My “The Lockout is about to end” Ravens blog.

July 18, 2011 | John West

All indications are the NFL and the Players Union have reached a verdict and will be ending the lockout by the end of this week, July22. Thank God!!!!!!!!

There is much to discuss with our Baltimore Ravens and what are the chances of this year’s team going deep into the playoffs and making a run at the Super Bowl. Lots of National media types put the Ravens in the top 4 or 5 teams in a tough AFC crowd. Lets take a quick look at this group.
Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and the New York Jets. I think the San Diego Chargers are also very good, but I don’t see them in the top 4 of the AFC discussion.

First up is the Steelers. All passionate vitriol aside I see the Steelers taking a step back this year. I don’t think they addressed their biggest need, offensive line help, or their second biggest need, secondary help. I think there an old team and slowing down. They have had a tumultuous offseason and they have a recent track record of not making the playoffs after having gone to the Super Bowl the year before. Plus, we have to beat them.

Next is the New York Jets. They have been to the AFC Championship game two years running and have a fiery leader in head coach Rex Ryan. I like this team and I see them getting to the playoffs again. I just don’t see them as having enough to get them over the hump, but I would not be surprised if they did. This is a very good team.

The Indianapolis Colts are only as good as their QB and pass rush. They have the best QB and a very good pass rush, which is why they have been to the playoffs for a long stretch of consecutive seasons. I don’t see any reason to think the Colts will fall back enough to miss the playoffs, but they are getting old and will only remain dominant as long as they have Peyton Manning.

The New England Patriots are a very good team, with a great QB and a strong, young defense. I see the Pats are going on another 13-3 type season and being the favorite to reach the Super Bowl, again.

Finally, you have our Ravens. They have lots of positives and a few holes to deal with. I like our chances again this year but we have to overcome one massive problem. We have to learn to beat the Steelers with Big Ben as their QB. This has become our Achilles heal and the only way to solve this is to beat them. RIGHT NOW!!

I will be going through a longer list of needs and issues for the Ravens but I will leave you with this…..I think signing Marshall Yanda to be our Right Guard to a long term deal has got to be our top priority as the free agent season is about to begin. No question about it, this is our top priority.

I think our offensive line is good to pretty good. Michael Oher and Ben Grubbs on the left side is a good group, with the potential to be great. I think both of these two young men with step up this year and play very well. Our veteran center, Matt Birk, has one year left in him, I hope. He has been such a solid player for his entire career that I hope he has one year left in him. The right tackle position has 3 players vying for that spot. Rookie Jah Reid, Oneil Cousins and Ramon Harewood. I think the Ravens like the rookie but I have been reading how Cousins thinks he is prepared to play well enough to start. Overall, I think we will be ok at RT.

It’s the Right Guard spot that is a hole. Chris Chester will test the free agent market and will find a home someplace else. Its Marshall who plays a great right guard. If we sign him, we give our offensive line a chance to be great. With our QB and running back both entering their fourth year in the league and our wide receiver core finally being good, I think our offensive line needs to remain a strength. Signing one player, Marshall Yanda, allows this to happen. If we don’t sign him, we have to sign someone else and I don’t think there is any free agent signing out there that could be of equal value than Marshall.

Yep, this is my top priority and it will be resolved, either way, very early in the abbreviated free agent season. I can’t wait.

Bye the way, the Orioles have won 2 straight games.