2014 NFL Season Preview- Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens followed their 2012 Super Bowl winning season with a disappointing 8-8 record in 2013. This marked the first year in the John Harbaugh era where the team failed to make the playoffs.
The offense ranked 29th in the NFL in total yards. Quarterback Joe Flacco had his worst season as a pro after signing a $120 million contract. Flacco threw a franchise worst 22 interceptions and only 19 touchdowns. Running back Ray Rice also had his worst season rushing for only 660 yards and the team finished 30th in the league in rushing and last in yards per carry.
The defense performed well after of the departure of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but wasn't enough in most cases. Middle linebacker Daryl Smith led the team tackles but didn't bring the leadership role to the position. Rookie safety Matt Elam played well at the line, but failed to make the impact plays that Ed Reed made with the team.
The rest of the rookie class was just as disappointing. Linebacker Arthur Brown didn't make a starting job but performed well when in coverage. Linebacker John Simon spent the year on special teams after an unimpressive preseason.
Ravens 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 30th
NFL Rank- 12th
NFL Rank- 11th
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 12th
Head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome saw the 2013 campaign as a short window of failure. The two agreed the team they have is a playoff caliber team, it just needs a few more weapons to get back to the Ravens winning ways.
With Jim Caldwell leaving the team to become the head coach in Detroit, the team hired former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak to be the new offensive coordinator. This offensive change will focus heavily on the run which the team hopes will give Ray Rice a bounce back year.
During the offseason, five members of the Ravens team were arrested. Most notably, Ray Rice was charged with assaulting his fiancé in an Atlantic City casino.
Notable additions- RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith, TE Owen Daniels,
Notable departures- FB Vonta Leach, T Michael Oher, TE Dallas Clark
Ravens vs. Vikings Highlight
2014 NFL Draft
By having the 17th pick in the draft, the Ravens looked to add depth in many areas. Mostly at wide receiver, offensive line, and tight end.
Torrey Smith has shown to be one of the greatest deep threats in the league and amassed over 1,000 yards on the season. The offense needs a receiver to compliment Smith to take away double coverage and also a reliable third down receiver.
The offensive line allowed 48 sacks on the year and failed to open up any running lanes for Ray Rice. Guard Marshal Yanda made the Pro Bowl, but the rest of the line was average at best.
The tight end position was a mess the entire season. Dennis Pitta was injured all season, Ed Dickson's hands were very inconsistent, and Dallas Clark is no longer with the team. The position needs younger depth in order to be successful.
When it came time for Baltimore to pick, they selected Alabama middle linebacker C.J. Mosley with the 17th pick. Mosley was seen as the top middle linebacker in the draft and was praised for his ability to read and react from the play. The big knock on him was his frame leads people to worry about his durability at the pro level.
The team also drafted Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan in the second round. Jernigan was considered to be the most explosive interior lineman in the draft but his size may force him to play defensive end at the pro level.
C.J. Mosley Highlights
What to Expect
With the addition of Steve Smith, the Ravens now have a receiver to complement Torrey Smith. And by adding Owen Daniels, the team has a reliable tight end to pair with Dennis Pitta. The running game is still in question. The departure of Michael Oher raises questions on whether or not the line is physical enough to run the ball at will. Not to mention the off-field issue of Ray Rice and the team doesn't have a running back that's as versatile as Rice.
C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan will do nothing but help this defense. Mosley will take charge of the middle linebacker position and bring youth and speed to the defense. Jernigan will likely be moved to defensive end alongside nose tackle Haloti Nagata and Chris Canty to make an effective 3-4 defensive line.
The big thing to expect this season is improvement. If you're a Ravens fan, expect Joe Flacco to have a bounce back year. With the weapons he has now, there's no way he can throw nearly as many interceptions as he did. But, with the effectiveness of the running game in question due to the offensive line's physicality and Ray Rice's offseason arrest, I can't say that the team is the favorite to win the AFC North. They have the potential to make the playoffs, but most likely as a wild card team.
Best record they can hope for- 9-7