View Full Version : Offseason Primer: Baltimore Ravens

01-19-2008, 12:12 PM
Brian Billick is out. John Harbough is in. I think this is an interesting choice for the Ravens, as heís never even been a coordinator in the NFL, and heís spent the past 10 years as a position coach. I think the Ravens are really going out on a limb here. He never has been a head coach at any level. He also faces a ton of offensive problems, and heís a defensive-minded coach.

One certain problem is what to do at quarterback. Steve McNair is old and fragile. Kyle Boller just isnít going to cut it in Baltimore, and probably needs a change of scenery. Can Troy Smith really be the guy? He is a talent, but heís a little undersized and doesnít have a big arm. Can he manage an offense? The questions about Boller and Smith have to be answered before the draft, because sitting where they are, they have a good shot at picking up Andre Woodson, Matt Ryan or Brian Brohm at No. 8. Can they afford to spend another pick on a quarterback?

Willis McGahee had a great year. Still 26 years old, and finally out of Buffalo, McGahee ran for over 1,200 yards in 15 games. He had seven touchdowns, a respectable number, but for a team with little to no passing game, they need more. Heís definitely the running back for a few years to come for the Ravens. Heís a tough runner that has good speed, and after all of the injury questions surrounding him coming into the league, heís now only missed three games in the last three seasons. Mike Anderson, a former 1,000 yard rusher with the Broncos is a capable backup. Musa Smith is probably gone, as he is a free agent.

Rookie fullback LeíRon McClain is a fulltime block back, and at 260 pounds is a real load. Look for him to be McGaheeís escort for a long time to come.

When Todd Heap went down, the Ravens lost their most productive receivers and one of the premier tight ends in the game. The Ravens will be in much better shape if he can return fully healthy next season. He is still just going to be 28 years old, and has a lot left in him. Quinn Sypniewski stepped in for Heap, and he isnít the receiving threat that Heap is, but he is a solid tight end.

Derrick Mason had a career year, catching 103 passes for 1,087 yards and five touchdowns. However, Mason will be 34 next season and will be entering his fourth season as a Raven. Can he still be the top receiving threat to take the pressure off the running game? I think he can, but he needs some help. Opposite of him is Mark Clayton, a fast receiver entering his fourth season out of Oklahoma. Heís not very physical, and caught just 48 passes this season. He needs to step up his production to take the pressure of Mason. The return of Heap will help. The Ravens need a third receiver. Demetrius Williams caught just 20 passes this season, and the third, fourth, fifth and sixth leading receivers were not wide receivers, and one of them played in just six games (Heap). There are free agents out there, but I wouldnít be surprised if they went after a wide receiver in the draft. If they donít choose quarterback, Limas Sweed, out of Texas will be available at No. 8.

Jonathan Ogden has been the anchor of the Ravensí line for 12 seasons. Heíll be 34 next year, and he missed five games this season. Heís still the top option for the Ravens at left tackle, and they need him to be as consistent as ever, as they either try to protect an aging quarterback, or a young, inexperience quarterback. Heís also an effective run blocker, as the Ravens ranked eighth in YPC off the left end.

Next to Ogden is Jason Brown, who will be entering his fourth year. The fourth round selection in 2005 started all 16 games this season, but he needs to be more consistent. If he is more consistent, the Ravens could have a great left side of the line. Mike Flynn will be entering his 11th season for the Ravens, as he has also been an anchor for the line. But, heíll be 34 next season. Can he still hold up to the beating?

First round selection Ben Grubbs has a lot of pressure on his shoulders at right guard. The Ravens selected him at No. 27 in the 2007 draft, and they expect him to blossom into the anchor of the offensive line in the future. Grubbs is 6-3, 315, and is a good run blocker. Can he keep up in the passing game and protect the quarterback? He started 12 games this season, and will be the starter heading into next season. Rookie Marshal Yanda lines up next to Grubbs at right tackle. The third-round selection needs to be more consistent, as the Ravens struggled running to his side. The Ravens have an excellent outlook on the right side of the line with two rookies, but they will need to step up, to help out the aging vets on the left side.

