Baltimore Ravens: The All-Franchise Dream Team
The months of May and June are definitely the most uneventful months when it comes to NFL news. Sure, maybe once a week a free agent finds a new team or a player gets hurt in workouts. Besides these rare occurrences, players are basically just focusing on offseason workouts and there's just not much news to report.
So with very little actual news going on in the NFL, this time of year is a wonderful time to look back at both the game and your favorite team's history. It's also a great time for speculative exercises like ranking the best players at each position on your favorite team.
So here is the Baltimore Ravens all-franchise dream team. Any player who has played on the team from 1996-2011 is eligible to appear on this 46-man depth chart. I will also include the coaches that I think should be on the sidelines for this team.
*Note* This roster does not include any Baltimore Colts player. While I greatly respect the impact of this franchise to the city, I think that their history now belongs to the Indianapolis Colts. If the Colts still played in Baltimore, the Ravens would have never existed and Cleveland sports would no longer be cursed, as all of these players would have likely played for the Browns.
Quarterback: Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco is the easy pick for the franchise's best quarterback. Along with Kyle Boller, Flacco is one of only two quarterbacks that the Ravens have drafted in the first round with the intention of making the franchise quarterback. Most of the Ravens' other starting quarterbacks have been acquired during free agency or later in the draft.
In only four seasons of play, Flacco owns nearly every franchise record. He has started 64 games (all of them consecutive), passing for 13,816 yards and 80 touchdowns. Every year, he has led the Ravens to a playoff berth and at least one playoff win.
Once the Ravens resign Flacco to a multi-year deal, he will only put a deeper stranglehold on the franchise's quarterback records. Picking him 18th overall in the 2008 NFL draft was the best possible move for a perpetually quarterback-starved franchise like the Ravens.
Any Ravens fan from before 2008 can only nod in agreement, as they remember the dark days when Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright started at quarterback. The list of decent Ravens quarterbacks is a short one, making it difficult for me to find two quarterbacks to back up Flacco on this list.
Backups: Vinny Testaverde, Steve McNair
Ultimately I'm settling for the Ravens' only Pro Bowl quarterback as my backup. That would be Vinny Testaverde, who made a Pro Bowl appearance in 1996 after passing for 4177 yards and 33 touchdowns. It was by far the best year in what mostly a mediocre career for the veteran journeyman quarterback.
The inactive third quarterback is the late Steve McNair. While playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2006, McNair led the Ravens to a franchise-best 13-3 record.
Running Back: Jamal Lewis
Only six running backs have eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards in a season, most of them Hall of Famers. While the jury is still out on Jamal Lewis, no one can deny that his 2003 season ranks among the best in NFL history.
Lewis ran for 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns during this season. While he remained a 1,000-yard rusher for the next four seasons, he never came close to duplicating 2,000 rushing yards. At 10,067 career rushing yards, Lewis ranks 21st in all-time rushing yards.
With inconsistent quarterback play throughout the earlier part of the decade, Lewis was a vital part of the Ravens offense. He logged over 300 rushing attempts in four seasons, including a ridiculous 387 attempts in 2003. His 1,364 rushing yards in 2000 were crucial to the Ravens' Super Bowl title as he was one of the few consistently reliable pieces on that offense.
Backups: Ray Rice, Willis McGahee
It's possible that in a few years Ray Rice could pass Lewis as the franchise's best running back. With two Pro Bowl seasons in the last three years, Rice is only 25 and clearly in the prime of his career. 2011 saw him reach career highs in rushing yards with 1,364, touchdowns with 15 and receiving yards with 704.
Unlike Lewis, Rice has been remarkably durable. He has only missed three games to injury, all of them coming in his rookie season. Therefore, the shifty and speedier Rice would work as a great backup to Lewis on the all-franchise dream team.
Were it not for Rice's breakout, Willis McGahee could have had several special years with the Ravens. With only one 1,000-yard rushing season on the Ravens, McGahee did a commendable job backing up Rice in both 2009 and 2010. His 12 rushing touchdowns as a goal-line back in 2009 ties him for second with Rice for most franchise rushing touchdowns in a season.
Fullback: Vonta Leach
Fullback is as unglamorous a position as any in the NFL. Anyone who plays here must understand that their success will be judged by their blocking and how that translates into rushing yards for the halfback.
Although he's only been with the team one season, Vonta Leach demonstrates that unselfish mentality better than almost any fullback in the entire NFL.
