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Team needs: Baltimore Ravens

Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Ravens came tantalizingly close to a Super Bowl appearance in 2011, and several key players responded to the disappointment with determination.  Then came free agency, with starting guard Ben Grubbs and linebacker Jarret Johnson and other key contributors moving on.  The Ravens need to fill those holes and also to lay the foundation for a future without some of their star players.

Interior offensive line:  Grubbs chased the cash to New Orleans, where he’ll fill the vacancy created by the departure of Carl Nicks.  Unless the Ravens add a free agent, they’ll be relying on a young player to replace Grubbs.  The question is whether they go with one of the guys currently on the roster — or whether they fill the spot with a rookie.  The Ravens also need to be thinking about life without center Matt Birk.  Even though he plans to play two more years after pondering retirement, it would make sense to have his successor on the roster now, so that he can learn from one of the best centers of the past generation.

Linebacker:  Both on the outside and the inside, the Ravens need linebackers for the present and the future.  Johnson must be replaced in 2012, and Ray Lewis eventually will need to be.  Plenty of Ravens fans are fascinated by the possibility that their favorite team will take a shot on Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict, who would benefit greatly from the direct influence of one of the greatest inside linebackers of all time.

Receiver:  With Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, the Ravens arguably have their best tandem of starting wideouts in franchise history.  Behind them, the Ravens don’t have much of anything.  A large-bodied, sure-handed player like Boldin would be a good addition, given that the 31-year-old Boldin will be hitting the end of the road long before Smith.

Safety:  Ed Reed has mused about retirement in the past.  He’s now creating the impression that he plans to keep going.  Either way, the Ravens need to be ready for the day when Reed is done.  It likely will come without much warning.

Left tackle:  Bryant McKinnie fell into their laps last year after the Vikings decided they’d had enough.  Pleased with performance but leery about his attitude and conditioning, the Ravens have decided to keep McKinnie for another year.  They need to have someone else ready to go, or they’ll be scrambling like the Vikings did once the Ravens decide they’ve had enough of McKinnie.

The Ravens have every reason to think they’ll get back to the playoffs in 2012, for the fifth straight season.  And they could win at least one postseason game, also for the fifth straight season.  But they still have some key areas of the roster that need to be addressed before they can take the next step and play for the team’s first Super Bowl win since 2000.

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27 Responses to “Team needs: Baltimore Ravens”
  1. wvuraven says: Apr 22, 2012 8:53 PM

    How is kicker not a team need?

  2. rubbernilly says: Apr 22, 2012 9:22 PM

    Might want to correct this:

    A large-bodied, sure-handed player like Boldin would be a good addition, given that the 31-year-old Boldin will be hitting the end of the road long before Smith.

    I’m thinking you meant Blackmon.

  3. kilo0986 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:10 PM

    They dont need anything, they got the best qb in the league! Right?! Right?!

  4. discosucs2005 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:25 PM

    How many “you forgot QB” jokes are there going be?

    Also, I’m fairly certain the post for Ed Reed was copy and pasted from the post on Troy Polamalu.

  5. rubbernilly says: Apr 22, 2012 10:27 PM

    Hmm… now that I reread it, maybe you meant Boldin, after all.

  6. 92and94and51and56 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:29 PM

    Doesn’t matter what the Ravens do this off-season, they still won’t make it to the Super Bowl. Last year was the best shot they’re going to get for awhile and they Flacced it up.

  7. jwayne111 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:35 PM

    How about you coaches let Flacco “show” himself this year…actually RUN the offense. He wants a contract? EARN IT Flacco; complete more than 60% – read defenses and audible – be the face of Baltimore with the defense behind ya! like Roth, Brees, Brady, Eli. (thats who your agent has ya with) even your draft partner Matt R. takes command of his offense when he walks on and at the line of scrim.

    Good Luck…Make media talk about what you do, and not say. They’ll write about Flaccos offense and not Harbaughs, write about Flaccos stats and not Rays and Eds defense.

  8. qj1984 says: Apr 22, 2012 10:42 PM

    The Ravens seem to like Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams. They are no names right now but you know what this site wasn’t to high on Torrey Smith last offseason either. PFT basically reported that the Ravens were doomed if they didn’t add another veteran receiver. Look how that turned out.

  9. cheers4ablumpkin says: Apr 22, 2012 10:56 PM

    Braylon Edwards would be great

  10. steelcityrapist says: Apr 22, 2012 10:57 PM

    STEELERS SUCK!

