Regardless of which team wins today’s game, the 8-8 Baltimore Ravens are still the Super Bowl Champions – until sometime around 10 pm Eastern Standard Time tonight. In the intervening hours Ravens fans can re-live last year’s glory, commiserate about this year’s woes or enjoy a stress-free Super Bowl while hoping for greener pastures next year. While the first two options have merit, I highly recommend the third option for the Ravens faithful.
The Ravens’ needs for next year are already well documented. They begin with the offensive line, a possession receiver, a pass rusher and perhaps even another running back. Regardless of Ozzie’s rhetoric about “the best player on the board” you can be sure that the Ravens’ front office will be focusing their draft efforts on the priorities listed above.
In fact, Ozzie and company have already taken a major step toward offensive consistency by hiring Gary Kubiak as the team’s new offensive coordinator. If Mr Kubiak can revitalize the Baltimore running attack as he did at Houston, and spark up a short passing game, the Ravens stand a better than even chance of playing football in January of 2015.
To be sure, the Ravens squad that takes the field next September will look substantially different than the one that started this year’s campaign in Denver. Names like Oher and Dickson probably won’t be wearing purple and black next year. There’s a possibility that Raven stalwarts like Suggs and Jacoby Jones won’t be back. For good or bad, whatever team strides through the tunnel on opening day they’ll be led by folks with names like Monroe, D. Smith, Flacco, Rice, T. Smith, Tucker, and M. Brown.
This is a core group that any NFL squad would be happy to build around.
Whatever happens to the 2014 Ravens, we’ll find out soon. Free agency moves have already begun and the draft is just around the corner. Before you know it OTAs will begin. Soon afterwards, fans will dig through drawers and closets for their Ravens gear in preparation for the pre-season games. And then, then we’ll see what Ozzie, Harbaugh, Kubiak and Pees can dial up for the 2014 season.
Until then, Ravens fans can enjoy a stress-free Super Bowl that promises to be an outstanding clash between two great teams. We can root for Denver or Seattle tonight, but we can don our purple and black for one more evening of the 2013 season and know that in our hearts we’re just warming up for 2014.