Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., August 26

August 26, 2013 | Drew Forrester

It’s that time of year when people ask me nearly every day, “Well, how do you think the Ravens are going to do?”

How should I know?  (Although, with my recent pick of Jason Dufner to win the PGA Championship (which, he did) and my March selection of the Dodgers to go to the World Series in October (which, they will), I guess folks think I have some sort of crystal ball these days. )

I don’t think the Ravens roster is set yet, so identifying their final record is tough, but I have come up with one stock answer to that “How will the Ravens do?” question that sums up what I think about the upcoming 2013 campaign.

My reply:  “I think the Ravens are going to miss Ray Lewis.”

In fact, I think they’re going to miss him a lot.

I’m not basing my guess on what the three pre-season games have revealed, because we all know pre-season football is about as meaningful as a blinking yellow light on a busy road.

My hunch on 2013 is that the Ravens won’t reach double digits in wins.  That means, most likely, they’ll finish a 9-7 or 8-8 team.  I’ll hedge that bet, a little bit, based on the fact that Ozzie and Eric DeCosta still have roughly ten days to perfect their roster before the opening thriller in Denver.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see another veteran or two added between now and next Thursday night.

That said, it would have to be one helluva an addition for me to shake that thought that this year’s Ravens team is due for a dip in the win category.

They’re going to miss Ray Lewis…big time.

The football player – Ray Lewis – is easily replaceable.  OK, maybe not EASILY replaceable, but someone will jump in as the inside linebacker and do an adequate enough job.  Right now, Darryl Smith seems to be handling that position well, although I do see a little of the “old Ray” in Smith when he tries to keep up with a receiver or tight end in the middle of the field.

The “other” Ray Lewis…the leader, the mentor, the guiding light — there’s just no way in hell anyone comes close to replacing that guy.  With all due respect to Terrell Suggs, he has zero chance at all of replicating Lewis as a leader.  None.  The same goes for the quarterback, who has his own interesting leadership style, but it’s not one that will galvanize a locker room full of players from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds like Lewis could do in his seventeen seasons with the club.

This season was inevitable, of course.  Ray Lewis wasn’t going to play forever, deer-antler-spray or not.

And, while I know John Harbaugh won’t want to hear it, a one (or two) season hangover when the greatest player in your franchise’s history departs is almost expected.  I expect it, quite honestly.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. The Armchair QB Says:

    According to my crystal ball, the Ravens make the playoffs for the 6th straight time, after which, anything can happen! My rationale is that the defense this year is better than last year and, the offense managed to make the playoffs with mediocre receiving talent before the arrival of Boldin, Smith and Pitta. And, that was with Cam Cameron as the OC! Once the offense settles in, they’ll be at least equally productive to the regular season last year. That being said, back-to-back Super Bowls is a very difficult task to accomplish in the NFL!

  2. Chuck Says:

    Flacco doesn’t understand anything you’ve written this morning.

  3. dave hittinger Says:

    Ah Kyle Boller, the ever lasting legacy of that quarterback guru and offensive genius, Brian Billick.

  4. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    If we have a mediocre year that’s ok with me; we are defending SUPER BOWL CHAMPS and that’s a good thing !!!

  5. unitastoberry Says:

    The Ravens will miss Ray Lewis the coach. You can see Harbs trying to assert his own style into the team this preseason. I don’t know if it will work? Going to Gettysburg and buying ice cream and trying to act like an old school coach sounds great but will it work with todays players? This is Harbs year to be the head coach if he makes the playoffs again then he’s coach of the year. If he wins the Superbowl again he might be looking at Canton one day. He knows it and even though he’s team team team he wants it very bad.

  6. Eric Says:

    NOBODY could ever replace Lewis, but other leaders will step up and lead the team just fine.

  7. John In Westminster Says:

    Interesting perspective. I think in general, there will be chemistry issues when you rebuild half of your defense and lose some key components on offense. Ray brought emotional leadership but another key asset was his dedication to film study, football IQ, and general instincts for the game (ditto for Reed).

    A key will be Caldwell’s contributions now that the OC has had a full off-season to install his offense. Will the Ravens offense become predictable as they were under Cam or will they continue to enjoy their post-season success? Or, will they sorely miss Boldin and Pitta? Everyone seems to forget the offense floundered for most of the regular season and that Boldin wasn’t lighting the world on fire until the playoffs. Everyone also seems to forget that stability with our O-line also contributed to the offense’s post season success. This offense will be better than last year’s regular season offense but might not be as good as the one in the post season.

    Having that said, I think this year’s defense will outperform last year’s on talent alone as we will have a more consistent pass rush, a more stout run defense, and two safeties who love to tackle. The offense will start out slow, but Clark and Stokley should develop a rapport with Flacco. The first half of the season will probably be around 5-3 while finishing 5-3 to 6-2 down the stretch as the team starts to really gel. I know I’m going against the Vegas and Forrester odds, but I’m feelin’ 10-6 this year with another division title. (NOTE: Forecast subject to the any more injuries to starters and/or Cinderella teams coming out of nowhere like the Buffalo Bills or the Bengals actually living up to their pre-season hype this year.)

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