The Baltimore Ravens had a great regular season: Beat Pittsburgh twice and a got a 1st round bye. Joe Flacco proved a ton of haters wrong getting his team within a Lee Evans drop of a Super Bowl appearance. The arrow is still pointing up for the Ravens who always re-tool exceptionally with the draft and year after year.
Going into the 2011 season, some people were questioning whether or not Joe Flacco is the real deal. After another good year, it seems like a lot of the people are silenced. With Anquan Boldin appearing to be on the decline, it is a very nice that Torrey Smith had himself a strong rookie year (Ozzie you crafty &$#%#&@!). Pitta and Dickson both pumped out good years at TEs combining for almost 1000 yards and 8 TDs. The Ravens don’t exactly have a ton of talent in the receiving category at WR/TE, but they make up for it by having one of the best RBs in the game: Ray Rice. Rice finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing with 1364 yards and with 12 rushing TDs. Rice is also one of the best receiving options that Joe Cool has to throw to which allows the team to run Torrey Smith long. Rice should get a much better chance to get spelled some with the addition of 3rd round pick Bernard Pierce, a much better runner now than Ricky Williams. The offensive line may have some questions now that Ben Grubbs is gone. They still have Oher and Yanda for the youth part of the line. Matt Birk and Bobbie Williams add a little veteran moxie. Jah Reid may not be ready to contribute right now but 2nd round pick Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski were added to the line. Osemele, if motivated and in shape, can be a helluva mauler for the Ravens OL. When you think Baltimore Ravens, you think defense, but the offense is no slouch. Now that the Ravens are becoming more balanced, they are much more formidable team than they were just a short while ago.
Some teams wish they had a defense like the Ravens for a handful of years, but Baltimore’s defense has been very good for the better part of a decade. Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed lead one of the most smashmouth defenses the NFL has. The defense was 3rd in points, 3rd in passing, 2nd in total yards, 6th in rushing, 3rd in sacks. Basically every stat but INTs is in the upper echelon of the entire league. One major concern about the Ravens defense now is whether or not Suggs will be able to play and more importantly, be effective, this year for a defense that needs his production. Baltimore drafted a rather polarized prospect in Courtney Upshaw. Some people don’t think he has a position, but Upshaw always has a nose for the ball and was around most big plays in the trenches in Alabama. With Suggs out for now there really isn’t much reason for Courtney to be the favorite to start the season. Haloti Ngata is still a force to be reckon with but he will get even more attention than the mammoth man will get now that Suggs is out. Kruger and McPhee added some good pressure as well. Terrence Cody is another mountain of a man to a DL that doesn’t lack size. Cody started all 16 games last year answering some questions about whether or not he could handle it at his weight. Now it’s all about whether he can tap into the potential that made him so intriguing. Former 2nd round pick Sergio Kindle is also an intriguing guy. Kindle did not record a single stat last year after fracturing his skull and his career appeared to be in jeopardy, but there still is a chance he can play and be successful. Kindle is one of those guys you root for after his misfortunes the past season. Ray Lewis, even at 17 seasons is still an incredible leader and a great player. Lewis and Reed have fought off a lot of the youth movement that came in to the defense and appeared to have stepped up their play in fact. Finally, the Ravens have themselves a pair of good young corners in Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. With the added youth next to the big 4, this defense has retooled itself and is in prime shape to be a Top-3 defense once again if Suggs is fine.
1. How will the defense play if Suggs misses significant time?
2. Does the offense have much more room to grow outside of Flacco?
3. Will the Ravens finally break through and get themselves to the Super Bowl?
“I would like to play my whole career here. That’s a given,” Gibson told HOOPSWORLD at the start of training camp. “This is a great city, great organization, great people, and it would be a dream come true (to stay).”lkjhlh
But by using the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft on Bradley Beal, a shooting guard with a 39-inch vertical and a ¾-court sprint time of just 3.28 seconds, Washington may have given itself the fastest backcourt in the NBA.