The 2013 NFL season for the Baltimore Ravens will resemble a college new student orientation where John Harbaugh will need to hand out the “Hello my name is” name tags for all of the changes the team made this off season. This is strange for a team that is also the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
Harbaugh, along with long time GM Ozzie Newsome, have been hard at work building a team that lost players all over the field. Gone on defense are leaders Ray Lewis to retirement, Ed Reed to the Houston Texans, Paul Krueger (Browns) and Danell Ellerbe (Miami), while on offense Anquan Boldin traded to San Francisco. These losses are big for many reasons, but the main one is losing leaders on the field, and they'll now need new direction and people to follow.
Their newly re-signed leading man is QB Joe Flacco. The former first round selection out of Delaware signed a mega contract to keep him in Raven purple and black for the next six years and $120 million dollars. But as they say, with money comes responsibility. Can Flacco come from behind Lewis and provide the leadership these new players are going to need? Time will tell.
For Newsome and Harbaugh, they had a very good draft and free agent season as they were able to fill many of the holes. Here is some of the concerns going into the off season and what they did to fix them.
Linebacker – After losing Lewis, Ellerbe, Kruger they needed to find players to fit their aggressive style of play. Drafting Arthur Brown (Kansas State 2nd round) and signing Daryl Smith (Jacksonville) will fill in inside, while the surprise signing of former Denver Bronco Elvis Dumervil and drafting of John Simon (Ohio State – 4th round) will help man the outside. For a unit that was depleted, the ravens did an outstanding job rebuilding it
Safety – Another position who lost their soul in Ed Reed, the Ravens did another fine job filling the void with Matt Elam (Florida – 1st Round) and ex Oakland Raider Michael Huff. Reed anchored the secondary whether lining people up or picking off passes, Elam and Huff have huge shoes to fill, but the ravens are fortunate enough to have two solid candidates.
Left Tackle – They were all ready to move on from Bryant McKennie, but when they looked around, they did not find anyone anywhere near his ability, so they resigned him and selected Ricky Wagner (Wisconsin – 5th Round) and Ryan Jensen (Colorado State – 6th round) to add depth. They still need to find that go to new LT, but for now, they have McKinnie.
The Ravens are coming off a Super Bowl victory, but will need to find a way to bring all of these new players in and build some chemistry if they want to compete against conference favorites Denver, New England. Coach Harbough will need all of the OTA and camps to work on this.
Joe Flacco had better get busy handing out the name tags as it is June and camp start in just over a month.