The Ravens still have a top-ten defense, but it is not what it used to be. The Ravens have played the 3-4 for a while now, but what will Harbaugh do with the defense? Thatís a big question. The Eagles were a 4-3 team, so will he switch the Raven defense up? According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are trying to retain Rex Ryan, so youíd assume they stay in a 3-4.

Along the defensive line, the Ravens have a two young defensive ends that can really make impacts on games in Dwan Edwards and Haloti Ngata. Ngata is a force, and will only be 24 next season. He had 63 tackles from the defensive end position, which is what a 3-4 needs in trying to defend the run. Edwards is most likely the starter next season, as well, as he had 41 tackles this season, and has the ability to drop into coverage as well. Kelly Gregg is a good nose guard, but heíll be 32 next season. This year, he had 80 tackles and three sacks. He clearly can clear the path for Ray Lewis, and I would imagine heís back next season.

Ray Lewis is no longer the dominate force that he was when the Ravens won the Super Bowl eight years ago, but heís still one of the best linebackers in football. He led the Ravens with 120 tackles, and he can still fly all over the field, as he had two sacks and two interceptions and 10 pass deflections. Bart Scott is a solid linebacker next to Lewis, and entering his seventh season, he will be asked to step up a little bit more next season, especially if Lewisí skills really do start to decline. Nick Greisen is a solid backup inside.

Outside, Terrell Suggs is a solid backer in the 3-4. He had five sacks and six pass deflections and is the versatile type of player the Ravens need, plus, he hasnít missed a game entering into his sixth season. Opposite of him, Jarret Johnson finally got his chance to start, starting in every game for the Ravens. His production needs to go up a little however, as he had just two sacks and 58 tackles. Antwan Barnes also may see some time at outside linebacker, as fourth-round selection enters his second season next year.

Ed Reed and Dawan Landry might be the best safety combo in the league. Reed is an absolute ball hawk as he hauled in seven interceptions, knocked down 13 passes and picked up two fumbles. To complement him is the big-hitter Landry. Entering his third season out of Georgia Tech, Landry is the hard-hitting safety that can help stop the run, and allow Ray Lewis to freelance. He had 82 tackles in 2007, and the Ravens will be looking for more out of him next year.

The Ravens stud cornerback, Chris McAlister, played in just eight games this season, and will be entering his 10th season next year. If healthy, McAlister is a physical cornerback that has shut-down ability. Journeyman Corey Ivy started 13 games for the Ravens at corner, but had just one interception. Second-year corner Derrick Martin filled in some at cornerback, and had two interceptions and 40 tackles. The Ravens really need a healthy McAlister to come back. The Ravens rely on turnovers, and need to get more from their cornerbacks, to help set up a mediocre offense with a short field.

Matt Stover, if he decides to return, would be entering into is 20th season kicking for the franchise. He was still a solid kicker in 2007, and I would expect he would return in 2008. Sam Koch will be entering his third season as the punter for the Ravens. Yamon Figurs, the rookie speedster out of Kansas State is a good return option for the Ravens, and allows McAlister to not have to return.

01-20-2008, 09:54 AM
Nice work MB - can't wait for more of these.

01-20-2008, 02:27 PM
Ravens suck!

Oh, wrong thread...sorry, MB.

Great read though - like all of em so far.

Esp. nice since the Raven appear to be in 'decline...'

Cleveland Rocks
01-20-2008, 03:53 PM
Ravens suck!


01-21-2008, 01:48 AM
Are we painting the Ravens? Is that the need for primer?

01-21-2008, 08:23 AM
Are we painting the Ravens? Is that the need for primer?

Yeah, those frickin' purple unis are gawd-awful.

01-21-2008, 09:26 AM
Or did he mean premier?

01-21-2008, 09:26 AM
Or did he mean premier?

Premier and Ravens don't go in the same sentence. Except I just put them int he same sentence, but yeah, something like that.