Top Questions Heading Into The Season For The Ravens

July 03, 2012 | Eric Green

There are a lot of questions surrounding a team that was a dropped pass away from going to the Superbowl last year. The biggest questions to me are on offense and defense. First question, and maybe the biggest of all is how well will this defense play after losing Cory Redding, Jarett Johnson, and defensive coordinator turned head coach Chuck Pagano? Cory Redding and Jarett Johnson depart from the Ravens via free agency. Double J ( Jarett Johnson ), this past off-season signed a four year deal joining former Raven Antwan Barnes in San Diego. Cory  Redding heads to Indy with Pagano signing a three year deal. Johnson was more of the unsung player of the Ravens, in 2010 he became the Ravens franchise record holder for consecutive starts by starting his 115th game against the Steelers in a divisional playoff game. Johnson’s work ethic and leadership on and off of the field will be missed by Baltimore. Cory Redding, another player like Johnson who played the ” Ravens Way ” of football, spent two seasons with the team. Redding was a solid player for the Ravens his talents will be missed as well. Now don’t think for one second, that  general manager Ozzie Newsome would have let these guys go if he didn’t have someone to replace them with. Which leads to the theory of next man up. The Ravens this off season drafted Courtney Upshaw from Alabama with a second round pick, a high second round pick mind you. High second round picks are generally some players that slip from the first round, and many thought of Upshaw as a first round pick. This season he will be playing linebacker for Baltimore and more than likely be in some situations placed at defensive end.Second question, how will Dean Pees and returning players fill the void that will be left by the sack master Terell Suggs?. Returning players all with another season under their belts, Paul Kruger, Arthur Jones, and Pernell McPhee. All players will have expanded roles this season as I believe new defensive coordinator Dean Pees will use all of them until he figures out something that will work best. Suggs says he will be back by the middle of the season, but Dean Pees and company will have to do their best to try to do what Suggs produces on the field.  Third question, how will this offensive line look this season? Matt Birk, Bryant Mckinnie, Michael Oher, Jai Reid, and  Kelechi Osemele will form the Ravens offensive line this year. Birk, Mckinnie, Oher, and Reid are returning players, Kelechi Osemele was drafted in the second round by the Ravens this year out of Iowa State. The loss of pro bowl left guard Ben Grubbs hurts the Ravens, and once again its all about the next man up. 12 year veteran Bobbie Williams, who last played for the Bengals, joins this group of offensive linemen. Williams, in a week 14 game against the Houston Texans, would be the last game he would play that season leaving the game with a broken ankle. With Mckinnie’s weight issues so far, Birks age, it will be interesting to see how they will work as a unit. Final question, will the offense be able to handle the responsibility of scoring more points as the defense could struggle? Each year,quarterback Joe Flacco’s career he has gotten better each season. With a quarterbacks coach in Jim Caldwell, look for Flacco to make even bigger strides. Ray Rice needs to build upon last years numbers as well. Missing time because of a contract issue may or may not present an issue to his performance this year, but it would be better if he was in camp getting his reps in. All in all, the Baltimore Ravens have some issues as do all teams in the league, but how they overcome their issues is strictly up to them.