After helping Arian Foster lead the league in rushing for the Houston Texans in 2010, Leach arrived in Baltimore at the start of free agency in 2011. His arrival helped Ray Rice put together his best rushing season ever, with 1,364 rushing yards.
While Leach had 35 rushing yards on 12 attempts, his numbers were unimportant. What was important were the blocks he laid out and the unselfish way he played the game. This puts him ahead of other Ravens fullbacks like Le'Ron McClain, who publicly asked for more carries.
Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason & Derrick Alexander
The underrated and often overlooked Derrick Mason gets the starting wide receiver spot here. Mason leads the franchise in receiving yards with 5,777 receiving yards accumulated during six seasons with the team.
During all of these seasons, Mason started for the team and only in two of them did he fail to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
Mason is the only Ravens receiver to tally more than 100 receptions in a season. This was during the awful 2007 season where Mason had 103 receptions despite the fact that every team knew he was the only semi-decent receiver the Ravens had. With the Ravens, Mason had three seasons of over 80 receptions, as he excelled at getting open and being a security blanket both before and during the Joe Flacco era.
The drop-off after Mason is fairly steep. Like with quarterbacks, the Ravens have been very unlucky drafting wide receivers. Like Mason, our other starting receiver also began his career playing in a different city.
Derrick Alexander played his first two seasons as a Cleveland Brown and then followed the team in their move to Baltimore. In his first season as a Raven, he became one of Vinny Testaverde's go-to receivers, as he had 62 catches for 1,099 yards and nine touchdowns. Alexander followed that up with an equally respectable 65 catches for 1,009 yards and nine touchdowns in 1997.
Those were Alexander's only two seasons with the Ravens, as he moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1998. However, despite only playing two seasons with the team, Alexander is the franchise leader in yards per reception with 16.6. He also has the longest pass reception in franchise history with a 92-yard pass completed against the Seattle Seahawks in 1997.
Backups: Michael Jackson, Qadry Ismail, Jermaine Lewis
Those few souls that were diehard Ravens fans during the miserable 4-12 inaugural season will remember another receiver that Testaverde frequently threw to. This was Michael Jackson, who led the Ravens with 1,201 receiving yards that year. Amazingly, that still stands as the franchise record.
The other two backup receivers were key members on the 2000 Super Bowl team. Qadry Ismail had three solid seasons with the Ravens from 1999-2001, when he scored 18 receiving touchdowns, ranking him second in franchise history.
Jermaine Lewis is a backup more for his special teams skills. However, he played sparingly at receiver for six seasons, including 1998, when he had 784 receiving yards.
Tight End: Todd Heap
For best tight end in Ravens history, the honor fell between two very good players.
The first one was only here for two seasons, yet he carried the Ravens passing game during the Super Bowl season and won three Super Bowls in four seasons. The second one played in Baltimore for a decade and made two Pro Bowl appearances in that time period.
Thanks to a longer body of a work as a Raven, I went with the second tight end, who Ravens fans know and love as Todd Heap. Or, as fans at M&T Bank Stadium fondly regard him: HEEEEEEEAAAAAAAPPP!
Now an Arizona Cardinal, Heap is still sorely missed in Baltimore. He is the franchise's career leader in receiving touchdowns with 41 total. He is also second in receptions with 467 and second in receiving yards with 5,492.
Backup: Shannon Sharpe
Career-wise, Shannon Sharpe is superior to Heap. However, he was only in Baltimore for two seasons. And both of those seasons featured horribly anemic passing games that did not utilize Sharp's talents very well.
Both years, Sharpe had a little over 800 receiving yards. He scored seven touchdowns in those two years, but his most memorable one came in the playoffs. This was an epic 96-yard touchdown that helped the Ravens defeat the Oakland Raiders 16-3 in the 2000 AFC Championship.
Offensive Guards: Edwin Mulitalo & Marshal Yanda
Left guard goes to Edwin Mulitalo, who was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL draft. They got good value out of the pick as Mulitalo started at left guard from 2000-2005.
Injuries prevented Mulitalo from ever starting a full season, but he still played very well alongside future Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden. These two players created a powerful left side on the Ravens offensive line, which seriously helped in the emergence of Jamal Lewis.
Although Mulitalo started more games, the honor of best guard to play for the Ravens has to go to Marshal Yanda. Yanda became a full-time starter in 2007 and he has arguably been the Ravens' best offensive lineman during that span.
