I’ll admit, when the Ravens signed Donte Stallworth I was left scratching my head. “I sure hope that he isn’t their answer at wide receiver,” I told fellow Ravens fans. Then Baltimore made a big splash and reached out to Arizona to grab Anquan Boldin. Somewhere, days later, Anita Marks is still doing a victory dance. Yesterday, Jeff Pilson and I talked about the likelihood of Derrick Mason returning to Baltimore and I’ve got to admit, he nailed it. Last night the Ravens signed Mason to a 2 year deal. When I heard the news one thought ran through my mind, “No excuses in 2010.”
In a span of a week the Ravens have gone from “bad wide receiving corps” to “one of the best in the NFL.” Amazing how this league works. This offense has always been driven by a good running game, well except for that one McGahee season.
Joe Flacco has had success in the NFL, but really only had one target to throw to against big time opponents, Derrick Mason. Baltimore’s competitors, and any other good defenses for that matter, quickly figured out the key to beating the Ravens in 2009. Throw on their terrible secondary, cover Derrick Mason. Game. Set. Match.
There’s only so much Ray Rice can do with a swing pass from Joe Flacco while Kelley Washington is covered, Mark Clayton is covered, Derrick Mason is covered, and Demetrius Williams is missing in action.
There are always high expectations for the Ravens. After losing to the Steelers in the AFC Championship in 2008, fans expected a Super Bowl berth from Sophomore Head Coach John Harbaugh and Sophomore QB Joe Flacco. They poured into training camp in August in bigger numbers than the franchise had ever seen. As luck would have it, the Steelers sank like an anvil and the Ravens made the playoffs at 9-7. They even put together a good game against a fierce competitor on the road, the New England Patriots.
But, one playoff win isn’t going to satisfy these fans. Not now, not with the stakes as high as they are. Ozzie screwed up drafting wide receivers, Flacco struggled with out a big target, and Harbaugh let Matt Stover go! All is forgiven if the Ravens put together one hell of a season in 2010.
The stakes are high, can Harbaugh, Flacco and Oz live up to hype the fans are creating this season?
This team has been given opportunities this season to upgrade that they didn't have before. For one, they are not constrained by the cap. Two, Boldin wasn't looking for Larry Fitzgerald money like he was last season (and the Cards were willing to let him go). Three, Donte Stallworth was available for just about free, and four, no one wanted Derrick Mason like we did. All of this was pretty low hanging fruit, and Ozzie did the smart thing in all cases.
The Ravens have a lot more problems than wide receiver, but this goes a long way. It will be nice to recognize the names of our wide receiver and not try to validate why that 6th rounder on the practice squad might eventually become a superstar just so we can feel better about our receivers.
The Ravens have way more problems then WR. It's time to start taking a look at the defensive line and secondary and they need a WR.
I honestly believe that the average fan thinks that this is now a Super Bowl team. While the BSR gang understands they are still a few pieces away from that at the moment. It's a lot of pressure on these three guys and I don't know that they can live up to it.
About midway through last season, the sports talk shows were starting to turn against Flacco and Harbaugh. Was Harbaugh overmatched? Was Flacco TOO complacent?
Then the Ravens finished up the season with the NFL's JV squads and all was good. A playoff win against the Pats and all was foregiven.
The average fans thinks that the WR corps was the missing ingredient in a quest for the Super Bowl. And while it definitely was one of the key ingredients, it was far from the ONLY missing piece. That being said, the pressure is about to ratchet up on both Harbaugh and Flacco this coming season.
The Ravens should be commended for the moves they have made this season and they are a much better team than the one that went down to Indy again last January. Can they fix the other holes on the team, namely the secondary and the d-line and make that leap over the good teams and not just the JV squads? We'll see and I hope so, but the average fans think they're work is done and the are expecting nothing less than a Lombardi Trophy.
That's a ton of pressure.
Baltimore had everything go right for them down the stretch. You've got to think that Pittsburgh will be back next season, which will really make their competition good.
Remember- Pittsburgh also finished 9-7 last season, it was just a series of confusing tiebreakers that made the difference. They will be back, unless Roethlisberger gets into much deeper legal trouble than he is in right now. They didn't exactly fall like an anvil, unless the Ravens did too.
They from Super Bowl champions to 9-7 not making the playoffs. That's a big fall. They'll be back next season though.
