FOOTBALLSTORIES BALTIMORE – NO NEED FOR RAVENS FANS TO PANIC
No Panic Needed In Baltimore
Since the turn of the new millenium, Baltimore has always been one of the most stable pillars when it comes to consistency on the field and in the front office in all of sports.
Whether it was Hall of Famers like Ray Lewis riding off into the sunset or Ed Reed switching teams “Purple Pain” still found its way. The team’s record and lack of scoring from the starting unit this preseasons has drawn much ire from the Ravens Nation.
In the competitive AFC North a hot start out the gates is imperative to claim the title in the NFL’s toughest division.
Over the last few seasons, the personnel on the team has seemed to be a revolving door of new faces at key positions. Ray Rice was jettisoned amid the horrific domestic violence incident which opened the door for NFL journeyman Justin Forsett to step through almost as in the same fashion he runs between the tackles.
The Ravens handed him an opportunity, he handed back the 6th best rushing performance in team history garnering his first Pro Bowl.
Contract disputes with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith had them fleeing the nest to San Francisco, leaving a vacancy filled by the likes of Steve Smith and newly acquired speedster Breshad Perriman. As referenced by long time Steeler Ike Taylor, “little mighty mouse” still has the chops to be the No.1 guy and will one day be in Canton. That type of turnover can make some fans very apprehensive about the continuity of the team which ultimately effects success in win-now business.
Even with the Ravens changing players like a chameleon changes colors the team still manages to be a frequent tenant in January based on a myriad of constants.
First, it starts from the top with General Manager Ozzie Newsome. Owner Steve Bisciotti has shown great faith in Ozzie to step back and give him the room to work his magic as he’s done so eloquently since 2002. He’s made shrewd and savvy moves involving draft picks like Joe Flacco in 2008 to free agent signings like Elvis Dumervil after the contract restructure fiasco that landed him in the Ravens lap.
After becoming the first African-American to hold that front office position in league history, Newsome has seemingly always managed to produce a good on-field product evidenced by the Ravens only missing the playoffs once since 2007. The former first round pick for the Cleveland Browns in 1978 is a lock to be the first individual to don a gold jacket both as a player and an executive.
Secondly, the younger Harbaugh, John has made quite the name for himself after spending a decade as an assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles. John’s fun-loving, calm demeanor has always been a breath of fresh air and bred a sigh of relief within the organization since his era began in 2008.
While a lot of teams start off red-hot and falter down the stretch the Ravens do the opposite rising to the occasion when playoff berths are at stake in November and December. Or as most players like to call, when the “real football” is played.
Defense will always be the calling card for Ravens as “Death on Wings” is the mainstay within the confines of M&T Bank Stadium. Even dating back when they were crowned as the first team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the turn of the century it’s always been their identity and will be for the distant future.
The defense has always embodied two characteristics: pressure combined with exotic coverages. Even when familiar faces disappeared the philosophy didn’t, epitomizing the old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.
In the first title run guys like Tony Siragusa helped plug the line of scrimmage better than a vintage
bathtub drain. After he hung up the cleats the mammoth Haloti Ngata assumed the same role allowing the “face of the franchise” Ray Lewis to continue to scrape from sideline to sideline wreaking havoc on offenses for 17 years which will undoubtedbly land him in the Hall of Fame.
As invaluable Mr. 52 was to the only team he ever knew there’s now a new kid on the block in C.J. Mosely, who already earned his first Pro Bowl nod in his rookie season.
Pair him with the ageless Darryl Smith and you start to see remnants of the Lewis-Boulware tandem that put the Baltimore back on the NFL map in the early 2000’s. And you can’t forget Terrell Suggs aka Ball So Hard University.
The man still plays at an elite level providing pressure but now has an added benefit from fellow pass rusher Elvis Dumervil forming one of the league’s best duo.
Dumervil tied his career high in 2014 with 17 sacks. When Armageddon going in the trenches it makes for
guys like Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb (mirror images of Chris McCalister and Duane Starks) to sit back and make plays on the ball confusing top notch QB’s like Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
If you’re worried about the Ravens this season don’t be. As long as you got Ozzie steering the ship, Harbaugh riding shotgun and a defense that still rises around Thanksgiving another Super Bowl run is always a possibility. After all a Raven in the hand is better than 2 regular birds in a bush.
Stanford Routt – former 2nd Rd pick Oakland Raiders…4.27 40 yd dash-fastest for DB in combine history…8 yr veteran..258 tackles, 12 career INT’s (1 returned for TD), 55 PBU’s, 2 sacks, 2 FF…started games ever year in the NFL…member of several top pass defenses in OAK…2 INTs while also playing for Chiefs and member of 2012 AFC South Champion Houston Texans