Cystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
One of the Ravens' weaknesses in the 2012 regular season was the passing defense. While not awful, the unit finished 17th in the NFL with 228.1 passing yards given up per game.
Those are middle-of-the-pack numbers, but for a Ravens team that prides itself on defense, those numbers look pretty bad. There are excuses, of course, with the glaring one being the season-ending injury of Lardarius Webb, one of the best young players on the Ravens defense.
Webb's return is going to be huge for the defense since, when healthy, he is by far the best corner on their roster. Of course, it's not a given that Webb will be the same player since he's coming off a serious ACL injury.
If he isn't healthy, the Ravens will need improved play from the other starter. Right now that's looking like it could be Corey Graham or Jimmy Smith, with free agent Cary Williams potentially leaving in free agency.
The other huge issue is the future of Ed Reed. He's one of the best players in franchise history, and it's safe to say that every Ravens fan wants him resigned so he can finish his career in Baltimore.
The harsh reality is that Reed is 34 years old and his best days are behind him. A shoulder injury caused him to struggle throughout 2012, and he ended a six-year streak of making the All-Pro team.
Reed's reputation does precede him, though, and it could be strong enough that he uses it to get a big payday from another team. His decision will likely come down to his loyalty to Baltimore or to how much he believes he deserves top money.
As of now, a declining Reed is probably still better than any free safeties on the Baltimore roster. Sean Considine isn't a starting-caliber safety at this point in his career. And Christian Thompson is only in his second season and hasn't yet shown that he's ready to start.
Reed's upcoming decision will set the tone for this secondary. Either he will be back captaining them, or someone like Webb or Bernard Pollard will take that role. Either way, the Ravens secondary are going to need to improve their play from their disappointing 2012 regular season.