Ravens fans have had the good fortune of witnessing two Super Bowl victories in the team’s short history, which is comforting considering some teams have gone decades without one. The good news is they have a strong nucleus that will enable them to keep competing for another in the coming years.
Good coaches and franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by, and the birds are lucky enough to have both. A strong defense has also been key, in spite of coordinator changes over the years. The team also isn’t afraid to go young, as only a handful of players remain from the 2012 Super Bowl team.
So how can the team rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2013 season and hoist the Lombardi trophy once again? Here are the five things the Ravens must do to win the Super Bowl.
1. The offensive line has to play better.
The Ravens didn’t really do much in the draft or free agency to address their o-line woes from last year. Locking up Eugene Monroe helps, and letting Michael Oher go isn’t much of a loss considering his bust status. But Flacco got sacked 48 times last year, so one could argue they didn’t do enough to shore things up. It seems like the team is confident they can scheme this problem away.
2. The running game has to reemerge.
It was obvious to anyone last season that the running game is broken. Again, we can at least partially blame the offensive line. Holes were nonexistent. Heck, even Barry Sanders might have had a down year behind that line. The addition of a zone blocking scheme and recommitting to the run is bound to help, but Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce need to stay on the field. Hopefully fourth round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro can step in and contribute right away.
3. Flacco needs better protection.
Again, the o-line (sense a theme here?). Flacco has a big arm and an imposing deep threat in Torrey Smith but it takes time to set up big plays. And a running game that picks up chunks of yards to draw safeties in. And let’s face it, Flacco isn’t winning any foot races out there.
4. A new leader must arise.
The Ravens have had the luxury of having some of the greatest leaders of any team in history. Ray Lewis perhaps being the best ever. But his absence last year was visibly felt and no one really stepped up to take his place in the locker room or on the field. Picking up Steve Smith was hopefully a step in the right direction.
5. Young players must grow up fast.
The team is counting on it’s young players to play major roles this year. The d-line is ripe with young talent. Arthur Brown looks to be healthy and ready to contribute. As previously mentioned, Taliaferro might end up playing more than expected. Some teams, like the 49ers, can draft with a eye to the future. The Ravens don’t have that luxury right now.
What do you think the Ravens need to do to win another Super Bowl?