A realistic outlook on the 2011-12 Baltimore Ravens

As the regular season inches closer, the jury on how the 2011-12 Baltimore Ravens will finish is starting to emerge.  The first edition of ESPN’s preseason power rankings have the Ravens at No. 9, which looks relatively accurate as it stands right now.  There’s no way of having a spot-on assessment of the team so far considering our only analysis of the team is from training camp.  Even the preseason games won’t give us much of an answer as to how the Ravens will fare in the regular season.  So all we can do right now is guess how they will do using the little bit of information we do have.

I think best case scenario for the Ravens this season is 11-5 and a playoff berth.  Worst case is 8-8, which in the AFC means they miss the postseason.  So naturally I think they finish somewhere in the middle of the best and worst cases, which puts them at 10-6 with a possible playoff berth.  They could easily win the division considering the Bengals and Browns will both probably be below .500 and the Steelers are susceptible to a mediocre season every few years.  But the Ravens outcome this year really falls on how effectively Joe Flacco can lead his young offense.

Flacco has already made it clear to his critics that he is “pretty damn good” and that he is going to let his play on the field speak for itself.  I praise Flacco for taking this step forward as a leader because two years ago he wouldn’t have said this, publicly at least.  It seems as if he is finally ready to build upon his three years of playoff experience and take his team the only place he hasn’t yet, which is the Super Bowl.  Flacco has statistically gotten better every season and in 2011 achieved career-highs in touchdowns (25), yards (3,622) and quarterback rating (93.6).  He also threw a career-low 10 interceptions.

But Flacco as an individual player is the least of my worries.  It’s his supporting cast on the offensive side of the ball that could cause the Ravens to fall in the worst-case scenario category.  Their experienced defense will keep their record respectable (.500 or above), but the inexperience at receiver and tight end and the uncertainty of the stability of their offensive line may keep them from finishing with double digit wins.  Uncertainty is the key word, though.

Matt Birk may not be ready for the season opener after undergoing knee surgery a few days ago, which means two undrafted rookies, Ryan Bartholomew and Tim Barnes, will be vying for the starting center spot.  Another rookie, Jah Reid, will most likely be starting at right tackle, which is another area of uncertainty.  The two tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, are both second-year players with minimal experience.  Dickson is extremely talented, but struggles with blocking at times.  Pitta isn’t nearly as talented as Dickson, but is a solid overall player with great hands and the ability to run-block effectively.

With the departure of veteran Derrick Mason, the receiving corps only has one player with any level of experience.  Anquan Boldin leads a group of young receivers including rookies Torrey Smith and Tanden Doss along with some other mostly unknown guys.  This is an area the Ravens may struggle with early in the season.  But they still have time to bring in someone like Jerricho Cotchery or Lee Evans to add some depth and experience to their receiving core.  If they do or not is yet to be seen.

The backfield looks strong after the additions of fullback Vonta Leach and running back Ricky Williams.  This is surely an upgrade from last season when Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee held the same positions.  The defense should be solid once again with most of the key players returning to anchor one of the consistently best units in the league.  The improved running game and tough defense should allow the Ravens to finish with a winning record and get them at least close to the playoffs.  And if they can learn how to close out games, something they struggled with last season, they will be in much better shape to make a lengthy playoff run.  But as they say, only time will tell.

Submitted by Steve Giles

 

Sports Without Charm. BaltimoreSportsReport.com features fan coverage and analysis of the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Capitals, Maryland Terrapins and Towson Tigers.

9 Comments

  1. BigAlMeinutsich

    August 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    TOO MANY KEY LOSSES FOR THE RAVENS TO WIN A DIVISION TITLE. THIS TEAM IS HYPED UP EVERY YEAR, AND HOW MANY MORE SUPER BOWL RINGS HAVE THE RAVENS GOT SINCE THEIR LAST ONE ALMOST 11 YEARS AGO? NONE!!! NOTHING IS EVER EASY IN THE NFL. YOU SAW THE SUPER BOWL CHAMPS WITH AN 11-5 RECORD LAST YEAR (SAINTS), GET BEAT BY A 7-9 SEATTLE TEAM IN THE PLAYOFFS. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.

  2. Carl

    August 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Ravens are always overhyped. It’s the Jim Jones mentality in Baltimore. They could sign a Tiki Barber and the fans would say “what a brilliant move. We didn’t even pay that much for him. Low Risk!” This Ricky Williams thing is a joke. Ricky “Doobie” Williams and his four drug suspensions, somehow the the groupies follow lock-step with every move the team makes. Wake up Baltimore, you lost your best tight end, your most productive wide receiver, yet the offense is going to improve? How, addition by subtraction?

  3. Buck

    August 11, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Ricky Williams in a great pickup. He has had no problems in the NFL in 4 years -let it go. The problem is Flacco has one receiver. Ozzie needs to get him good targets or it will be unfair to criticize Flacco. If Boldin is injured, then what? I’m not happy with the Ravens’ offseason at all.

  4. jim from dundalk

    August 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Lets face it guys , the real problem is ozzie and the salary cap,,,,,,,,,he has let this team down big time in so many ways the past several years………but he continues to get a free pass , can someone tell me why ?

    • Carl

      August 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      I thought you were jumping ship because you and your alter ego,,,,Spy,,,, were being “censored”?!? That protest lasted, oh, 30 seconds, didn’t it Spy/Jim From Dundalk?

      • Jim from Dundalk

        August 12, 2011 at 9:42 am

        Site ownership begged me to return,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,so one of me did………….

        • Carl

          August 12, 2011 at 11:41 am

          At least you finally confessed the obvious. IDP addresses don’t lie.

  5. Kelley Schley

    August 12, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Hey i think your blog is good ! I found it on Bing. I think i will come back one day soon.

  6. Thom from Dundalk

    August 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Heh .. we’ll give them the late start, the shortened practice time and the pre-season to get their S**T together.
    Then …. the Pittsburgh game should show all the world where they are. If they struggle, I’m sure the B-more media will make the usual excuses for their O-coordinator and his play calling. Cam Camoron is on an extremely hot-seat in my book, but, they’re stuck with him for the whole year. There are some ominous things about this team on offense and I’m not sure the defense can sustain them to the playoffs and beyond. We’ll see … 8^)