Whether he's playing tackle or guard, Yanda excels wherever he goes on the offensive line.
Last year, he finally got some recognition with his first Pro Bowl appearance. With nearly all of the other positions on the Ravens offensive line in transition or dealing with uncertain players, Yanda will have the opportunity to prove his worth.
Backup: Ben Grubbs
Ben Grubbs was also drafted in 2007 and also like Yanda, he started in his rookie season. The main difference Grubbs is no longer in Baltimore, as this offseason he took a pay increase to play with the New Orleans Saints instead.
During his time in Baltimore, Grubbs was the ultimate pro, so it's hard to begrudge him for leaving.
Tackles: Jonathan Ogden & Orlando Brown
For the franchise's first overall draft pick in 1996, the Ravens couldn't have picked a better player. Jonathan Ogden went fourth overall in that draft and he played for the Ravens for the entirety of his 11-year career.
The Ravens needed him to start right away and that's exactly what he did.
His rookie season was the only year Ogden didn't make the Pro Bowl. From 1997-2007, Ogden made 11 consecutive Pro Bowls while being named to the All-Pro team nine times.
Ogden was the perfect blend of size, power and agility. He could run-block well, he could pass-block well and he did not allow many sacks. One of the greatest offensive linemen of all-time, Ogden should make the Hall of Fame next year, which will be his first year of eligibility.
As stated before, Ogden's brilliance helped his fellow offensive linemen. This included the late Orlando Brown, a right tackle who was with the Ravens from 1996-1998 and 2003-2005. Brown earned the nickname "Zeus" for his energetic and intimidating style of play.
The massive lineman was one of the highest-paid offensive linemen during his prime. While not spectacular during his two stints in Baltimore, Brown still played at a solid level and was a crucial part of the Ravens offensive line.
Backup: Michael Oher
It's a shame that for the most part, Michael Oher's career has been overshadowed by The Blind Side movie. Not to take anything away from his amazing story, but Oher himself would probably rather be known for his play on the field.
Still, he did finish second in voting for Offensive Rookie of the Year back in 2009. Oher has been best when he defends the blind side as left tackle.
Hopefully the Ravens can bring him back there, as Oher still has the potential to become one of the Ravens' all-time best offensive linemen.
Center: Mike Flynn
The longest-tenured center on the Ravens, Mike Flynn spent an entire decade in Baltimore. Injuries cut his first three seasons short, but he eventually picked things up and became a reliable starter at the center position for seven of the next eight seasons.
Not bad for a player who was undrafted and alternated between four teams during his rookie season.
Flynn is mostly known for being the leader of the offensive line during the Ravens' Super Bowl season. However, he did stick around for seven seasons and kept starting until Jason Brown took over in 2006. Flynn then remained around for two seasons as a backup before leaving the Ravens in 2007.
Backup: Jason Brown
Brown took advantage of Flynn's injury to start at center in 2006. He then shifted to guard for 2007 before returning to center for the 2008 season. Brown had 44 straight starts on the offensive line before he took a payday to play for the St. Louis Rams in 2009.
Defensive Ends: Rob Burnett & Michael McCrary
The 2000 Ravens defense ranks among the greatest defensive units of all time. So it's not surprising that both of the franchise's best defensive ends played on that team.
Rob Burnett was a carryover from the Cleveland Browns defense, where he made one Pro Bowl. Although he didn't get back to that Pro Bowl level, Burnett did have several great seasons as a Raven.
Burnett totaled 26.5 sacks during his tenure in Baltimore. His best season came in 2000 when he had 10.5 sacks and 40 tackles.
The other defensive end was even more impactful for the Ravens' 2000 defense. Michael McCrary spent five years with the Ravens and during two of them, he was selected for the Pro Bowl. During these two seasons, McCrary had double-digit sacks, including a career-high 14.5 in 1998.
McCrary was only the third player to be instated into the Ravens' Ring of Honor. Along with Burnett and Peter Boulware, McCray is one of three Ravens with over 70 career sacks. He retired in 2003 as one of the most beloved players in franchise history, an impressive accomplishment for someone who was only in Baltimore for five seasons.
Backup: Trevor Pryce
Perhaps the Ravens' second-greatest defensive unit, their 2006 defense was absolutely dominant. They finished first overall in the league thanks to players like Trevor Pryce, who totaled a career-high 13 sacks that season. Pryce also had three more seasons with the Ravens, where, despite fighting injury and age, he still contributed at a high level.
