Baltimore Ravens 2010: Super Bowl Contenders?
Last Years Record 9-7
Wins: Chiefs, Chargers, Browns (x2), Broncos, Steelers, Lions, Bears, Raiders
Losses: Patriots, Bengals (x2), Vikings, Colts, Packers, Steelers
Biggest Playmaker Ray Rice
RB, Rutgers, Drafted #55, 3rd Year
In just his second year in the NFL Ray Rice amassed 2,041 yards from scrimmage, 2nd in the NFL. Ray Rice is a dynamic player in the open field and a very talented pass catcher, piling up over 700 yards receiving. Look for Ray Rice to improve his rushing totals this year, as the Ravens will have a stronger pass game, taking the defensive pressure off of him.
Impact Player Ray Lewis
MLB, Miami, Drafted #26, 15th Year
Sure, Ray Lewis is getting old. Sure, it’s hard to endure a long career as a linebacker in the NFL. Have you ever watched Ray Lewis play? I have never seen anyone play with as much passion and heart as he does, and he is clearly the leader of the Ravens’ stingy defense.And who’s to say his 15th year won’t be as successful as the rest, he racked up 135 tackles in year 14, and has been to 11 out of the last 13 pro bowls.
Will the Ravens win the AFC North?
Biggest Offseason Addition Anquan Boldin
WR, Florida State, Drafted #54, 8th Year
Ozzie Newsome has been a great GM over the years, but after being called out by owner Steve Biscotti for a lack of talent at wide receiver he made one of his best moves yet by trading a third and fourth round pick for three time pro bowler Anquan Boldin. Boldin is coming off an 80+ catch and 1,000 yard season and will be a huge addition to the Ravens’ aerial attack.
Biggest Offseason Loss Cornerback
Samari Rolle was unable to play in 2009 due to neck surgeries and unfortunately had to retire this offseason. Starting CB Domonique Foxworth is out for the season, leaving the team pretty thin at corner. They are currently looking at Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb as their starters who have a combined four interceptions in six total years (all four by Chris Carr in his five year career).
Biggest Draft Steal Terrence Cody
NT, Alabama, Drafted #57, Rookie
Terrence Cody fell to the Ravens in the second round because of concerns about his weight, but he passed the Ravens conditioning test in only three tries! Cody was a two-time Consensus All-American and at around 350 pounds can be a huge factor plugging the middle of the Ravens’ 3-4 defense. Next to Haloti Ngata the Ravens could have a scary-big defensive line.
Biggest Draft Reach Arthur Jones
DT, Syracuse, Drafted # 157, Rookie
Only because I had to choose. The Ravens had a great draft yet again in 2010, but the one guy who could possibly be considered a reach is Arthur Jones. He had injury problems his junior and senior years (torn pectoral and torn lateral meniscus). If he can stay healthy he could be productive but will be switching to a 3-4 defensive end and showed inconsistent play during college. However, Jones could stay healthy and prove to be a factor as a backup 3-4 DE.
Offseason Grade A
The Ravens lost zero starters while upgrading their biggest weakness, the receiver spot. In addition to Boldin the Ravens also signed Donte Stallworth. The Ravens’ first two draft choices were the best players available in their opinion, OLB Sergio Kindle and NT Terrence Cody. Hopefully Kindle can return soon from his fractured skull to bolster an already strong linebacking core.
X-Factor Joe Flacco
QB, Delaware, Drafted #18, 3rd Year
Joe Flacco is entering his third year after leading the Ravens to the playoffs his first two seasons and improving his performance and statistics in his second season. With the additions of Stallworth and Boldin I expect Flacco to have a big year, but his performance is key to the Ravens’ success.
Name You Should Know Matt Birk
C, Harvard, Drafted # 173, 13th Year
Matt Birk has been one of the most successful centers in NFL history. He has been to six pro bowls and was a veteran leader of an O-line that ranked 5th in rush offense in 2009. Birk may well be the most successful NFL player to come out of the Ivy League the past twenty years.
Rising Star Michael Oher
OT, Ole Miss, Drafted # 23, 2nd Year
Oher was made famous because of Michael Lewis’ book "The Blind Side" (later made into a movie), which told of Oher’s upbringing and journey to Ole Miss. Oher slipped down to 23rd in last year’s draft due to concerns about his learning disability and his childhood, but proved doubters wrong, starting all 16 games in his rookie campaign
Offensive Outlook A-
If Joe Flacco can step up and become an elite quarterback the Ravens will be tough to stop. Ray Rice is a dynamic weapon, and adding Anquan Boldin seriously helps their passing attack. Todd Heap is aging but is still productive, and the offensive line is strong with Jared Gaither and Oher at the tackles and Matt Birk in the middle.
Defensive Outlook B
Probably the first time in recent years that the Ravens’ offense can be considered stronger than their defense. The Ravens are the 5th oldest team in the league, and the age is showing on defense. Ray Lewis should continue to lead the defense even in his fifth season, but the uncertainty in the secondary (inexperience at the corners and Ed Reed being on the PUP list and not knowing when he will return) could definitely hurt the pass defense. In addition, Terrell Suggs will have to rebound from a season in which he recorded only 4.5 sacks.
Special Teams Outlook B
The Ravens ranked 18th overall in overall special teams last year, and are looking to improve that ranking in 2010. The Ravens signed Shayne Graham (fifth highest field goal percentage in NFL history) who will likely beat out Billy Cundiff. Sam Koch was consistent in 2009 with just 5 touchbacks and 26 landed inside the 20. They will likely look to Chris Carr to return punts again and possibly start Jalen Parmele as the kick returner, who averaged 31.4 yards per return in nine returns towards the end of the year.
Projected 2010 Record 10-6
The Ravens have a very good chance to win the AFC North this year with the improvements to their offense, but their defense is facing injury problems already with Safety Ed Reed on the PUP list and CB Domonique Foxworth out for the season. However, Terrell Suggs promised he would never play as badly as he did in 2009, and Ray Lewis is too good to be too old, so I seem them contending for the AFC North title in 2010…mostly due to their now balanced offense.
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