NFL.com detailed what the AFC North will have to do once the lockout ends. While it looks like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will maintain dominance in the division, the team that does the best during free agency will most likely have the upper edge.
The three main things that the Ravens must do are as follows:
Improve the pass rush: The Ravens tied for 27th in the NFL in sacks with just 27 in 2010. They need another guy besides Terrell Suggs to come through. Maybe it’s Sergio Kindle coming off a head injury, but maybe the Ravens need to look outside the organization. They aren’t the only team searching for the same type of player. I wonder if Jason Taylor on a one-year deal would be a decent fit. He did have five sacks last year and 12 over the last two seasons. Ben Roethlisberger has beaten the Ravens five consecutive times, and even though they seem to get to him with a pass rush, he still has nine touchdown passes in those five games.
Re-sign Landry and Yanda: Ed Reed is a future Hall-of-Fame player, but he’s missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Dawan Landry holds the secondary together when Reed is out. There will be a rookie corner, Jimmy Smith, starting this year and a veteran safety like Landry will be critical to Smith’s success. Landry is usually in on close to 95 tackles a season. Not every defensive back in free agency would be a fit with the Ravens, and understanding how to support Reed is a big part of the job.
Marshal Yanda is a solid guard that really helps the running game go and protect quarterback Joe Flacco. There’s no doubt Yanda is on the radar screen of a few clubs, but the Ravens have always had good luck re-signing their own. The guard market is very good this year and teams better get ready to spend some real cash on the top guys.
Look for some veteran backups: Baltimore needs a solid veteran behind Flacco. Last year, the Ravens paid a lot for Marc Bulgerto do the job and he might go to a place where he can play. I wonder if they would bring back Troy Smith. A veteran right tackle might be important to avoid putting a rookie like Jah Reid on the field too early. Maybe Damien Woody for a year would be a good idea.
I believe this list pretty much sums it up. The Ravens pass rush has been lacking as of recent and it must improve if the Ravens are to make a playoff push. If Jimmy Smith plays to expectations, the Ravens can blitz more people without having to second guess the secondary. Additionally, Sergio Kindle looks to contribute significantly next year. Minor tweaks here and there should turn the Ravens defense into a force to be reckoned with.
The offensive line definitely needs work. After Jared Gaither went down, the Ravens didn’t seem to be the same team running the ball. Keeping what they already have intact, while also adding a guy like Jah Reid could be what it takes to revamp the Ravens running attack.
The Ravens are a young team on offense. Adding some veteran players to mentor younger one would help immensely as experience will help the youth perform better. There are plenty of veterans on the market so it shouldn’t be difficult to grab some players for a good price.
Tags: AFC North Anquan Boldin Baltimore Ravens Derrick Mason Ebony Bird Ed Reed FanSided Haloti Ngata Jared Gaither Joe Flacco Michael Oher NFL NFL Lockout Pittsburgh Steelers Ray Lewis Ray Rice Sergio Kindle Terrell Suggs