Nose Tackle: Haloti Ngata
At 330 pounds, Haloti Ngata is one of the largest men to have ever played on the Ravens. As nose tackle, his size often works in his favor. Ngata is particular good at stuffing the run and shutting down the opposition's running game.
One of the most complete defensive tackles in the entire league, Ngata is also very athletic despite his massive size. He's made three interceptions over his career and even returned one 60 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006.
It's not a stretch to say that Ngata is the most important player on the Ravens defense today. His ability to take on multiple offensive linemen has to be one of the factors for why Ray Lewis has been so good in the latter stages of his career.
With four consecutive All-Pro selections, Ngata is entering the prime of what could potentially be a Hall of Fame career.
Backups: Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, Kelly Gregg
Running into these guys would hurt more than running head on into a brick wall. Both Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa were nasty players hard hitters who were vital to the success of the 2000 defense.
Kelly Gregg was around longer than Siragusa and Adams, as he spent a decade with the team. During that time, Gregg displayed a blue-collar attitude, as he quietly got 721 tackles, which is the second most in franchise history.
Outside Linebackers: Peter Boulware & Terrell Suggs
This 3-4 defense features two sack specialists in the outside linebacker positions. There's Peter Boulware, who is second in franchise history with 70 total sacks. And then on the other side, there's Terrell Suggs, who is has the franchise record with 82.5 total sacks.
Boulware had nine exceptional seasons with the Ravens, including 11.5 sacks during his rookie season when he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. It was the first of three seasons in which Boulware led his team in sacks.
Boulware was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor in 2006, one year after his retirement. He was a durable player, not missing any games until his seventh season in 2003.
"T-Sizzle," as he is known by Ravens fans, has been playing at a high level for nearly a decade now. He was only 20 years old when he was drafted by the Ravens in 2003. Like Boulware, Suggs won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his first season, as he finished that year with 27 tackles and a franchise rookie record 12 sacks.
He's made five Pro Bowl appearances over his career and is one of the rare players that seems to improve with age. 2011 was his finest season yet, as Suggs had 14 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions. He would go on the win the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award for the 2011 season, becoming the only Raven besides Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to win that honor.
Backup: Adalius Thomas
Like in the 2000 season, Adalius Thomas finds himself backing up Boulware here. Although he started slow, Thomas was brilliant later in his career. He was particularly good from 2004-2006, when he totaled 237 tackles, 28 sacks and four tackles.
Middle Linebackers: Ray Lewis & Bart Scott
From the first draft in 1996 to the offseason workouts now in spring 2012, there has been one constant for the Baltimore Ravens: Ray Lewis, the greatest player in franchise history.
For 16 years now, Lewis has started at middle linebacker for the Ravens. Although he is most known for his fearsome tackling, Lewis has survived nearly two decades in the league by adapting other skills.
Lewis is the only player in NFL history with over 40 sacks and 30 interceptions.
With a NFL record 10 All-Pro selections and an NFL-record 13 Pro Bowl selections, Lewis is a lock to make the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility. His level of play has put him in the conversation for best linebacker of all time with players like Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor and Jack Lambert.
Even though he is no longer in the prime of his career, Lewis is still invaluable to the Ravens defense. He is the general to their army and no one can motivate the troops like Lewis does with his pregame speeches. His relentless mental preparation and study of the game makes him almost like an on-field defensive coordinator for the Ravens, which makes him absolutely irreplaceable.
The other inside linebacker is undrafted free agent Bart Scott. His story is an inspirational one, as he overcame long odds by making it out of a violent and drug-infested neighborhood in Detroit to the starting lineup of the Ravens defense.
For three years, Scott mostly played on special teams. However he took advantage of Lewis's season-ending injury in 2005 and started 10 games that year. By 2006, Scott was a full-time starter and he responded with a career year, getting 135 tackles, 9.5 sacks and two interceptions.
Like many other Ravens defenders, Scott is known for having a loud mouth and for talking a lot of trash. Unfortunately, he is now a New York Jet and it could be argued that his loud mouth outweighs his playing ability.
But if you take Scott in his prime, only Lewis was better at the middle linebacker position for the Ravens.
Backup: Jameel McClain
This may seem premature, but Jameel McClain has made enormous progress over the last two seasons. The franchise leader in safeties, McClain is basically the epitome of play like a Raven. He shuts his mouth and lets his play do the talking.
