With less than three weeks remaining till training camp opens, football season is right around the corner. The Super Bowl Champion (that’s not getting old) Baltimore Ravens will attempt to repeat, but that is a long way off. For now, here is what I like, don’t like, and am just not sure about our 2013 Baltimore Ravens.
What I like: Defensive Front
The Baltimore Ravens will have quarterbacks uncomfortable. The offseason signing of Elvis Dumervil to go opposite Terrell Suggs on the ends is enough to give the coolest quarterbacks a few nervous jitters. This move has also been, and will continue to be, what everyone talks about, but the Ravens made some other key signings which will boost their defensive front. Bringing in Chris Canty and Marcus Spears to help Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones clog up the middle were significant, albeit underrated, signings. The Ravens will have as good of a Defensive front as anyone in league this year.
What I don’t like: Wide Receivers
Many people think the Ravens lack a #2 receiver, however, I’m not even sure the Ravens even have a #1 receiver. Last year Torrey Smith, who many say is the Ravens #1 receiver, had 855 yards receiving on 49 receptions. These are very good numbers, but not #1 receiver numbers. And yes, he will get become a bigger part of the offense and get more targets with the absence of Anquan Boldin, but he will also face tougher defensive assignments for the same reason. Outside of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, there are a plethora of young receivers all vying to be that #2 or #3 guy. Time and time again that these young players are said to be practicing very well, but I put little value in practice as it doesn’t always translate to game performance. (In the back of my mind, I’m hearing Allen Iverson say, “We talkin’ about practice! Not the game… we talkin’ about practice!”) Tandon Doss is a perfect example of player who has consistently been called a good practice player but when given the opportunity in games has not performed. Our receiving core offers more questions than answers at this point.
Just not sure about: Ravens offense
The blame for the woes of the offense last year were placed almost entirely on offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Unfortunately for Cameron, but fortuntately for new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell as well as for the Ravens, Joe Flacco and the offense performed superbly after Cameron’s departure. So in the minds of most people the following equation occurred: Cameron + Offensive Coordinator = Mediocre Offense, but: Caldwell + Offensive Coordinator = great offense (not to mention Super Bowl). This is simple math but there’s a problem here. There are several variables that need to be taken into account. Joe Flacco was much more consistent under Caldwell but was this because Caldwell had a better scheme or did Flacco, a streaky quarterback, just get hot at the right time? How does the loss of Boldin influence the above equation? Would a bad offensive line change the above equation? (Bryant McKinnie will turn 34 this year; can he be relied on to play 16 games? Gino Gradkowski is untested at center). Ravens fans place a lot of confidence in Jim Caldwell and assume offensive success based on the latter half of last year; I’m just not sure it’s that simple.