This is just a season preview that I’ve put together for a series at No Logo Needed, that Browns blog run by Don Delco that I’ve done numerous guest posts for. This one is a team preview, and will not be up on his site until the last week of August, so this is an exclusive just for all you. How exciting is that?!?!?!? So, it was just a series of questions and I answered them.
Baltimore Ravens Season Preview
Head Coach: John Harbaugh (2nd year)
2008 Record:11-5, AFC Championship Berth
Key Players Lost: LB Bart Scott, FB Lorenzo Neal, CB Chris McAllister, S Jim Leohnard, C Jason Brown, K Matt Stover
Key Players Acquired via Free Agency: C Matt Birk, CB Domonique Foxworth, CB/KR Chris Carr, TE L.J. Smith
Key Players Acquired via Draft: T Michael Oher (1st round), DE Paul Kruger (2nd round), CB/KR Lardarius Webb (3rd round)
Biggest Storyline of ’09: The main thing that fans and other teams will be watching in Baltimore is how well the team adjusts to so many personnel changes this offseason. They will look to see if Mad Backer (Scott) can be replaced as well as other linebackers have been in the past. They will see if Rex Ryan can be replaced as easily as Mike Nolan and Marvin Lewis were before him. Other teams will hope that Domonique Foxworth and Fabian Washington can’t replicate the incredible talent and performance of All-Pro Chris McAllister and that rookie Michael Oher won’t make them regret that they passed him up in April’s draft.
Strengths/Weaknesses on Offense:
Strengths: The Ravens had a top 5 ground game last year, and through various statistical analyses, Joe Flacco has been proven a better decision maker than Matt Ryan , at least for last year, and the offense prides itself on not turning the ball over often.
Weaknesses: No proven #1 or #2 wide receivers were signed this offseason, although they did add Kelley Washington, who has impressive so far in camp. While Joe Flacco needs to continue to grow his passing skills with better support around Derrick Mason, OC Cam Cameron might be forced to go to the running game more than last year. The offensive line is also very talented and deep, but none of the have had significant time starting in the NFL except Matt Birk and Ben Grubbs.
Strengths/Weakness on Defense:
Strengths: They have two of the best defensive players of all-time, in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, and a few other of the league’s best defensive players, in Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. The defense always creates tons of turnovers and prove every game that they are a step above the other team’s offense. Almost no strengths specifically, just so good all around.
Weaknesses: The predicted weakness is that the secondary (cough…cornerbacks) won’t be as good as the team needs them to be. Watching every game, I think that the cornerback group is very capable, led by underappreciated star Fabian Washington and supporting cast Domonique Foxworth, Samari Rolle, Chris Carr and LarDarius Webb. This will be the make-or-break part of the defense for 2009.
Expectations for ’09: Playoffs. Simple as that. Playoffs are expected every year here.
Prediction for ’09: 11-5 or 10-6, a wild card berth and at least one playoff win, hopefully four.