4 – Offensive Turnover
I’ve talked about it a lot this season. Look at the rest of the league, and its best teams. Now look at how long they’ve been mostly together. While some turnover on both sides of the ball is expected from season to season, the Ravens have routinely swapped out 40% of their offensive line and more than half of their receiving corps each year and have seemingly tailored their offensive philosophies around the talent at hand each and every season. From the run heavy unbalanced line looks of the 2008 season to the streaking Torrey Smith show this year, the Ravens have been blown up and rebuilt continuously under the Cameron/Flacco regime. What other successful team is dealing with this kind of turnover from season to season?
LT: 08-Gaither, 09- Gaither, 10 – Oher, 11 – McKinnie
LG: 08- Grubbs, 09- Grubbs, 10- Grubbs, 11- Grubbs/ Gurode
C: 08- Brown, 09- Birk, 10- Birk, 11- Birk
RG: 08- Chester/Yanda, 09- Chester/Yanda, 10- Chester, 11- Yanda
RT: 08- Adam Terry/ Willie Anderson (TE), 09- Oher, 10- Yanda, 11-Oher
FB: 08- Neal, 09- McClain, 10- McClain, 11- Leach
RB: 08- McGahee/McClain, 09- Rice/McGahee, 10- Rice/McGahee, 11- Rice/Williams
TE: 08- Heap/Anderson 09- Heap, 10- Heap/Dickson, 11- Dickson/Pitta
WR1: 08- Mason, 09- Mason, 10- Mason/Boldin , 11- Boldin
WR2: 08- Clayton, 09- Clayton, 10- Mason/Boldin, 11- T. Smith
WR3: 08- Williams, 09- Clayton, 10- Houshmandzadeh, 11- Evans/L.Williams?
5 – Decorum
Owner Steve Bisciotti did Cameron and the Ravens a great disservice this season by declaring that he liked “Cam under fire”. The credibility that Bisciotti lent to the perception that Cameron was on shaky ground cemented him as a polarizing figure all season. Again given all of the circumstances detailed above, the jobs done by Cameron and Flacco could be seen as miraculous and celebrated, instead each has been routinely taken to task throughout the season while the team piled up win after win. Both deserve a medal for simply tolerating it with dignity and decorum.
6- The Offense Did Improve
Production and improvement are both relative. On the surface the Ravens statistical numbers are disappointing and appear to represent a step back. Before judging too quickly though look at the brutality of the schedule that they played. While I touted the schedule as soft all season and still believe it to some degree, the defenses that the Ravens had to deal with from week to week were unfathomable.
In terms of total yardage allowed the Ravens faced defenses ranked 1st (PIT x 2), 2nd (HOU), 4th (SF), 5th (NYJ), 6th (JAX), 7th (CIN x 2), 9th (SEA), 10th (CLE x 2), 16th (SD), 18th (TEN & AZ), 22nd (St.L) and 25th (IND).
*The Ravens were ranked 3rd themselves, so they played 11 of their games against the 9 best other defenses in the NFL.
In passing yards allowed Ravens opponents were ranked 1st (PIT x 2), 2nd (CLE x 2), 3rd (HOU), 5th (NYJ), 7th (St.L), 8th (JAX), 9th (CIN x 2), 11th (SEA), 13th (SD), 14th (TEN), 15th (IND), 16th (SF) and 17th (AZ)
*The Ravens were ranked 4th, so all of their games in 2011 were against top 16 (other) pass defenses in the NFL.
In points allowed, Ravens opponents were ranked 1st (PIT x 2), 2nd (SF), 4th (HOU), 5th (CLE x 2), 7th (SEA), 8th (TEN), 9th (CIN x 2), 11th (JAX), 17th (AZ), 20th (NYJ), 22nd (SD), 26th (St.L), and 28th (IND).
*The Ravens were ranked 3rd, so they played 10 games against the top 8 other scoring defenses in the NFL.
There’s a game-by-game table at the end with some pretty telling stats, but before you get there…