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  1. #1
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    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"




  2. #2

    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Our defense is already better and faster than 2012...and via this Draft, it's certainly going to get even faster and probably even better.
    Back to the AFCCG we go. So get ready!

    Team MVP to-date: Rick Wagner and C.J. Mosley (tie)

    Having fun talking football on Twitter @BigPlayReceiver




  3. #3
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    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Good post Ex. What we didn't know at the start of FA and we are starting to find out, is that Ozzie's plan was always to upgrade an underachieving 2012 defense. He started with the front 7, Doom and Canty will be HUGE additions, and shored up safety with a dependable vet and former top 10 pick. I read a former Ravens scout saying they really liked Huff coming out of the draft and saw him as somebody who would do well covering TE's. All theses guys came in at a bargain, Doom even took less than what Denver was offering. So as usual, we are going into the draft with limited holes to fill (LT, MLB, WR), giving Oz more freedom to go after guys he really likes, no matter what position they play. With 12 picks and a pretty solid roster, I think this might be a bold year for Oz in the draft. I think we will see a lot of maneuvering, maybe up in the first, or maybe back into the second and end up walking away with 4-5 2nd/3rd rounders.




  4. #4

    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Bodies are there.....leadership is another story.
    Ray/Ed were the leaders out there, and Pollard was a highly emotional player.....
    Way Down South in New Orleans




  5. #5
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    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Quote Originally Posted by NOLARavenFAN View Post
    Bodies are there.....leadership is another story.
    Ray/Ed were the leaders out there, and Pollard was a highly emotional player.....
    Doom was a team captain in Denver. He brings leadership. Canty is a vet with 2 rings. And of course you got Suggs/Ngata. I could see Webb taking on a leadership role in the secondary as well.




  6. #6
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    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Dumervil, Canty, Huff, and Spears are not unknown, so do not fear... Bc




  7. #7
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    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Quote Originally Posted by NOLARavenFAN View Post
    Bodies are there.....leadership is another story.
    Ray/Ed were the leaders out there, and Pollard was a highly emotional player.....
    I agree but I will say that I believe Oz will find the talent...I don't think that is the issue.
    I think the thing that is glaring to me, is the missing intangibles which the Raven team has also been known for.

    Ray and Ed were very special players, no doubt, but they had more than that to go along with the physical talent and leadership qualities.
    They led by example, they showed players how to prepare, day in and day out, for the offseason, for the next coming season, how to take care of their bodies during training camp and the rigors of a pro season and maybe most of all, film study and game preparation for each opponent. Ray always spoke of having each other's back.

    The experience of being able to line up and figure out what the play is before the snap...should not be underestimated when you look at the Ravens' defenses over more than a decade with Ray at the head.
    Diagnosing and faking coverages and faking movement (Ray and Ed) and then getting your teammates in sync with you can be the difference between stopping a drive at the most crucial of times or giving up that score.

    When I look at the Niners defense, those guys are a physically impressive group, but I think they lack those intangibles. They make outstanding individual effort plays and they do dominate alot of the time.
    Right this moment, the Ravens are lacking the intangibles on the defensive side.
    IF Oz goes out and finds the best ILBs and safties in the draft, it is highly probable that the Ravens will still lack those intangibles.
    Maybe that is the real fear of the unknown.




  8. #8

    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Other than nostalgia, in losing guys like Boldin and Pollard, I never doubted for a second that Ozzie didn't have a plan in place to make the team a contender in 2013. It would not surprise me in the least if this the 2013 team winds up being one of the best Raven teams fielded to date.




  9. #9

    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Please, Kruger left for the Browns, we are doomed. Logic be damned.




  10. #10

    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Huff was a former 1st round pick. He has that kind of ability and he had to be frustrated playing for a lousy team. Going to the Ravens has to have him excited to play for a team that will put him in a position to be successful. I don't judge him for his play at cornerback, he's a FS. Reed in his prime was the best ball hawk ever, but he's a shell of that now and I believe Huff will prove to be an upgrade over a 35 year old Reed.

    Spears is another former 1st round pick. While he may never make the pro bowl, he's a solid veteran to have in the rotation of linemen that includes Canty, another solid veteran. By keeping Ngata fresher and healthier next year by playing less snaps, our defensive line play should be much better this year.

    I liked Krueger's play last year, but given a choice between him and Dumervil is really a no brainer. Dumervil is obviously the better player so we've upgrade there also. Suggs will be healthier and with his play improved we could have the nastiest pass rush we've ever seen.

    Ray was the greatest Raven ever but you can will an aging body so much. While he may have been able to play another year, like Reed, he is a shell of the great player he once was. Losing Ellerbe was not expected, but I was never sold on him because of his durability. He's never played a complete season and I have serious doubts he can consistently stay on the field. For comparison, Huff has missed 4 games in 7 seasons.

    The biggest question marks I see now are ML and LT. Those will be addressed before the season starts. This board was going nuts a few weeks ago with inconsolable ledge jumpers predicting the team will fall apart. While there are a few things to be concerned about still, take a step back and look at the big picture. It's not hard to think the team has improved. Questions about Ozzie's competence as a GM are ridiculous, he's at the top of the food chain. Despite what any of us fans feel, Ozzie is in charge and I for one wouldn't want it any other way.




  11. #11
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    Re: Fear of the Unknown.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfish View Post
    Huff was a former 1st round pick. He has that kind of ability and he had to be frustrated playing for a lousy team. Going to the Ravens has to have him excited to play for a team that will put him in a position to be successful. I don't judge him for his play at cornerback, he's a FS. Reed in his prime was the best ball hawk ever, but he's a shell of that now and I believe Huff will prove to be an upgrade over a 35 year old Reed.

    Spears is another former 1st round pick. While he may never make the pro bowl, he's a solid veteran to have in the rotation of linemen that includes Canty, another solid veteran. By keeping Ngata fresher and healthier next year by playing less snaps, our defensive line play should be much better this year.

    I liked Krueger's play last year, but given a choice between him and Dumervil is really a no brainer. Dumervil is obviously the better player so we've upgrade there also. Suggs will be healthier and with his play improved we could have the nastiest pass rush we've ever seen.

    Ray was the greatest Raven ever but you can will an aging body so much. While he may have been able to play another year, like Reed, he is a shell of the great player he once was. Losing Ellerbe was not expected, but I was never sold on him because of his durability. He's never played a complete season and I have serious doubts he can consistently stay on the field. For comparison, Huff has missed 4 games in 7 seasons.

    The biggest question marks I see now are ML and LT. Those will be addressed before the season starts. This board was going nuts a few weeks ago with inconsolable ledge jumpers predicting the team will fall apart. While there are a few things to be concerned about still, take a step back and look at the big picture. It's not hard to think the team has improved. Questions about Ozzie's competence as a GM are ridiculous, he's at the top of the food chain. Despite what any of us fans feel, Ozzie is in charge and I for one wouldn't want it any other way.
    fish, I agree , and I have confidence that ILB/MLB will be taken care of sufficiently. The only problem I can foresee is an adequate LT. McKinnie is a "?", Oher is unsatisfactory there, KO will likely stay @ LG, and we draft too low to pick a highly rated LT. Thank goodness it's Ozzie's problem and not mine... Bc




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