McClain took over Lewis's responsibilities as defensive play-caller during the four games Lewis missed in 2011. The results were them going 4-0 over that stretch and McClain definitely was a big part of that.
As he's signed for the next three years, McClain could become even more important to the Ravens should Lewis retire during that time span.
Cornerbacks: Chris McAlister & Duane Starks
The Ravens have been blessed to have some of the NFL's most physically gifted cornerbacks on their roster. What's fascinating about these players is that while they were great on the field, many of them have had serious issues off of it.
Chris McAlister is a perfect example of this. He was a three-time Pro Bowler during his nine years with the Ravens, where he developed into an elite cornerback with a knack for causing turnovers. He finished his career in Baltimore with 26 interceptions, which puts him third in franchise history.
McAlister struggled with off-field issues during his time with the Ravens and eventually it seemed to affect his play on the field. During his final two seasons, McAlister is remembered more for being injured and playing inconsistently. This led to a messy breakup when the Ravens finally decided to cut him in 2009.
According to SportingNews, McAlister is broke and hasn't held down a job since he retired from football. It's a shame that his great career had to end like this, but it's clear he was unable to overcome his personal demons. None of this should take away from what he accomplished with the Ravens, especially in the years from 1999-2006.
Duane Starks is the other starting corner for this team and unlike McAlister, he did not have significant off-the-field issues. Despite only playing with the Ravens for four years, Starks was memorable for recording 20 interceptions during that time period. This a remarkable stretch, considering that Starks wasn't even a starter during his first two seasons.
Starks' best season was unsurprisingly the Super Bowl season in 2000. That season, he had 45 tackles with six interceptions. However, likely his best play came in Super Bowl XXXV, where he returned an interception for a touchdown and put the game out of reach for the New York Giants.
Backups: Samari Rolle, Deion Sanders
Two more great cornerbacks that didn't live up to their potential. Samari Rolle only had two years starting at a high level before he began suffering from epilepsy. This eventually caused him to retire in 2010.
Deion Sanders is without a doubt the greatest cornerback to wear a Ravens jersey, as he is the only player on this list to make the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he was only in Baltimore during the tail end of his career and he played only two seasons with the Ravens.
Nevertheless, an old Sanders was still a good one as he got 34 tackles and five interceptions with the Ravens.
Safeties: Ed Reed & Kim Herring
At free safety, the Ravens have another future Hall of Famer. Ed Reed has solidified his place as one of the top defensive playmakers of all time with a total of 13 return touchdowns in his career. He has 1,463 return yards in his career and has scored the longest interception touchdown in NFL history with a 108-yard return against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Reed is the definition of ball hawk, as he frequently baits quarterbacks into making bad throws that he can pick off. His 54 career interceptions are the most of any active player in the NFL today. In three separate seasons, Reed has led the NFL in interceptions.
He's also done well in the postseason. Out of 11 career postseason games, Reed has gotten eight interceptions. His ability to read quarterbacks and jump routes is unparalleled by any other player today.
While he was less of a ball hawk, Kim Herring was very solid during his three years in Baltimore. He was the team's starting strong safety during the Super Bowl season playing alongside future Hall of Famer Rod Woodson.
Herring had four career interceptions while with Baltimore, including one in the Super Bowl. He finished with 48, 47 and 49 tackles, respectively, during his three seasons as a Raven.
Backups: Rod Woodson, Dawan Landry
Woodson is the first Ravens player to make the Hall of Fame. Oddly enough, he spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, only serving a four-season stint with the Ravens. Nevertheless, Woodson was an invaluable leader during the Super Bowl season and only Reed prevents him from starting at free safety on this team.
Reed has had lots of different players line up at strong safety alongside him. Of course, playing with a Hall of Famer like Reed is ideal, so many players thrive in that situation.
That was definitely the case for Dawan Landry, who spent five seasons playing at strong safety. He was a tackle machine, finishing second in tackles to Ray Lewis in both 2009 and 2010. In 2010, he had a career-high 111 tackles.
Kicker: Matt Stover
One of the great clutch kickers of the 2000s, Matt Stover has earned himself a special place among Ravens fans. The third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, all Stover did was make kicks, with 471 career field goals made.
That was invaluable for a Ravens offense that had a run-first identity when Stover played there. With the amazing defense and the power run game, the Ravens offense had the luxury of only needing to score field goals when most teams needed touchdowns.
