Fear of the Unknown.
I think that while much of the panic over the start to Baltimore's off-season was led by the spectating portion of fans who were never as familiar with the nuances of football as they claimed, I sensed a fear of the unknown, even from the board here.
Defensively, we were used to seeing the same faces. Ray Lewis was a cornerstone player and the ILBs that played beside him were pumped in and out (Hartwell, Scott, McClain, Ellerbe). Ed Reed was a cornerstone player and the Ss that played beside him were pumped in and out (Demps, Landry, Pollard). When those cornerstones were in place, we were always able to say that THEY made the other players better, so it didn't matter who was placed beside them. We rarely worried.
Haloti Ngata was a cornerstone piece at NT. From Kelly Gregg (Who was here before Ngata), to Justin Bannan and to Terrance Cody, the players around Ngata were pumped in and out. Then, the team decided to experiment with moving Ngata around more, particularly to NG. Suddenly, the defensive line became disconcerting.
Terrell Suggs was a cornerstone piece at OLB. After starting out opposite Peter Boulware, Suggs became the top pass rusher. He played opposite Adalius Thomas, Jarret Johnson, and has since played opposite Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger. However, he is now at an age and physical status, following multiple injuries, where we just don't know what type of performance he will put on, from here on out.
When we become nervous over losing multiple starters from the worst Ravens defense since Vinny Testaverde was the QB of the team, it is clear that the time to move on and reload is now. That is the approach the Ravens have taken. They will likely look for someone to develop behind Haloti Ngata, while moving him back to NT until they sort out depth at that position. It could be a draft pick. It could be the improvement of Terrance Cody. It could be a surprisingly long tenure by Haloti Ngata himself. However, he will play at the core of the defense until the pieces around him are fully figured out.
Elvis Dumervil not only provides Suggs with his best pass rushing partner since Peter Boulware (Who also wore #58), but he also provides a bit of insurance in the case that Suggs does not return to form. If Suggs does return to form, he will likely remain with the team. However, in the case that he does not, you will have your new tandem in place with Courtney Upshaw and Elvis Dumervil, before any draft picks are considered.
The new found strength on the defensive line and rushing the passer, makes it easier to keep an ILB clean and his assignments simple, while you develop him.
The truth is that it will not be difficult for this defense to improve on what we saw from the 2012 Ravens defense and the added pieces, along with the departed, give way for that possibility.
On offense, the truth is that we were so glad to see multiple bright spots from our offense, that anything that looked good needed to be kept. That we couldn't live without each and every one of those pieces.
The reality is that the Ravens have the most important pieces in place now. They have their QB in place and they have an OC that meshes well with that QB. Joe Flacco has the ability to make WRs look better than they are. We now have a QB with that type of skill.
As much as we were used to seeing the same cornerstone pieces on defense, we were hardly ever used to seeing any on offense. Now, they are in place. Torrey Smith is the WR that the passing offense works through, because he gets the double team. He is the one that will make you pay the most if you don't double cover him. It is his presence that allows the other WRs to see single coverage and, under those circumstances, they become the guys who can be pumped in an out around Torrey.
For a group that heralds Ozzie Newsome's drafting ability, we really seem hesitant to allow the skill of those picks to manifest itself on the field. I think we need to let Ozzie do his job in bringing the right guys in and I think we need to let the coaching staff do its job in developing their skills. Cam Cameron's gone. Repeat after me: Cam...Cameron...is ......gone.
"When questioned, the Elders explained that they were in search of magical powers. However, they're actually searching for the whereabouts of a certain ring. This ring is a legendary treasure that long ago was known to exist"