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Ravens miss the boat this offseason

Sadly I can’t give Ozzie Newsome anything better than a D+ this offseason.

It kills me to think that it’s possible for a guy who such a great track record could miss the boat this bad but I also don’t see how the Ravens are going to be a better team next season.

By the end of the year it was apparent that the Ravens were further away from being a Super Bowl contender than people thought. There were questions with the offensive line, questions in the secondary, questions with the pass rush, and questions with big-play ability in the receiving corp.

There were just far too many questions for the team to win and it resulted in the team being bumped from the second round of the playoffs for a third-straight year.

Ozzie did do a very good job in the draft. He looked past the mistakes a young kid made and picked one of the best defensive backs in the first round to help bolster the secondary. Then, he picked a guy with all the tools to be one of the leagues best receivers in the second round before adding a bull of an offensive lineman, another solid wide receiver, and a player with the potential to be a very special quarterback in this league late in the draft.

After the draft it was a dead period because of the lockout, which really made for an unprecedented free agency period. But what that did was it gave him and his associates plenty of time to plan out what they needed to finally get the Ravens their first Super Bowl in 10 seasons. Everybody said that the best front offices would be the most successful this offseason but Ozzie missed the boat.

With a horrible cap situation (which Ozzie put the Ravens into) the team was forced to part ways with four veterans in the passing game (Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Donte Stallworth), diminish the depth in the backfield (Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain), and have two of the better players in the secondary go (Dawan Landry and Josh Wilson).

I’m all for change but the Ravens went into a youth movement since rookies and second-year players will have to be the once to step up into those roles and a youth movement was not what a team two games away from playing in the Super Bowl needed. Instead, the team needed help at the positions they struggled in least season and unfortunately none of those positions have been addressed.

Having confidence in young players is all fine and dandy but needing them to have instant success is a death sentence.

The offensive line was not addressed at all. Sure, they kept Marshal Yanda but they didn’t bring in a player to improve it other than a third-round draft pick and actually, with Matt Birk being hurt and Casey Rabach failing his physical, the center position is in horrible shape.

James Hardy better miraculously find a way to fix his inconsistent hands that have caused him to be cut after two seasons by the Bills despite being a second round draft pick because the Ravens are really going to have to rely on him this season.

The receiving corp. is going to need two rookies, a second-year player, and a third-year player with 10 career catches (10 more than anybody else in the group other than Anquan Boldin) to improve an already shaky receiving corp. By missing out on Malcom Floyd (which was a result of Ozzie being unable to clear enough cap space) and Derrick Mason the Ravens’ best option may be to go after Jerricho Cotchery to provide a veteran influence, but he’s little more than an average receiver, not a guy that can take the passing game to a new level.

The secondary is going to be better but is still going to have to rely on a rookie and a player coming off an ACL tear more than they should have too.

And the pass rush is going to rely on a player coming off a very horrible injury that threatened his career last year for improvement.

It’s very possible that all of these areas are improved, but again, it’s not a solid plan to go into a year needing so many unproven players to make immediate impacts. Bringing in veterans would have been a much wiser move. Instead of handing Jah Reid the starting right tackle position, force him to battle with a proven veteran and if he win he wins, no big deal, but his competition is Oniel Cousins and Ramon Harewood.

Getting Vonta Leach is really going to help the running game improve its 3.8 yards per carry average last season, but paying him so much money where it nearly killed the possibility of getting more free agents isn’t a way to improve, especially when one of the Ravens problems the past three seasons has been their willingness to run the clock down rather than putting their opponents out of reach. Getting Leach is just going to make it an easier decision to opt to run out the clock considering passing the ball means utilizing a bunch of unknowns.

The most baffling thing this offseason may be that Haloti Ngata still hasn’t been inked to a long-tern deal, which would have opened up enough cap space to allow the Ravens to make a splash before it was slim pickings. I realize it takes two sides to make a deal but you would have figures that Ozzie would have been discussing the type of contract Ngata wanted with his agent before the lockout started and one it was lifted then he could have gotten the deal done in no time.

Unlike previous seasons it is no longer safe to just say that the Ravens will be in the playoffs, considering they were a wild card last season and the San Diego Chargers and Houston Texans both look significantly better going into this season. Luckily a schedule featuring the miserable NFC West and four divisional games against the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals has given them a very favorable slate of games.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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