    WHO DEY !

  11. jacobslatter says: Apr 22, 2012 11:00 PM

    Dude man like look at the look in Ray Lewis’ eyes a competitor second to none. He could just kill for a championship.

  12. reed20fence says: Apr 22, 2012 11:03 PM

    They don’t mean Blackmon. They mean Reuben Randle.

  13. steelymcbeam6 says: Apr 22, 2012 11:55 PM

    Being a steelers fans I hate the ravens but I respect the hell out of that team. Win or lose those are the best games to watch all year and is by far the best rivalry in football. Can’t wait to do it at least twice more next year.

  14. randallflagg52 says: Apr 23, 2012 12:56 AM

    Johnson doesn’t need to be replaced at OLB. They let him walk knowing that they have at least 2 guys to step up in Paul Kruger and Sergio Kindle.

    Now whether or not Kindle needs to be replaced is a different story…

  15. swagger52 says: Apr 23, 2012 12:59 AM

    Team needs:

    For Flacco to get lots of first down by illegal contact on third and long – like Brady.

    Ravens can’t even get a review in the endzone for a TD, but lets go all out and ask for a Walt Coleman style of ending a game.

    A Patriot’s schedule.

  16. 4thquartermagic says: Apr 23, 2012 1:37 AM

    Considering Joe Flacco believes he’s better then Joe Montana and John Elway combined, the only team need for the Ravens is more space in the trophy case.

  17. 92and94and51and56 says: Apr 23, 2012 1:38 AM

    Dude man like look at the look in Ray Lewis’ eyes a competitor second to none. He could just kill.

    FIXED.

  18. kantnockdahustle89 says: Apr 23, 2012 4:31 AM

    Unless they knock the draft out of the park its going to be a rough year for the Ravens. They definitely have a tough schedule and lost some big players.

    LB and OL will be the biggest questions this upcoming season. All the other positions they have are pretty solid. They also improved on special teams which has been a weak point for them in the past few years (not talking kicker). Also look for former first round pick LB/DE Sergio Kindle to make an impression now that hes healthy.

  19. raqaiw says: Apr 23, 2012 7:15 AM

    kantnockdahustle89 says: Apr 23, 2012 4:31 AM

    Unless they knock the draft out of the park its going to be a rough year for the Ravens. They definitely have a tough schedule and lost some big players.
    ______________________________________

    1. You can’t do a thing about the schedule except play who you’re assigned, so everyone has a tough schedule.

    2. Outside of Grubbs and JJ, who’d they lose that was a “big player”?

    Grubbs – 2nd best LG in football i.e. “big player”
    Johnson – very good run defending OLB, little pass rush, was getting replaced by Kruger on pass downs
    Nakamura – backup safety, good on special teams
    Zibikowski – same as Nakamura, filled in well when Reed was out
    Redding – good run defending 3-4 DE, not much pass rush, was getting replaced regularly by McPhee who was second on the team in sacks.
    Foxworth(less) – Played one good season, then was constantly hurt.
    Evans – Never been hurt before, got hurt last year. Will forever live in B-more sports infamy for that dropped pass.
    Carr – was the best corner on the roster in years past. The play of Webb/Williams/Smith made him expendable.

  20. humbleminded85 says: Apr 23, 2012 8:18 AM

    4thquartermagic says: Apr 23, 2012 1:37 AM

    Considering Joe Flacco believes he’s better then Joe Montana and John Elway combined, the only team need for the Ravens is more space in the trophy case.
    —————————————————
    Maybe if you actually watched the 3 min interview in its’ actual context, you will then see how ignorant and stupid your comments are. They asked him does he think he can be the best, he said yes. They asked him if he could be a “top 5″ QB…and he said yes. He didn’t cut the interviewer off from the start and say” let me now tell you why I’m the best”. He did what any fan of a team would want to hear from there QB. He was humble and confidant. No more no less. He never mentioned past players, but you would have to actually watch it before you let the media make up your mind of what he said and I wouldn’t expect you to do that. That would make to much sense, right?

  21. theravenlives2 says: Apr 23, 2012 8:24 AM

    Being a steelers fans I hate the ravens but I respect the hell out of that team. Win or lose those are the best games to watch all year and is by far the best rivalry in football. Can’t wait to do it at least twice more next year.

    —————————————————-
    I hate to say it, but -as a Ravens fan – I said the same thing about the Steelers yesterday. We have the best rivalry in football. I hate those suckers – but I do respect them.

