Keep Joe Flacco Healthy and focus. Flacco was unbelievable in the playoffs and it was something not everyone can do all the time. It was a combination of opponents and the league not taking Flacco very seriously like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. It is understandable because Flacco was not consistent during the 2012 season. In order to see the best of Joe Flacco is to have a consistent offensive line and running game to dictate to Flacco style of quick passes and long balls with play action plays.
Young talents added on defense, means more speed and talent to compliment a veteran defensive squad. Last year Terrell Suggs was coming back from a major injury and he was not his dominate self for the whole season, so it is safe to expect him to naturally return to his dominate form again. Do not underestimate the signing of Elvis Dumervil which seems to be going under the radar for now. Ravens might compensate for their lost in the secondary (primarily Ed Reed) but strengthen the defensive line. Ravens address their run defense with Canty and Spears added to the depth at defensive end, which allows them, if reports are to be believed, to move Haloti Ngata inside more. And that in turn, along with the drafting of the nose tackle, Brandon Williams, will at worst limit Terrence Cody’s snap count. Defensively that was one of the biggest areas I felt they needed to improve, with Cody just being pushed around far too much for a guy his size and not doing enough to occupy blocks.
No off-season and in-season distraction. Ride the momentum. The key to the ravens winning it all last year was the inspiration and Cinderella story that brought the team together when Ray Lewis announced his retirement. In sports you cannot underestimate how essential for teams to have great chemistry within all players on the team to allow everyone freedom to play to their potential and high standards.
The offense: it lost a leader in Anquan Boldin and the Raven historically never really had good receivers. They have a solid number two in Torrey Smith but he is not a game changer like Calvin Smith or Larry Fitzgerald. They may not need pro bowler receivers but they need a solid cast of receiver because they cannot always rely on their young talent of tight ends. They struggle on offense last season until during the end of the season and not much was done to improve the unit. Ray Rice is a beast but still, the Ravens’ running game was inconsistent last season. It is worrisome that the Ravens were only 20th in the league in sacks given up; at 38.While the Ravens’ offense clearly works best with a healthy dose of Ray Rice, which depends on being able to run the ball successfully. Too many carries have gone for one or two yards, setting up the offense with third-and-long situations. They ravens did not really do much to their offensive line to improve when they unit was not really the best unit in the league.
Keep an eye on the offensive line during training camp because of the team’s decision to keep that group together. A good offensive line is a quarterback’s and running back’s best friend. Re-signing veteran bookend Bryant McKinnie assures that both offensive tackle and guard spots will look the same for better chemistry among the group. The only new face will come at center, where Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley will battle to replace the retired Matt Birk.
“The curse” that follows all championship teams the following season with the exception of the 2003, 2004 Patriots, they struggle to return to the playoffs. Most super bowl winning teams suffer from high expectations, uncharacteristic injuries, and season long distractions.
Identity: It is impossible to replace the lost of outstanding leader in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Ray Rice is a good leader but he does not control the fans, the spirit, and pride like Lewis. The identity was always their defense but never on offense. There is a feeling that the Ravens will take a step back this season on defense due to the moving parts but they will be an X-Factor for the team because of the talented defensive mind of Dean Pees. It might take a while for the Ravens to find their identity.