2017 NFL Season Preview- Baltimore Ravens
After almost having the AFC North title in hand, Baltimore fell hard back to earth to finish at .500.
The team lost to Pittsburgh in week 16 giving them the division title and then lost bad to a below .500 Cincinnati team to close out the year.
Despite setting a franchise record with 4,317 passing yards, quarterback Joe Flacco was erratic for much of the year throwing 20 touchdowns next to 15 interceptions. Most of his struggles stemmed from the offense abandoning the run game. Running backs Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon split time with the limited touches and combined for 1,156 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Despite missing the last two seasons with hip injuries, tight end Dennis Pitta played in all 16 games and finished with a career high 86 catches for 729 receiving yards. Wide receiver Steve Smith was the team's top receiver in his final NFL season. Mike Wallace lead the team with 1,017 yards receiving but is far from a complete receiver. The offensive line played well despite starting two rookies.
The defensive line help make the defense number one against the run for much of the year. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams has developed into one of the top interior linemen in the game while Timmy Jernigan has gained a reputation as a dominant run stopper. Linebacker Zach Orr was forced to retire due congenital neck/spine condition. Elvis Dummervil and Terrell Suggs are still the Raven's top two pass rushers but both are over 30. Cornerback Jimmy Smith missed four games with two separate injuries and the secondary struggled because of it.
Kicker Justin Tucker tied an NFL record with 10 straight field goals made from 50 yards or further and his only miss on the season came from a blocked kick.
The Ravens produced seven Pro Bowlers in fullback Kyle Juszczyk, guard Marshal Yanda, center Jeremy Zuttah, linebacker CJ Mosley, safety Eric Weddle, kicker Justin Tucker, and long snapper Morgan Cox. Juszczyk is capable of doing anything Baltimore needs from him whether it be running, receiving, or blocking. Yanda made his six straight Pro Bowl despite moving from right guard to left guard. Zuttah struggled for parts of the season but still was good enough to make the Pro Bowl. Mosley finished with 92 tackles and four interceptions to make his second trip. Weddle was as good as advertised after the team signed him as a free agent and finished with four interceptions and 89 tackles.
The rookie class has the potential to be special if they can stay healthy. Tackle Ronnie Stanley was the first rookie in franchise history to start at left tackle. Linebacker Kamalei Correa didn't have an immediate impact as a pass rusher and ended the year on injured reserve. Cornerback Tavon Young climbed the depth chart to become a regular starter early in the season.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 12th
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 9th
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 17th
NFL Rank- 7th
Finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the third time in four years, head coach John Harbaugh had some tough decisions to make with 12 potential free agents.
On March 9, running back Kenneth Dixon was suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. On July 25, it was revealed that Dixon had suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee. The injury required surgery, and 4-5 months to recover, forcing Dixon out for the 2017 season.
Notable Additions- RB Danny Woodhead, RB Bobby Rainey, WR Jeremy Maclin, CB Brandon Carr, CB Brandon Boykin, S Tony Jefferson
Notable Departures- FB Kyle Juszczyk, WR Steve Smith, WR Kamar Aiken, TE Dennis Pitta, G John Urschel, DT Timmy Jernigan, LB Zach Orr, LB Elvis Dummervil, CB Shareece Wright, CB Jerraud Powers, Kendrick Lewis, S Matt Elam
Ravens 2016 Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
Holding the 16th overall pick going into the draft, The Ravens had to make upgrades at key positions. Most importantly at wide receiver, linebacker, and defensive back.
Steve Smith is now retired and Kamar Aiken is now in Indianapolis. The team signed Jeremy Maclin but the team could still use more talent at the position.
Elvis Dummervil signed with San Francisco in the offseason and Terrell Suggs will turn 35 during the season. The Ravens need a young pass rusher that can learn under Suggs.
The secondary looked completely different without Jimmy Smith in the lineup. Baltimore needs another ball hawk the can make game changing interceptions.
When it came time to pick, Baltimore selected Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the 16th overall pick. Humphrey has an exciting combination of size, speed, and physicality but is limited to playing outside and not in the slot.
The Ravens also notably drafted Houston outside linebacker Tyus Bowser in the second round, Michigan defensive tackle Chris Wormley and Alabama defensive end Tim Williams in the third, and San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa in the fourth. Bowser has great quickness for the position but lacks the core strength as a pass rusher. Wormley has great quickness given his size but tends to be inconsistent in his pass rushing techniques. Williams was seen as the top pass rushing defensive end prospect in the draft but is still working on tools as a run defender. Siragusa was praised for his work ethic, accountability, and toughness but isn't technically sound given his experience.
Marlon Humphrey Highlights
What to Expect
If it weren't for losing three of their last four games in 2016, we would be talking about Baltimore as AFC North champs.
The main objective should be for Kew Flacco to remain consistent and reduce his interceptions numbers. A main part of that should be to have a more consistent running game. Signing Danny Woodhead and Bobby Rainey to go along with Terrance West should help a lot with that. Adding Jeremy Maclin gives the team a productive number one receiver that will get a lot of targets, as well as open up opportunities for Mike Wallace and Breshard Perriman. The team will miss Dennis Pitta so that burden will fall on Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams to replace his production. The retirement of John Urschel was a surprise but Nico Siragusa os more than capable of stepping in to fill the void.
With Timmy Jernigan now in Philadelphia, Chris Wormley will have to step up and replace Jernigan's production against the run. Tim Williams looks to the part of a pass rusher and can learn a lot playing alongside Terrell Suggs. Marlon Humphrey has the potential to be an excellent complement to Jimmy Smith and also can bring some value in the return game.
Baltimore was the only AFC North team that could challenge Pittsburgh in 2016. If the Ravens can stay healthy, it could come down between them and the Steelers for the division title.
Best record they can hope for: 10-6