The Raven’s Preseason has come to an end and we’re 3 days away from the Baltimore Ravens kicking off the season on the road against the Denver Broncos in Denver. The Ravens had some ups and downs over the course of the preseason going 2-2 in their 4 games. Now that all the games have been played we can go through and look at 5 things that we have learned from the Baltimore Ravens during this preseason.
1) Joe Flacco needs to get on the same page as his wide receivers
As much as Raven’s fans want to believe that the starting offense will be fine, the Preseason showed us that there was a lot of work to be done with the starting offense and some of these problems need to get worked out sooner rather than later. I’m not going to sit here and harp about how the Ravens should have held on to Anquan Boldin, or how they should have gone after a big name star during free agency. I believe that the Ravens have enough talent at the receiver position to succeed. He did not develop a good rhythm with Jacoby Jones or Dallas Clark. I expect that one of the Raven’s rookie wide receivers lower on the depth chart is going to have to step up have a big season in order to replace Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin’s production from last season. I imagine that the Ravens might have a rough couple of weeks in the passing game before they get things clicking.
2) The Raven’s rookies have a lot of potential to have big seasons
The Ravens have a good group of rookies on this season’s roster. All of them have a ton of potential to break out and have fantastic seasons. Matt Elam and Arthur Brown are not starters yet but I think that it is safe to say that the first two picks for the Baltimore Ravens will be starting by the bye week. Some of the undrafted Ravens also have impressed enough to earn roster spots. Marlon Brown and Anthony Mellette have a great opportunity to continue to perform and earn more playing time and have very productive seasons for the Baltimore Ravens. With all of the departures from the team during the offseason there are a lot more opportunities to be had for the younger guys who want to come in and impress.
3) The Defense is poised to have a big year.
The starting defense had a good preseason and the guys who are supposed to take over as leaders look ready to do so. The likes of Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and Ladarius Webb look ready to become the backbone of the defense with the departure of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. The Ravens also look like they have done a good job at filling out the positions of need on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve brought in Daryl Smith to play the inside linebacker position and that move is looking like it is going to be a brilliant one. I’ve been saying all offseason that bringing in Elvis Dumervil was the best move that the Ravens made the entire offseason because of his elite level talent and the fact that the Ravens are paying him less money than Paul Kruger is making in Cleveland is ridiculously brilliant. The only real question that I have about the defense is the second Cornerback position. I dont think Jimmy Smith is going to develop into the shutdown corner that the Ravens thought he was going to be. He had issues all preseason with communication and positioning and he was constantly picked on during the preseason. I think that he is going to have to step up on Thursday or else an elite level quarterback like Peyton Manning is going to pick on him all game.
4) The Offensive Line is going to be rock solid.
The Ravens have a lot of talent on the offensive line. 4 out of 5 positions are locked in and look fantastic. Those are the tackle and guard positions. The center position is still a little shaky, but I think with Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele on either side of Gino Gradkowski he will have a ton of help picking up some assignments while he learns to run the line. The starting offensive line looks good though and its all going to ride on Marshal Yanda I think.
5) The Ravens have enough talent to make the playoffs.
The Ravens lost a lot of people on both sides of the ball. They’ve replaced the departures with very solid players who I feel will be able to at least replicate last season’s production of the individuals who left. We have one of the best running backs in the league, I think one of the best offensive lines in the league to lead the way, a quarterback who has won a superbowl and has a proven ability to win football games. We have some very talented receivers despite losing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta we still have a lot of players who can come down with the ball and pick up yards. I think someone, anyone is going to have to step up and take advantage of all the attention Torrey Smith is going to get. Torrey Smith is going to see a lot of double teams. That’s not much of a surprise. The Ravens need someone to take advantage of that. It can be done with really clever play calling by the coaching staff. I think that is where our wins are going to come from. The players are going to play their hardest, there are a ton of players on the team that dont quit. It is the coaching staff that is going to have to get these guys prepared and that is going to have to make sure they have the right kind of game plan to win.