Last week I wrote this: http://mymindonsports.com/2015/10/is-it-time-to-hit-the-restart-button-in-baltimore/
The gist of the article was basically asking if there was any reason to believe that the Ravens could salvage the season, which I now fully believe that they cannot. After an awful loss to the 49ers, in which they allowed the much maligned Colin Kaepernick to throw for well over 300 yards, Baltimore needs to take a long look in the mirror. Sitting at 1-5, their upcoming opponents include: at Arizona, home vs San Diego, and home vs Jacksonville. Optimistically, you’re looking at a 2-7 Baltimore team after that stretch.
Last night I was talking with a friend and he mentioned that teams aren’t always as bad as their record indicates, as Baltimore has lost their five games by a combined 22 points. While I agree, with a team this old, you have to ask if they’ll be good enough to win in the next few years without major change and sadly, I had to accept the fact that Baltimore is in trouble. Here’s a position by position evaluation of the Ravens’ roster.
Quarterback: One of the few positions where the Ravens are set at. Joe Flacco will never be a Top 3 or even Top 5 Quarterback in the NFL, but he’s certainly proved to be capable to be as good as the Ravens need him to be. The biggest issue is helping him with offensive weapons. Matt Schaub is currently the backup, although I’d like to see a more mobile option as a backup.
Runningback: Justin Forsett was a nice story last year, and I don’t think he’s incapable, however the Ravens need a better tailback to compliment Flacco. Spending a high draft pick on the position shouldn’t be out of the question, as Buck Allen likely isn’t the answer as a feature back in the future. At Fullback, Kyle Juszczyk is as good as they come in the NFL.
Wide Receiver: Steve Smith has been all you could ask of a 36 year old pass catcher. If he retires after the season, the Ravens are in real trouble here. They addressed the position in the 1st round a year ago, but unfortunately Breshad Perriman has yet to play a down as chronic knee injuries have hampered his progress. Marlon Brown is a big receiver, but offers little threat to the defense. Kamar Aiken has done well for himself, but should be a tertiary option. Michael Campanaro has been servicable, but a 7th round pick isn’t usually a depended on commodity. The Ravens need a major playmaker here.
Tight End: The Ravens are very young presently at Tight End, though not lacking talent. With Dennis Pitta still on the shelf with his hip malady, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, both drafted last Spring, have potential. Crockett Gilmore has also done admirably as the team’s leading Tight End. They’re fine here.
Offensive Line: Surprisingly inept in the run game this season, Baltimore actually has a decent OL. Eugene Monroe, while talented, is oft hurt, and should be looked at to be replaced in the semi-near future. Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda and Rick Wagner are all very solid, especially Yanda, considered to be an All-Pro at Guard. The Ravens don’t have bad depth here either.
Defensive Line: The Ravens are stacked here. Brandon Williams is as good of a Nose Tackle as there is in football right now. Timmy Jernigan is also full of potential. Chris Canty has toyed with retirement before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he departs following the season. Lawrence Guy has played well in Canty’s injury absence this season, and Carl Davis has flashed as a rookie.
Linebackers: C.J. Mosely has had a pretty disappointing season thus far, especially after a Pro Bowl visit a year ago. Daryl Smith is solid, but the Jaguars cut him 3 years ago because they thought he was getting up in years. Arthur Brown has been a mostly failed experiment at ILB, and Albert McClellan is a depth/ST guy. The Ravens could use another piece inside.
Pass Rushers: Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are a hell of a tandem when healthy, however Suggs is out for the year, and 33 at that. Dumervil is also over 30, and isn’t close to putting up the same numbers he did a year ago. Courtney Upshaw is better suited inside, and may not be retained when his contract is up. Za’Darius Smith has been a nice surprise this season, as the 4th round pick has applied pressure when he’s played. Youth is needed here.
Cornerbacks: Jimmy Smith has been getting along on the “Top 10 talent” label for a few years now, and has flashed, but is still not quite where you’d like to see him in Year 4. Lardarius Webb is still solid, but is probably better suited inside. After these two, it’s a lot of names, due to injury yet again. Kyle Arrington hasn’t produced as the Ravens hoped, Shareece Wright was just cut by the 49ers, then burned Sunday by the 49ers. Tray Walker is a rookie, but is still a year or two away from being an NFL player. Asa Jackson is also very meh. Will Davis was traded for, and played well, until he tore his ACL two weeks ago. Julian Wilson is currently on IR, but was showing promise in camp before getting hurt. He’s a big kid who could stick next year. A 1st round pick should probably be spent here considering the talent at the position in this year’s draft class.
Safeties: Will Hill has been good, but the rest of the position could use some work. Kendrick Lewis has been average at best, Matt Elam was in the middle of a breakthrough offseason before he suffered a season ending injury. There is a serious lack of Safety talent in the NFL, and Baltimore was spoiled with Ed Reed for all of those years. The Ravens need more help in the secondary for sure.
Specialists: Justin Tucker and Sam Koch are about as good as it gets in the NFL, these are two huge weapons that the Ravens need to, and should hold on to at almost all costs.
Feature Runningback: I mentioned in the article last week that Derrick Henry would be an excellent fit for the Ravens. The 6’3″ 242 pound behemoth ran for 160 plus yards last week in the first quarter vs then #9 Texas A&M. Also, a guy like Utah’s Devontae Booker could be in play in the third round or so. The Ravens should spend an early pick on a runner.
Playmakers on the Outside: The Ravens were recently described by an NFL executive as: “Easily the slowest offense in the NFL.” This position needs another high draft pick invested. First rounders could be Corey Coleman or LaQuon Treadwell. Both would be huge additions to this Ravens offense.
Pass Rushers: The Ravens defense has fallen from what once was a feared and stingy defense. This starts up front. The Ravens have a few nice pieces on the Defensive Line already, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they coveted someone like Ohio State’s Joey Bosa. Bosa would make a strength stronger, much like the Jets selecting Leonard Williams last year. They could also look for some depth later in the draft, like Wisconsin’s Joe Schobert, or Noah Spence, a former Ohio State player, from Eastern Kentucky.
Cornerbacks: The Ravens simply aren’t putting out the same caliber of talent as other teams are at cornerback. Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are above average, Kyle Arrington is average. Other than that, there isn’t a lot of promise on the roster, an upgrade is needed. Jalen Ramsey from Florida State or Vernon Hargreaves III from Florida are both potentially elite cornerbacks or in Ramsey’s case, an elite safety as well.
Ultimately the Ravens are in a somewhat similar situation to the one the Steelers were in a few years ago, they were good for so long, that eventually age and the attrition of Free Agency have finally passed the Ravens by, and has resulted in their 1-5 start. These problems need to be remedied. Refer to last week’s article for for a Mock Draft that would benefit the Ravens’ future.