Drew’s Morning Dish — Mon., August 26

August 26, 2013 | Drew Forrester

Here’s the truth:  Ray Lewis propped up the Ravens franchise for the better part of a dozen seasons.  He wasn’t “his own man” until that first Ravens Super Bowl win in 2001, but from that point on, he was the de facto owner of the organization.  He didn’t pay the bills, but he might as well have.  Like most great companies, they only go as far as their leader can take them.

Do you honestly think Ed Reed would have been as good as he was without Ray Lewis around?  Would Terrell Suggs be the same defensive force, if, say, he would have gone to the Eagles instead of the Ravens and never spent a day around No. 52?  Do you believe “decent” players like Bart Scott, Jarret Johnson and Adalius Thomas would have rung the mid-career cash register if they started their respective careers in Arizona, St. Louis and Tampa Bay instead of Baltimore?

More truth:  Ray Lewis made those players better than they would have been had they not wound up in purple.

Those Ravens teams in the mid 2000’s, with complete scrubs like Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright at the helm…they had zero business winning football games.  They won because Ray Lewis made the other fifty players good enough to overcome the horrible quarterback play.  Even when aging, brittle Steve McNair showed up in 2006, the Ravens, as a team, weren’t all that much better.  The former Titans QB had a decent first season in ’06, then broke down like a ’79 Ford Pinto in game one of the ’07 campaign and that was the end of the road for him.  Still, that ’06 club posted a 13-3 mark and looked poised for a title run until McNair laid an egg in the playoff loss to the Colts.

With virtually no high-standard quarterback play from 2002 until 2008, the Ravens somehow remained relevant because Ray Lewis made them that way.

He’s no longer around to do that kind of work and I don’t see anyone on the club worthy of occupying Ray’s role.

Leadership in sports, business and every day life is vastly underrated.  There’s no textbook for it, no matter how many Self-Help books are out there to help you “better yourself”.

You’re either a leader or you’re not.

Ray Lewis wasn’t just any leader.  He was the best in his sport since 1996.  No one came close.

And that’s why I think this year’s Ravens team might hover around .500.

Ray Lewis the football player will be missed far, far less than Ray Lewis the man.

In fact, as the Ravens are going to sadly find out, Ray Lewis the man can not be replaced…and their record in 2013 is going to reflect that commentary.

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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