Two days later — With Ray Lewis out, a glimpse to the future wasn’t so bright

November 22, 2011 | Drew Forrester


Someday — sooner than later, unfortunately — what you saw last Sunday vs. the Bengals will be more the norm than the exception.

And then maybe we’ll all completely appreciate the greatness of Ray Lewis.

Until then, though, we’ll just take moments like Sunday’s affair with the Bengals and appreciate the fact that we haven’t had to deal with many of those over the last 15 years.

But when it happens, when Ray is gone, things are going to be a lot different.

We saw that first-hand on Sunday in the 4th quarter when a rookie quarterback and a handful of not-so-common-names disguised as wide receivers gave the Ravens defense fits before finally falling short on the final series.

Would that have happened with Ray Lewis out on the field?

I doubt it.

Ray’s human — and throughout his career, there have been a few fourth quarter rallies at the expense of his defense, but they sure don’t come around much.  And I can’t imagine the Bengals would have buzzed around like “Air Coryell” in the 4th quarter if #52 would have been able to play on Sunday.

I’ve said this before, and even though it’s a simple statement, it rings true every Sunday when I watch Ray Lewis play football. We’ll never see anyone like him again.  At least not in my lifetime.  And the Ravens – as a team – will go through an eye-opening changing of the guard when Lewis isn’t around anymore.

You’ll see a lot more 31-24 Ravens games and a lot less 17-13 results.

Every player on the defense is better when Ray Lewis plays.  Even now, 15 years in, Lewis is still the man.  Every Wednesday when he meets with the media, Lewis always get in at least one or two “when I look at my defense” quotes…to remind everyone that it is, in fact, still HIS defense.  But something odd happens when Lewis says “my defense”.  He never emphasizes the word “my”, the way you might expect someone who is trying to remind everyone of his established role as the leader of the group.  The words “my defense” roll off his tongue with the same simplicity that you would say “where are my car keys?”

It’s still Ray’s defense.

And as we saw on Sunday afternoon, the longer it remains his defense, the better chance the Ravens have of winning.

Once he’s gone, those chances will diminish greatly.

So enjoy this while you can.



5 Comments For This Post

  1. John in Westminster Says:

    Its the first game without Ray on the field, so the defense will be worse. Will they ever be as good as with Ray in the lineup? Probably not. Will they get better after playing without him for a while. Definitely.

    I think there are some others that are playing ‘with pain’ that are contributing to the Ravens defensive struggles. Ngata and Suggs seemed to have less of an impact the last few weeks. Thoughts?

  2. eric Says:

    Ravens are a top notch organization. They will get somebody a hell of a lot better than Ellerbe to be Ray’s replacement. There will never be another Ray Lewis but we will have a quality MLB to replace him making the comparison to this past Sunday meaningless and shortsighted.

  3. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Drew: Pagano’s “D” started the first few games of the season striking fear into opposing QBs with an aggressive all out assault that in recent weeks, even with Ray in the lineup, has been reduced to a whimper! That’s more a function of a change in coaching philosophy than personnel, unless there are other factors at work that we don’t know about. Pagano better get back to the early winning formula or this team will be hard pressed to win ’cause we can’t score at will like the Pats or Packers!

  4. Daniel Says:

    In Seattle, with the Ravens in desperate need of a stop, Ray Lewis (an Jarret Johnson) whiffed on Marshawn Lynch. The defense as a whole on that drive whiffed over and over until the game was lost.

    They certainly miss Ray’s leadership and adjustments when he isn’t on the field. But a) that’s to be expected: he’s the best to ever play MLB, and b) there’s no saying that with an entire off-season to prepare someone on the defense wouldn’t also be able to provide those adjustments and that leadership.

    Suggs has shown the ability to inspire, has shown the ability to be a vocal leader for both the team and the defense. He won’t be called on to make calls or adjustments (not practical given the position he plays), but as soon as Ray hangs up the cleats, this smoothly transitions into Suggs’ defense.

    In fact, as long as they can find someone to make calls and adjustments effectively while on the fly, a younger, faster, stronger (1st or 2nd round) MLB prospect would improve this D, IMO. The greatest weaknesses on the defense are the linebackers in pass coverage and that they aren’t as fast sideline to sideline as we became accustomed to seeing.

    We will all be reminded on Thursday night the advantages of having a young, fast, strong MLB when Patrick Willis comes to town. Hopefully, in the 2012 Draft, there will be someone worthy of stepping into the middle of this Ravens defense, because I agree with you to an extent: with the personnel the Ravens have now, scores will be higher, games will be tighter and the defense as a whole, will be a definite question mark.

  5. Robert Says:


    Valid points all. I do appreciate what #52 has contributed over the years. I’m hoping that when he retires, he can be lured into a coaching spot on the Ravens, and from what I’ve heard of his spending habits, it’s likely he’ll need the money. Cheers.

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