  22. xxsweepthelegxx says: Apr 23, 2012 8:51 AM

    swagger52 says:
    Apr 23, 2012 12:59 AM
    Team needs:

    For Flacco to get lots of first down by illegal contact on third and long – like Brady.

    Ravens can’t even get a review in the endzone for a TD, but lets go all out and ask for a Walt Coleman style of ending a game.

    A Patriot’s schedule.
    —————-
    Cry me a river dude. At the BEGINNING of last season…the Pats had one of the hardest, if not THE hardest schedules. And guess what, it ended up being one of the easiest…it means NOTHING in preseason. Did the 49ers look good on the schedule before last year…yes? Well they went 13-3… Too much is made out of the schedule…every year 4-5 NEW teams make the playoffs…every year is different.

  23. rockthered1286 says: Apr 23, 2012 8:51 AM

    Let’s put the ILB need to rest: with Ray Lewis out of the lineup for 3 games last year, McClain did the play calling. Result? 3-0.Analysts at the time started to question whether Ray was a liability out there. McClain is back, Oz got him back for a great deal and I foresee that need being filled (from a leadership/playcalling/audible role).

    Otherwise, Kruger replaces JJ, McPhee replaces Redding, I like Jah Reid moving into the guard spot for a year (shades of Ogden?) Ant Allen replaces Ricky, and Carr was expendable. Needs in my opinion? WR, C/G, S, ILB. All can come in as backups this year, none needed to start immediately. Thats a good position to be in.

  24. opneon says: Apr 23, 2012 11:55 AM

    Everyone mocked Eli last year for saying he was a Top 5 QB…so I guess Flacco was just trying the same…because we know how well that ended.
    He doesn’t always look the sharpest (like Eli) but if he had a couple catches, like Tyree’s or Manningham’s, from Lee Evans or all the important misses by Boldin, Mason, Clayton, etc, etc mostly against the Steelers, he would be respected just as much. He has quietly put them in position so many times and had the perfect pass dropped so many times that you start to wonder about his luck more than his skill. But both Manning bros and Trent Dilfer have shown it is eventually possible. I’m not saying he is great – but he also doesn’t deserve the stupid comments made about him.

  25. ballinmore says: Apr 23, 2012 1:56 PM

    The Ravens must have lost more players than I realized? Ben Grubbs will hurt but he was out for 4 games last year and his spot was filled rather well by Andre Gurode (who hasn’t been signed to my knowledge). I would think if they don’t pick someone in the draft they will fill it again with him or someone similar.

    JJ is a tough loss at OLB but Kruger had been doing a nice job on the pass rush filling in and Kindle will finally get a chance to see if he can play or not. Should be an interesting training camp battle and I can’t imagine not adding an OLB in the draft.

    The rest of the guys don’t need replaced or have been replaced via free agency with the special teams guys. They need another WR and RB in the draft. An MLB and a safety would be nice to have. Seems like the idea year to trade out of the first to early in the second and pick up an additional late round pick if a starter isn’t available in the first round.

    The schedule seems tough but who knows and who cares. Only beef I have with it is that they got a few oddly scheduled games like vs NE on Sunday night and vs the Browns 4 days later on Thursday night. Combine that with a stretch of @Pitt, @SD, vs Pitt and it seems like more thought could have went in but that’s not for us to decide.

  26. xinellum says: Apr 25, 2012 2:58 PM

    Flacco bashers, what a shock. He outplayed Brady in the championship game by far. He is a victim of Cam Cameron and Cam’s hit and miss offense. Flacco in a different system would show far better stats. But it is not about stats. I think that getting to the playoff 4 years in a row (the only qb to do that counts for something) or winning a playoff game in 4 straight years (something no other NFL qb in the history of the game has done also counts for something), and he doesn’t play for stats, he plays to win. He has the won more games than any other qb in the time he has been in the league. Wow, what are the bashers talkign about? That Lee Evans dropped the winning championship pass or that Cundiff missed a chip shot that since Baltimore had the momentum would have put them in a winning spot. You can blame Flacco for everything from the SF earthquake to the Chicago fire, but I am a fan of a team that keeps getting to the playoffs and I have season tickets so when 24 of the teams go home, for the last four years, we are still playing football. Thanks Joe, these fools are just that…fools.

  27. jimiinpa says: Apr 26, 2012 7:29 PM

    in ozz we trust…. nuff said

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