Ravens Roundtable Debate

Baltimore Ravens Observations
Joe Flacco

Ravens writers for Fanspeak Matt Pearce and Alan Zlotorzynski debate some key Ravens questions for this season:


1. Can Joe Flacco live up to his big contract this season?        Joe Flacco

His contract makes him the third highest paid player in the NFL which leaves two ways to live up to his contract this season: be a top three quarterback or win the Super Bowl again.  He isn’t one of the top three quarterbacks in the league and it is very, very hard to repeat as a Super Bowl champion so I’m going to say he won’t live up to his contract this season.

When you look at the QB’s making Flacco money, Brees, Manning, Rodgers and now Matt Ryan, he simply doesn’t compare with what they do consistently every week. With that said, they don’t live up to his expectations come playoff time. If winning a Super Bowl and having a chance to win a playoff game every year is worth $120 million, then he  lives up to the deal. Flacco is a winner and he’s durable. I’d take the above QB’s on my fantasy team any day over Flacco but if I had to win a playoff game on the road, It’s Joe Cool all day long.


2. Of the key losses on offense – Birk, Bolden & Pitta, which will be the hardest to replace?

Last season, Dennis Pitta emerged as Flacco’s favorite target in the passing game and was primed to have an even bigger year this season.  Pitta will be missed the most on third downs as Flacco would always look for Pitta in those situations.

I am going to go with Dennis Pitta. The Ravens were prepared to move on without Bolden and were willing to experience growing pains with Geno Gradkowski but the offense was going to look different this season with Pitta & Dickson. The Ravens quite honestly were going to run a scheme similar to what the Patriots ran but place more emphasis on the run. Now, it’s back to Vontae Leech and the two back set.



1. With the loss of veteran leaders like Ray Lewis & Ed Reed, who will emerge to fill that leadership role on defense?

Terrell Suggs has already taken over as the defense leader at practice and in meetings.  Look no further than Suggs taking Lewis’ spot of being introduced last with the defense during pre-game introductions.

I don’t think one guy is capable of filling the great 52’s shoes. It will likely be a combination of players. Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are the likely candidates, with Daryl Smith, if he stays healthy, chipping in.

2. Between defensive line, linebackers and secondary, which one is the biggest concern for how they’ll perform?

For me, this is the secondary.  At safety, there will be two new starters in Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo or Matt Elam.  At cornerback, the only sure thing is Corey Graham as Lardarius Webb is coming off an his second torn ACL and Jimmy Smith has been up and down as usual.

I would say the secondary to start. The Ravens have a stout rotation and plenty of depth in their front seven. Lardarius Webb will need a few games to get back to where he was before the ACL tear—Jimmy Smith isn’t playing well and how long the Ravens can count on Corey Graham as a full time starter remains to be seen. At the safety, there has been a lack of communication during the preseason, which has led to some big plays but eventually, Huff. James Ighdebdo and rookie Matt Elam will solidify the back half.


1. How reasonable is it to expect the Ravens to repeat?

The last time a team repeated as Super Bowl champions was the New England Patriots in Super Bowls 38 and 39 which is eight years ago.  No Super Bowl winning team has had as much roster turnover as the Ravens have had but that can be taken as a good or a bad thing.  In the end, the Ravens won’t repeat but, they will be a playoff team this year.

I certainly do not think it is out of the question for this team to repeat. If not for a Lee Evans dropped pass and Billy Cundiff missed kick, the question would read “Three-peat”. This is a team that is blessed with a great coaching staff, even better front office and quality talent on the field. Selling the Ravens short would be a huge mistake. They were the first team to win a Super Bowl losing four of five to close a season and are the first SB Champions to incur this much turnover—-If any team can do it, the Ravens can.

2. Last year the offense carried the team. What unit will be the stronger side this season?

This offseason, the offense has gotten weaker with the losses of Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta while the defense has gotten stronger with the additions of Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, Daryl Smith, Michael Huff and others.  Therefore, I am going to say the defense will be the stronger of the two units this season, like it has been for most of Ravens’ history.

The defense. Considering the issues the Ravens have at WR and the inconsistency of Joe Flacco during the regular season at times, the defense will be back to top 8 form. Funny isn’t  it, the more things change—the more they stay the same.



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