Concerns facing The Ravens this season

July 13, 2012 | James Finn

In just 1 week, the Castle in Owings Mills will be buzzing with Rookies and QB’s, marking the beginning of Training camp for the defending AFC North Champion Baltimore Ravens.   They attempt to find 53 players to fill their regular season roster, as they try to move past a sour ending to last years playoffs, and bring the Lombardi trophy back to Charm City.

But with the start of any season, there are always questions.   Having previously addressed concerns about Ray Rice, Here is a sampling of other questions, paired with my own answers.

1)  Will Ed Reed stop pouting about money and play some football?  Ed Reed is still an elite DB, but at 33 years old, with a multitude of injuries, he’s passed his peak.  He’s complaining about money when, just a few short months ago, he was talking about retiring.  Regardless if this is a ploy for contract negotiation, or if he’s caught a case of the “Favre’s”, right now, I’m not sure the drama is worth it.  The Ravens have bigger concerns, and if Reed was released, I’m not sure there is another team that would match the $7.2 Million he’s due this year.  While a player with his presence is impossible to replace, I sincerely hope Ozzie stays strong and doesn’t give in to Reed’s hissy fit.

2)  How will the Ravens cope with the Terrell Suggs injury?  The Ravens are in a bad way without Suggs, the reigning Defensive player of the year.  However, it’s not all doom and gloom.  One person does not make a defense.  Our defensive mentality has always been “Next man up”.   It’s not the first time the team has been face with an injury.  Just last year, Ray Lewis injured his (very) big toe, Jameel McClain filled in nicely (and earned a 3 yr/$10.5M contract doing it). Whether or not Suggs returns from his injury mid season, as he insists, 2nd round draft pick Courtney Upshaw will need to step up to the starting roster immediately and make an impact.

3) Is the age of the Offensive line a concern?  Age is always a concern.  When I was 14 and stole borrowed my moms car for the weekend, my age would have been a concern if I were caught (by authorities at least).  The offensive line, i’m not buying in that their age is an issue.  The skill is there, and O-line, while physically demanding, doesn’t require the same athletic prowess needed for nearly every other position on the gridiron.  Also, age lends to experience.  Matt Birk, who turns 36 this month, will likely be playing his last season.  It would do draft picks like Gradkowski and Osemele a service to soak up as much as they can from him.   Oher and Yanda are both Pro-Bowl caliber performers nearing their prime.

4)  Is Joe Flacco an Elite Quarterback?  Short answer, no.  Long answer, Hevhas the potential to be as good as he thinks he is.  A misconception that follows around is you can’t be an Elite QB without that ring.  By this logic, Dan Marino is not an elite QB, but Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer are.  Flacco has the weapons on offense (Smith, Pitta, Dixon all with another year under their belt) to help boost him from a low top 10 QB, to possibly the 5th or 6th best in the eyes of the nation.  He may be #1 in our hearts (until he throws that first pick, then look out), but it’ll take some more years before he’s mentioned in the same breath as Brady, Rodgers, or Brees.

There are always questions surrounding every team.  One thing is for certain: Regardless of concerns facing The Ravens, the organization has always found a way to move forward, regardless of individual challenges, to put the best possible team on the field, and compete at a high level year in and year out.  This season will be no different.  It’ll be nice, for a change, to be able to watch 2 competitive home teams in the fall.