Lets start with the good news, which many are overlooking. The Ravens have lost one game despite losing one of the most dynamic defensive players in the NFL earlier in the offseason. This team could even be undefeated.
So what does all of this mean? It means that the Ravens are one of the most battle-tested teams in the NFL right now. They are used to playing in close games and have shown they can win close games, which is an improvement from last year.
But, as many know by now, there is also bad news, very bad news. The Ravens will be without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season. Lewis suffered a torn triceps injury and Webb tore his ACL in the first quarter of yesterday’s game. Not only are Webb and Lewis great players, but they are also great leaders.
Webb is a lesser known player in the NFL. Many people outside of Baltimore might not know who he is. But when healthy, Webb is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He consistently shut down opposing wide receivers last season and is tied with Eric Weddle for the most interceptions since the 2011 season.
Carry Williams and Jimmy Smith will be the starters for the rest of the season. Both are capable of taking Webb’s place but neither will play up to the level that Webb is capable of. The Ravens were already struggling to defend the pass, so the outlook does not look very good.
Jimmy Smith was a first round pick in 2011 and played very well at the end of last season. But he is still a young player and has not looked the same through the first six games of 2012. He will be tested this week when he lines up across from Andre Johnson.
Losing Ray Lewis is devastating. He is the heart and soul of the team and is still playing well in his 17th season. Losing Lewis means that Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain will be the two starters. But, if Terrell Suggs returns in the next few weeks, the Ravens could change things around.
For one, Albert McClellan could move to the inside. McClellan has been a starter at outside linebacker and has played well but has yet to register a sack. McClellan started one game at middle linebacker last season against the 49ers when Ray Lewis was sidelined with an injury. McClellan was impressive in that game and recorded four tackles.
The bottom line is that Joe Flacco needs to keep playing at a high level. He was practically handed the starting job in 2008 when Troy Smith was sick and the rest is history. If Flacco can keep playing at a high level and carry this team despite all these injuries, the Ravens will hand him something else, a blank check.
No matter what happens for the rest of the season, we are going to learn a lot about the Baltimore Ravens.