What happened to the Ravens? They were the model of consistency, making the playoffs every year. They’ve made the playoffs just once in the last 4 years and went 8-8 last year. Can they rebound and make the playoffs this year? Let’s take a look:
Joe Flacco had his best year statistically last year, passing for 4,317 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he also had 15 interceptions. He missed most of training camp with a back injury. The offense was very pass-heavy last season. Will that continue this season? The wide receiver group will miss Steve Smith Sr., but Jeremy Maclin should be an adequate replacement. Mike Wallace had 1,017 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns last year, and he’s expected to put up similar numbers this year. Will 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman finally blossom as a deep threat? He hasn’t had success yet, but this could be his year.
The running back group will hurt with Kenneth Dixon out all year with a knee injury. This leaves Terrance West on early downs and Danny Woodhead on passing downs. Losing Dennis Pitta to injury did not help the tight end group that features Crockett Gillmore, Ben Watson and Maxx Williams . Gillmore is listed as the starter but it’s not clear how this will shake out. The offensive line is in flux with the loss of C Jeremy Zutah and RT Ricky Wagner. Many new starters could mean trouble for the unit.
The defense is a clear strength of this team and is as good as it’s been in a while. Nose Tackles Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce are excellent against the run. Free agent signings safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr should help with the secondary. Terrell Suggs is still a beast, but he is 34 so he might see less snaps. Drafting defense in the first 4 picks of this years draft (Marlon Humphrey, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, Chris Wormley) should inject youth into the defense.
Losing ILB Zach Orr hurts, and now the job goes to 2016 2nd round pick Kamalei Correa . Correa didn’t do much last year so this is a question mark.
Justin Tucker is one of the best placekickers in the NFL and if the offense disappoints, they might have to rely on his leg to put up points.
The offense has some major question marks and will make or break this season. Flacco’s health is a question mark and if he can’t play, they’re doomed. The defense is very good and will keep them in games, but if the offense doesn’t put up enough points, it’s going to be a long season. I predict the record will be 7-9.
Photo Credits: Ebony Bird
Lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan here.