My biggest reason for denying the likelihood of “regression” for the Baltimore Ravens actually had much more to do with the type of team they appeared to be during the course of the 2012 season than it did with any of the player movement that happened since the end of the campaign.
While they will forever be known as Super Bowl Champions, we are all well aware that the 2012 Baltimore Ravens were a flawed, far from perfect team that needed to have a number of fortunate circumstances go their way to make sure they’d claim the AFC North crown and get to the postseason. (And heck, even in the postseason they still needed some more fortunate circumstances to go their way to make sure that even an improved team could reach the plateau of “Paradise.”)
I saw a humorous interaction between Drew Forrester (host of the “D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” on WNST.net) and a follower on Twitter (@WNST) Sunday night. It was completely accurate.
Drew and I don’t agree on everything, but we agree wholeheartedly on this one.
The truth is that the Ravens weren’t even CLOSE to the best team in football in 2012. If you’d go back and look at “NFL Power Rankings” to wrap the 2012 regular season, you’d see a team that was believed to be in the bottom half of the playoff participants. (Obviously we know the script played out in the favor of the good guys anyway.)
The truth is that even a Ravens team that HAD Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Matt Birk, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Bernard Pollard and Anquan Boldin was only just good enough to get into the playoffs before winning four games at the right time. It is easy to note that Dumervil joins only Defensive Linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears in additions to the roster (thus far) and that Bryant McKinnie still remains in limbo, but there are other reasons to believe this team is more capable of playing like the postseason Ravens in 2013.
Joe Flacco’s improved play after Jim Caldwell was elevated to Offensive Coordinator is part of that belief. The acceptance of Juan Castillo as a Running Game coordinator capable of providing help to the Ravens’ O-Line is also part of that belief. (And since we’re here, a reminder that NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger told me recently Castillo believes Kelechi Osemele could be an option at LT if the team doesn’t retain McKinnie.) The emergence of Osemele and fellow rookies Courtney Upshaw and Bernard Pierce down the stretch in 2012 is also a big reason for that belief.
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