com/tiny/PGy49