Ravens: Is this their best roster under John Harbaugh?


May 28, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh speaks after the OTA at the Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Since John Harbaugh took over as the Baltimore Ravens’ head coach, the team has made the playoffs six of the last seven years. Harbaugh and GM Ozzie Newsome have been excellent collaborators, continuously moving and adding pieces to keep the team on the right track. However, while all of Harbaugh’s teams have been loaded with talent, this season’s squad may very well be the best the organization has ever seen.

Since 2008, quarterback Joe Flacco has been the cornerstone of the Ravens offense. Since week one of his rookie year, Flacco has yet to miss a start. He is reliable, consistent, and unbreakable. However, he is getting a bit older, and the lack of an injury history does not mean that he will never miss time.

For the last four years, the Ravens had a below average backup QB in 2011 6th round pick Tyrod Taylor. When Taylor’s contract ran out, the team decided it was time to move on. Knowing that they need a more reliable backup QB, they went out and signed former pro bowler Matt Schaub to back up Flacco. Schaub is the best backup QB the team has had since Marc Bulger in 2010. If Flacco goes down, the team can feel confident knowing that they have a reliable second option.

Throughout the Harbaugh era, the Ravens have never recycled an entire offensive line from the previous season. With a lot of players coming and going, the line never seems to have fluidity. This season will be the first time that all five starters will be returning. With two of the best guards in the league (Yanda and Osemele) and one of the best right tackles in the league (Wagner), the Ravens look to be picking up right where they left off.

Aug 22, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Baltimore Ravens take the field to start a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 40-17. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the starters, the backups have shown that they can hold their own when called on. Second year guard John Urschel started three games last season, and he proved that he can get the job done. Second year left tackle James Hurst also has shown that he can come in and play well enough if starter Eugene Monroe goes down. With the pieces the Ravens have on the roster, this offensive line could be the best unit the Ravens have.

Last year, the Ravens’ secondary went into the season completely unprepared. After losing third CB Corey Graham to free agency, the team thought that they could promote from within. However, this turned out to be their downfall.

Starter Lardarius Webb spent the entire preseason and first three games recovering from an injury suffered in camp, and when he did play, he was a shell of his former dominant self. Also, rising star Jimmy Smith went down with a foot injury after only eight games, and he did not return.

The Ravens patched up the holes with free agents, career backups, and even safeties, but they could not hold up well enough to stay alive. In the divisional playoff round, Patriots’ QB Tom Brady picked the secondary apart, leading to the Ravens’ elimination.

More from Ravens News

In the offseason, the Ravens knew they had to patch up the secondary. After the woes of last season, they went into the offseason with an agenda. They signed UFA Kendrick Lewis away from the Texans. Despite the Ravens usual preference of not signing UFAs and instead signing recently released players, Lewis was just too good to pass up. He will step in right away at free safety and will add a ballhawking presence to the defense.

Also, the Ravens signed CB Kyle Arrington away from the Patriots. Arrington has been a major part of the Patriots success over the last few years. His best year was 2011, in which he had 7 interceptions. Arrington immediately improves the Ravens’ CB troupe, and he will make inevitable losses easier to deal with. With these two signings, as well as a healthy Jimmy Smith returning from injury, this secondary looks to be the deepest in recent years.

The Ravens have always been a team that knows how to stay on the winning track, regardless of what players or coaches they lose. With all the pieces the team has this season, they look to be better than ever. Look for a monster season from the entire team.

Next: Latest Ravens final roster prediction

More from Ebony Bird