Baltimore Ravens: A Few Random Thoughts For The Upcoming Season
1) The Ravens need to get a higher seed to help playoff chances.
It's been great that the Ravens have made the playoffs the last two years, but these fans deserve a home playoff game.
Add this fact to the seemingly inevitable match-ups with teams like Indy, Pittsburgh, and San Diego if the Ravens do make the playoffs. With all three of those teams being primarily passing teams and Indy playing in a dome and San Diego playing in sunny and warm California, the January home field in Baltimore becomes huge. It's not the Ice Bowl, but it is certainly enough to have an effect on an opponent's passing game.
2)The Ravens offense is shaping up to be dangerous.
Go through your head and project realistic numbers for the top five Ravens receivers.
Here are my predictions, which may be optimistic in that they don't account for injury, like any pre-season predictions these are all on paper only. Boldin 1100 yards, Mason 800 yards, Rice 700 yards, Stallworth 500 yards, Todd Heap/Rookie tight end 450 Yards. That's 3,550 yards for Joe Flacco, just from his top five receivers.
He needs 450 yards for a 4,000 yard season, which sounds tough considering the receivers are thin behind those five, but it means he only needs 29 yards per game from someone not in the top five to hit 4,000. It is optimistic but a 4,000 yard season from a Ravens quarterback could be coming.
3)Le'ron McClain needs to see the ball more.
Ray Rice is at his most effective when the defense is worn down late in the game and Le'ron McClain (and to a lesser extent, Willis McGahee) could play a more pivotal role in softening up the defenses, especially early in the year where heat could be a factor. This should allow Rice to maintain his same level of effectiveness with fewer touches. I'm not saying Rice needs to go back to 5-10 touches a game, but I certainly think he's more of a 15-25 touch kind of back than a 25-35 touch guy. It's not a knock on him as a player, it's just how I think he functions best.
4) Watching old videos of Kyle Boller, I think he really did get a raw deal.
I know it's almost sacrilege to stand up for Kyle Boller in this town, but I really think that Kyle Boller was never given a chance to succeed. At no point in his career did he have a sufficient pass blocking offenseive line or competent receivers. Especially in St. Louis, I don't think a Peyton Manning-Tom Brady Hybrid could have done much better in that mess.
It's forgotten now but there was a time in his second season where it really appeared he had gotten it together and had the Ravens on the brink of a playoff berth. But when you aren't even getting two seconds in the pocket to set your feet, the injuries, lack of confidence, and poor play were bound to happen.
Watching some film now you only see glimpses of it but every now and then the line holds up and one of his receivers makes a great move and you see him make a throw and you say, "Wow why can't they all be like that?" They all can't be like that because the times when he was put in those positions to succeed were few and far between.
5)Ditto for Elvis Grbac.
If Kyle Boller had one thing going for him, it was the running game. He was backed by one of the most dominating few years a running back has ever had. Elvis Grbac had all the same problems as Boller, outside of Ogden not great pass blocking, and with the injury to Jamal Lewis, no running game to speak of. I think the fans and the team gave up on him too soon.
6) Don't think the Ravens should consider Gresham in the First Round
I don't like the fact that in a position that requires going across the middle of the field and taking a big hit a player is having back problems at such a young age. I prefer Kyle Wilson (CB Boise State) although it looks like he won't be available. One of the many late first round DEs will probably be the pick if that is the case, although Terrence Cody's draft stock is on the rise and there has been some speculation that the Ravens have expressed interest in Cody after his weight loss for his Pro Day.
7) If the Ravens pass on Gresham in the first round, I really like the idea of taking Florida TE Aaron Hernandez in the second round. Not only did he outperform Gresham in every combine drill at Florida's Pro Day, but he also was able to play last year and performed well. He doesn't have interest in blocking however, and that could be a red flag to a team with the mindset of tough football in the trenches.
8) The Ravens really are at the luxury of following their best player available mantra for the most part. Here is a breakdown of the positions the ravens could consider with their first round pick, and a player for each that could be there when the Ravens pick.
QB- Nope, not gonna happen.
RB- A long shot, but Willis McGahee is making a ridiculous amount of money this year, and is likely gone next year even if the salary cap doesn't return. If the Ravens fall in love with a back, likely a bruiser with speed i.e. Ryan Matthews, they could make the move, and create a deadly running back tandem similar to Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams in Carolina.
WR- The acquisition of Anquan Boldin makes a WR pick here much less likely than before. If Dez Bryant falls and the Ravens are not scared off by his character issues, he could be a possibility. Wide receiver is less of a need now that the Ravens added Boldin, but it is still a need. With Derrick Mason turning 36 this year, Stallworth, Clayton, both on one-year deals, a WR pick here could be smart for next year.
TE- A very strong possibility as rumor was the Ravens were going to take Brandon Pettigrew last year before Michael Oher fell to them. If they fall in love with Gresham and are confident his back will hold up, this could be a great pick.
OT- Not likely due to the drop off in talent after the first four or five tackles this year, and they will likely be off the board. A tackle pick becomes slightly more likely if Gaither is traded, but you typically wouldn't use a first round pick on a right tackle since Oher would be moving to the left tackle spot.
OG- Not likely; the Ravens offensive line played well here. Guards are also usually picked up later in the draft. It would be rare for a team to spend the money to pay two first round guards at the same time.
C- Another position not often drafted in the first round, this could be a dark horse for the Ravens first round pick. I have been hearing good things about Maurkice Pouncey, and he is the kind of versatile lineman the Ravens like with the ability to play both guard and center.
DE- Highly likely. I'm fully confident that Terrell Suggs will bounce back and have a better year, but Trevor Price was flat out done last year and Dwan Edwards who quietly did a nice job replacing him has signed elsewhere. Carlos Dunlap or Jerry Hughes could be the pick here but keep an eye on Everson Griffen from USC.
DT-It could happen, Ngata is up for a new deal next year and the Ravens could use another tackle with the number two right now looking to either be Kelly Gregg, or Cory Redding. Part of me says it's ridiculous but another part of me can't shake the feeling that Ozzie Newsome could be the one to pull the trigger on Terrence Cody.
LB-If the pick is an outside linebacker here it would likely be a rush/hybrid. If Rolando McClain falls to the Ravens I think they would have to think very hard about taking him to eventually replace Ray Lewis.
CB- Probably the Ravens biggest need, it doesn't look like Joe Haden will fall out of the top 10, and the Steelers and Eagles among others could both take a shot on Kyle Wilson, so unfortunately for the Ravens, they want to take a corner, but doing so here would be a reach.
S- Either a free or strong safety could be the pick here if the Ravens like Taylor Mays, Earl Thomas, or if Eric Berry has a Brady Quinn-like fall. Ed Reed won't play forever and Dwan Landry was not very impressive last year.
9)The Ravens really should move Jared Gaither now.
Gaither is a legitimate top 10 tackle in this league. However, the Ravens have a problem because they think Michael Oher will be even better at left tackle. Jared Gaither supposedly can't play on the right side, and even if he could, when the time comes to get paid he's going to want top 10 left tackle money, which the Ravens simply couldn't pay to a right tackle. He probably is worth a first round pick, but with the trades that are going this year, the Ravens might just be satisfied to get a third and fourth back in the deal. Someone will be getting a steal with Gaither.
That's all for now, thanks for reading it all and please leave a comment.
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