And you the fall looks even worse whe you consider that they ad a much softer schedule than the Ravens and that they lost to the Bears, Chiefs, Raiders and Browns. Granted there were some injury issus, especially on defense, but they have more secondary issues than the Ravens do. And who knows what happens with the Big Ben stuff.
I am curious to see who the pundits pick as the team to beat in the AFC North next year.
The Big Ben thing is a whole other issue.
Make no mistake though, the fans are gonna storm training camp and light up the talk shows with huge expectations. They'll need double digit pro bowlers, and MVP, and the Lombardi Trophy to satisfy these fans.
In my book, going from Super Bowl Champs to scuffling and not even making the playoffs is a pretty significant fall.
It sounds like everyone understands there are other issues besides WR the Ravens need to address. Pass rush was needing last season, DB's weren't good, LB's might be alright for one more season but the D needs to be given priority in this seasons draft. This has been a good off season to date, lets just hope we plug up the holes that remain.
Gotta believe that DBs, TE, and one of those famous Ozzie Hybrid LB/DE guys are still top priorities. I forgot, until Mark pointed it out, that two of their DBs are fresh off major knee injuries. I keep hearing how the defense – particularly the defensive backs – improved as the season went on. Sure they did, you and I may be able to play corner versus Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland. This is still a pressing need further exacerbated by the injuries to Webb and Washington.
TE – Heap's better days are behind him. Not to mention that they have no depth at the position.
LB/DE – If Suggs gets his fat a$$ in shape, that would help things. But this line gets little pressure from their interior guys, so they need someone to take the double teams off of Tubby Terrell.
Ngata is a stud, we need one more on the line to make it difficult for offenses, two would be ven better. The LB's aren't in that bad of shape. Lewis, Johnson, Suggs, come on how many good LB's does a team need? This city is used to dominating so people have a difficult time adjusting to today's reality. I understand the pass rush was lack luster but was that due to personnel or scheme? To me, the DB's are the real question mark and the area that needs to be addressed in the draft over anything else.
I like Ngata, but he's not sacking the quarterback. He's a run-stuffer and guy who collapses the line, but he's not getting sacks. Suggs is the only threat that they have to hit the quarterback. Last year he couldn't get his big a$$ in the backfield because he ate Twinkies all offseason and then got injured in Training Camp and never did get in shape. Suggs best two seasons were his first two as he now continually faces double teams. They need another rush end.
I'm with you Pole, I think Ngata is the man on that D-Line. Suggs really needs to earn that salary this year, the defense needs him and he had a bad year in 2009.
Ngata is great at what he does, but he doesn't get after the quarterback. In today's NFL, that is mainly left to the D-ends and/or LBs, not the interior guys.
My boy Pole brought up Ngata and he's a good player, but he's not a guy who gets after the QB.
I understand what he can do and what his role is. My point was that he is solid at his position so they have room to build around him on the D-line. Suggs and Johnson need to take it up a notch and get after the QB. On a previous posting I talked about the defensive scheme. That is my question, did the Ravens not get a pass rush last season because of their lack of talent at doing that or did Mattison's scheme have anything to do it?
I think Suggs coming to camp out of shape and then getting injured basically washed out his year. Johnson is a decent LB/DE, but not great. With Suggs out of the mix, it was just too easy to contain the Ravens pass rush.
Playing the AFC l (east) and NFC south in 2010, if they master the Steelers and Bengals, they might NOT lose a game. Get your Dallas SB tickets because it's on in 2010.
don't count your chickens before they hatch, I'm a die hard ravens fan but they need to get to the QB and they need a blocking TE , hopefully suggs old coach will help get him moving again and kruger plays a role this year he was a good pass rusher in college they should pick up a CB in free agent and address the D in the draft with WR,TE,DT,and safety and ozzie will bring in some good undrafted free agents as always look at ellerbe just to name 1, I think Ozzie will make another move in free agents soon with a CB and maybe TE
I think the Ravens will definitely make moves and CB and Tight End. They certainly need to if they want to be successful. They're a little skimpy on the defensive line too.
As far as QB goes though I think the pressure is on Flacco. He's there guy and they built around him the past couple years.
I think BIG D said they need to "get to the QB"…think he's referring to a rush end/LB.
Ah my mistake. You're absolutely right though. Suggs choked last year, Ngata is solid but doesn't provide enough pressure and that's just not good enough for this defense. They need to get some big guys to provide some pressure. Knock those guys around.
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