Stover's best season came in 2000, when he scored all the team's offensive points in a stretch of five games where they couldn't score an offensive touchdown.
In November 2011, Stover was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor. He was only the fifth Raven inducted to that special group, which shows just how important he was to the offense. His 2,004 career points rank fourth in league history, solidifying his place as one of the all-time great NFL placekickers.
Punter: Sam Koch
It's rare that a team actually drafts a punter in the NFL draft. Usually when they do, they're hoping for an immediate investment, since most teams opt to play free agents and undrafted players at punter.
The Ravens got that investment from Sam Koch, their sixth-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft.
Through five years of playing, Koch owns the franchise record in career gross punting average with 43.7 yards a game. His 2010 season was arguably the best, as it saw Koch punt 39 times inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
From 2006-2010, Koch had 149 punts land inside the 20-yard line. That number is second most in the NFL during that time span and first in Ravens annals.
Special Teamers: Jermaine Lewis & Brendon Ayanbadejo
By far the most accomplished Ravens return man, Jermaine Lewis scored 23 touchdowns from 1996 to 2001. Six of these touchdowns came as a punt returner, which was more of what Lewis was known for. Only in the 1998 season did Lewis ever see regular time at the wide receiver position.
But that was fine because Lewis was exceptional as a returner. Oftentimes, his returns energized a weak offense that had trouble scoring. Lewis ended up with two All-Pro selections as well as two Pro Bowl appearances.
With 8,001 all-purpose yards, Lewis led the franchise until 2003. That was when Jamal Lewis had his 2,000-yard rushing season, which gave him the most all-purpose yards in franchise history.
For our special teams ace, Brendon Ayanbadejo gets the call. He's never really done anything at linebacker, with his most starts in a season being two back in 2004 with the Miami Dolphins. Instead Ayanbadejo is known for special teams tackles as his 208 career tackles has mostly come on special teams.
Ayanbadejo is 35 now, but he's still putting up good numbers. He made the Pro Bowl during his first season with the Ravens in 2008. 2011 was arguably a better season though, as Ayanbadejo put up a career-high 35 tackles.
Coordinators: Kirk Ferentz & Rex Ryan
The best offense in franchise history came during the inaugural 1996 season. That year, the offense finished sixth in points scored with 371. It was definitely a bit of an unusual season, as Vinny Testaverde threw for 4,177 yards.
Therefore, the 1996 offensive coordinator Kirk Ferentz would be the coordinator for this team. He was only the coordinator for the 1996 season, but it's a testimony to his greatness that no other Ravens offensive coordinator has had as much success in the 16 years since.
Or maybe it's a testimony to the Ravens' continual offensive ineptitude in that time period.
Moving on to defense, loudmouth Rex Ryan gets the defensive coordinator position. He was very good at it during his time here, particularly in 2006, when the Ravens had the number one defense in both points and yards allowed.
Ryan was defensive coordinator from 2005-2008, although he worked with the team for several years beforehand as an assistant. During his tenure with the team, the defense never ranked lower than sixth overall in the league.
Even now as the New York Jets coach and defensive coordinator, it's obvious that Ryan knows defense well. He knows how to utilize talent and push his players to reach their full potential. This is why I think Ryan would be best suited as a defensive coordinator, then as a coach and especially as a coach in a high-profile city like New York.
Coach: John Harbaugh
Only three men have ever graced the Ravens sideline as head coach. Four years into his coaching tenure, John Harbaugh has proven himself to be the franchise's greatest coach.
Consistent success is extremely important in the NFL and that's what Harbaugh brings to the table. In his four years coaching, the Ravens have made the playoffs each year and won at least one playoff game each time. Every year, Harbaugh has coached them to a winning record and has kept the team motivated as they needed to win out down the stretch every year, whether that was to get a wild card or to clinch the division.
With back-to-back 12-4 seasons, Harbaugh has now coached this particular team to its pinnacle. While it's true that he hasn't yet brought the Lombardi trophy back to Baltimore, he's gotten the team to come heartbreakingly close the last two postseasons. With four seasons where they've been in the NFL's elite eight, it's clear Harbaugh is doing a lot right.
All of this is even more impressive considering Harbaugh's background as a special teams coordinator before being hired as the Ravens head coach in 2008. At the time, the move was viewed as a leap of faith, but it has turned out as likely the best move possible and the real reason why the Ravens are enjoying the most success in franchise history.