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Offseason Breakdown: Baltimore Ravens


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With NFL training camps just around the corner, we’re taking a team-by-team look at how the offseason played out and what you can expect in 2012. Click here to read them all.

The Ravens have established themselves as one of the NFL’s more reliable franchises in recent years, with four consecutive playoff appearances and back-to-back 12-win seasons.

But is this it?

Take the Super Bowl XXXV win out of the equation — and this will be the 12th season since then — and the Ravens face a lot of the same questions that the Falcons do in the NFC. On paper, the talent is there. It’s always been there on the defensive side of things, even as the clock ticks on Baltimore’s veterans, and there are enough playmakers on offense to keep up now too.

Most eyes tend to fall on QB Joe Flacco, who has a 44-20 regular-season record in his four years but has come up shy of the Super Bowl each time. Can he and the Ravens finally get back to the promised land this year?


2011 Record: 12-4 (first place, AFC North), lost to Patriots in AFC title game

Key Additions: S Sean Considine, CB Corey Graham, WR Jacoby Jones, OL Kelechi Osemele, LB Courtney Upshaw

Key Subtractions: G Ben Grubbs, LB Jarrett Johnson, DE Cory Redding

Team Strengths: RB, TE, DL, LB

Team Weaknesses: WR, OL depth

Three Things to Watch:

1. How much do Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have left in the tank?: It’s become a bit of an annual tradition for Reed to say he’s unsure if he’ll return to the field, as he did again this offseason. Each passing season makes it more likely that the 33-year-old safety actually does walk away. Same goes for Lewis, 37, who said in 2011 that he’d retire if the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

That duo has been the heart and soul of Baltimore’s defense for a decade-plus, but the end of line is much closer than the beginning. Lewis missed four games to injury last year, for example, and Reed sat out six in 2010. The Ravens need both players healthy and on the field or it will be hard for their defense to maintain its dominance.

2. Is Torrey Smith ready to be a star?: Because of how the Ravens use their tight ends and Ray Rice (assuming he ever signs his franchise tender or a long-term deal), the need isn’t necessarily there for a dominant, No. 1 receiver. And yet, Baltimore has to be frustrated with how the production has dropped off at that spot on the field since Derrick Mason went for three straight 1,000-yard campaigns from 2007-09.

Anquan Boldin has been good but not great in his two seasons in Baltimore. He, and the entire offense, could get a boost if Torrey Smith continues to develop as he did in his rookie year. Smith made 50 grabs for 841 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011 and showed off some serious deep-ball abilities. The Ravens have to hope that was just a sign of things to come, and not the ceiling for Smith’s production.

3. Can the offensive line hold it together?: When you think of the Ravens, you think of a team that can win in the trenches. But the offensive line struggled at times last season — mainly because of up-and-down performances from tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher. The talent and experience is there in the starting lineup, but there’s not a lot of depth, which is why Baltimore used draft picks on Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski.

Outlook: The Steelers just keep on keeping on, and the Bengals are one of the NFL’s up-and-coming teams, so Baltimore has its work cut out for it in the AFC North. Getting Rice and Reed back on board in time for Week 1 would obviously help a lot, but the Ravens also have to overcome some sneakily big free-agent losses — Grubbs, Johnson and Redding were all contributors.

Baltimore probably will enter the season as the AFC North favorite and one of the conference’s legit Super Bowl contenders. Where the Ravens go from there depends on how consistent they can be on both sides of the ball.

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Until this, I've never read an article that made being very successfull sound so much like a downer.

Nice insult comparing the Ravens to the Falcons who can't win a playoff game.


The writer has receivers as a weakness.

Walker from ESPN has them as a strength...


When it comes to the wide receivers who play their best against the best, the Pittsburgh Steelers are at the top of the class in the division and perhaps the league. However, ESPN Insider K.C. Joyner adds the Ravens' wide receivers into that mix as well.


The starters for both the Steelers and the Ravens rank in the top 12 of Joyner's "matchup-busting" wide receivers, which is based on the best yards-per-attempt average against the defensive backs he rates as the best in the league.


You'll need a subscription to view the entire Insider piece in.gif, but here's a portion of what Joyner had to say about the receivers in the division:


Mike Wallace, Steelers (10.2 yards per attempt against top cornerbacks): If you're wondering whether Wallace is worth a huge contract, look no further than this metric.


Antonio Brown, Steelers (9.5 YPA): It will be difficult for the Steelers to keep both Brown and Wallace, but they would retain possibly the best matchup-buster wide receiver tandem in the NFL.


Anquan Boldin, Ravens (9.1 YPA): Boldin has struggled in this metric in past years, so his showing here indicates he stepped up his game last season.


Torrey Smith, Ravens (8.7 YPA): The AFC North has a reputation for being a run-first division but the combination of Smith, Boldin, Wallace and Brown gives this division a compelling argument for having the best group of matchup-buster wide receivers of any division in the NFL.


The Bengals' A.J. Green surprisingly didn't make the cut. His 7.7 YPA put him in the honorable mention category.

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Who wrote this garbage from SI???


We dont need Torrey to be a "STAR" consistancy out of Boldin, Torrey, Ptaa and Dixon is all we need, we have that theres not a team in the NFL that can defend them.


As far as the Stealers go, they just "keep on keeping on" ?? They will have the youngest O-Line in the AFCN, and in this division even the doormats in Ohio will punch you in the mouth..Bens going to be on his butt a hell of alot this season..Ive read Haley wants to implement more shot gun for the Stealers, please do, make that team one dimensional..Haley knows their weakness is the O-Line..And with Wallace holding out, I dont see the black & yellow "keep on keeping on"


And as far as the writer annointing the Bengals as the "up and coming team" did he see the last quarter of their season?

Did he just ignore the fact that the Bengals were 7-0 vs non playoff teams and 0-9 vs teams that made the playoffs?


Did he happen to look at the 2012 schedule and who the Bengals face?


WAY, WAY, WAY to early to annoint them the "up and coming team"

Edited by cravnravn
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The Steelers keep on keeping on, but us making the playoffs four years straight isn't a similar achievement?


I'm not gonna argue who's had more success, that's clear. The Steelers have won Super Bowls. However to view us as a team that isn't consistent? We went to the AFC championship game with a rookie QB!


Ahhhh well, it's always no lover in Bmore lol lol lol.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, Ramon Harewood for starting LT this season?


I think if anyone proves competent at LT, McKinnie will be gone. Just can't see them put up with this any longer. If they would have, they should have kept Gaither instead.

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