Ravens aren’t facing an uphill battle…they’re just facing a battle – like everyone else in the NFL

October 15, 2012 | Drew Forrester

The Webb and Ray Lewis injuries will not help the team.  Anyone who thinks the Ravens are going to be helped by Webb or Ray-Ray NOT being available for the rest of the year is just living in fantasy-land.  The Ravens do not have a linebacker on their roster who is better than Ray Lewis.  Ray’s in the December of his career, maybe even the third-week of December, but Dannell Ellerbe is not an improvement over #52.  True, Ellerbe stepped in and handled things fairly well a season ago when Ray missed four games, but the burden of playing out the season wasn’t on Ellerbe last year like it is now.  He has suddenly become the starting middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.  He’s replacing a 37-year old player who is smarter, wiser and clearly more experienced.  It will be an uphill fight for Ellerbe between now and January, if you ask me.  I hope he responds.

And Jimmy Smith, while a #1 draft pick and all, is not going to perform as well as Lardarius Webb did.  Do you know how I know that?  Because Smith wasn’t even able to beat out the team’s outside cover corner,  Cary Williams, and wasn’t even close to taking the inside corner job from Webb.  That doesn’t mean Jimmy Smith can’t fill in admirably.  If he’s worthy of that #1 draft pick, he’ll take this role and kick some ass with it.  But to think the Ravens are going to be BETTER with Jimmy Smith as the team’s inside cornerback is silly.  They aren’t.

So I ask again, how are guys like Ellerbe and Smith supposed to dramatically improve on their technique when they’re only allowed to “really” practice one day a week?

Here’s the final piece of this puzzle, and perhaps the most important one.

In the recent off-season, the Ravens allowed five valuable (in varying degrees) defensive players to leave the team; Jarret Johnson, Cory Redding, Brandon McKinney, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura. Those players all left, primarily, because of money and because the Ravens had players to fill their spots who had been waiting in the wings.

Well…it’s time for those players who have been waiting for their big chance to step up and prove that Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh made the right decisions.

So far this year, we’ve seen little from Pernell McPhee, Terrence Cody, Paul Kruger and Jimmy Smith.  Asa Jackson was a 2012 draft pick who at times was impressive in training camp and pre-season.  He, too, needs to fill the “next man up” role and do the job.

Just remember this as you look ahead to the next three months of the season:  No one – including you – has any idea at all right now who’s going to do what between now and New Year’s Day.  You don’t know which team’s star quarterback will go down with a shoulder injury in week #11.  You can’t possibly predict which team’s best defensive player will be out for the year with a knee injury next week.  Go ahead right now and pick the “final four” of this NFL season when the AFC and NFC Championship Games are played next January — and put $1,000 on it with your “approved” bookmaker.  You’ll lose.  Guaranteed.

The NFL is the craziest league ever invented.  Week-to-week, game-to-game, team-to-team…it all changes every 7 days.

The only people who have it figured out are the folks in Las Vegas.




10 Comments For This Post

  1. Unitastoberry Says:

    There is no more d in the NFL. If you don’t practice tackling you can’t expect to do it good on Sundays.

  2. dave hittinger Says:

    Spot on Drew, the season is a marathon and virtually every team struggles with devastating injuries. Truth be told it was time to replace Ray anyway, they just may get better with someone else taking his place.

  3. tsnamm Says:

    Great summary Drew, I especially agree with the last point about the big free agent losses…while those guys weren’t the stars, they were the brick and mortar that helped keep the D a strong as it has been. Plus throw in Pagano leaving and Sizzle’s injury, and now these 2 from Sunday, and there are a lot of question marks as you pointed out. However like you also pointed out, if things could really come together at the end of the season, the Ravens could get on a hot streak ala the Packers and Giants that could carry them to the Super Bowl. There’s time and plenty of room for improvement, lets see if they take advantage of it.

  4. P-dubs Says:

    Tsnamm giants and packers had a dominant pass rush we dont

  5. Marcus Halberstram Says:

    This may be short sighted but the defense has been horrible and really couldn’t be much worse. This is a “circle the wagons” moment for this defense and time for Suggs to take the torch from Ray and proclaim this HIS defense.

  6. Phil Says:

    I hope this isn’t the end for Ray, he deserves a better ending and I would like to see him back next year.

  7. Robert Says:

    Before the season started, I wagered the 2012 Ravens would miss the playoffs. I did so not out of any prescience but figuring the odds were long to make the playoffs 5 years straight especially considering the loss of Pagano, Johnson, Redding et al. The injuries on Sunday make me wish I’d doubled-down seven weeks ago. Cheers.

  8. Ralph Says:

    You make some good points, Drew. I had to switch over to the fan for a few minutes the other day after listening to you all the time. A friend of mine said they heard Steve Davis speak with sincerity and came across as genuine for 12-15 seconds. Weird.

  9. The Armchair QB Says:

    The one area that the Ravens “D” does seem to excell at is, “takeaways”! But, that’s about it! Kruger and Cody appear to be “busts” and, if Kindle can’t help this team NOW, time to cut him and make room for someone who can! Both the “O” and “D” need to start playing with reckless abandon if they hope to get to the playoffs, particularly the woefully inept defense. Time to start sending the “house” after opposing QBs ’cause the secondary can’t cover anybody! At least if the passer is hurried, he might miss a few open receivers! But, your obsevations are right about teams in general. Winning with defense is DOA and teams who expect to get to the playoffs had better put up points or…else! The Cowboys demonstrated Sunday how a big play or two ruins a ball control offense…….

  10. tsnamm Says:

    P-dubs…absolutely true, more so the Giants than the Pack… if Sizzle gets back that may help Ngata, so we don’t have to blitz all the time to try and bring pressure… we see what needs they have to fill this next off-season if this team can’t step up. There should be some pretty good pass rush guys available in free agency this off season( Umenyora,Freeney). I’ll be interested to see if the Ravens have any cap space, and if they’re willing to spend some on the defensive side of the ball.

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