Baltimore get on your feet! Stand up, get your hands up. Are you ready to kickoff?
The 2011 season for the Baltimore Ravens can be summed up in a few words, “Oh my God.” Terrell Suggs uttered these words after Billy Cundiff’s field goal drifted away along with the Ravens’ hope for another chance at winning the Superbowl. The Ravens quite possibly had one of the more interesting 12-4 seasons in NFL history because they underachieved to a certain degree. They shouldn’t have lost some of the games they did and had a chance at perfection if they didn’t lay down to certain opponents throughout the year. Some might say, if they didn’t lose to Jacksonville and Seattle and the Patriots game was in Baltimore, we would be talking about a different result in the World Championship. This year’s team has a little higher to climb to reach the peak of the mountain and get that second Superbowl trophy in franchise history, but it won’t come without challenges.
This year’s Ravens will look slightly different. New Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees replaces Chuck Pagano after he had a successful campaign with a defense that ranked third in the league in points allowed (16.6), third in yards allowed (288.9), fourth in passing yards allowed (196.2) and second in rushing yards allowed (92.6). The question remains, will the defense continue to be stout?
The injury to Terrell Suggs’ achilles tendon will not make things any easier for the boys in purple this fall. I initially was upset at the guy for hurting it while playing basketball. My initial argument was that he has a responsibility to the Ravens in his contract and should only do football moves and activities. Then, I paused and realized I do the same thing at school. While my playing days have recently passed, when I did play, I would often find myself playing racquetball or basketball to stay in shape and maintain my cardiovascular level. It’s a thing we like to do as athletes, try no movements to further our fitness level. I realized I can’t down Suggs for trying to do what I do as an athlete. The team on both sides of the ball has to respond with the “next man up” mentality the Houston Texans exhibited last year with losses such as Mario Williams, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson.
1. Ben Grubbs out, Kelechi Osmele/Bobbie Williams in.
What can’t be said about the former first-round pick out of Auburn. The guy was a stalwart on the offensive line and rarely let anyone on the left side penetrate. Anytime you lose a pro-bowler it’s going to hurt. Unfortunately, the Saints put out more money for him and left the Ravens searching for a replacement. Early in the off-season, Head Coach John Harbaugh hinted that Jah Reid may fill the void, but that appears to be more of hearsay now with the free agent acquisition of 35-year-old guard Bobbie Williams. Williams recently came off of a stint with the Cincinnati Bengals where he was considered to be a workhorse and a mauler; key characteristics of a left guard. The Ravens also drafted Kelechi Osmele out of Iowa State with the 60th overall pick in the second round to potentially fill the void of Grubbs. The teams hopes that Osmele will take the job as he is obviously the younger of the two, but a quad injury during minicamp has put Osmele a few steps back of Williams. Hopefully, both will be healthy so the team can have a great competition that produces an outright winner to establish some continuity on the offensive line that easily sits amongst the league’s elite.