Much has been made of the so-called demise of number 52 over the last couple of seasons, in which even some Ravens fans have questioned how long he should be on the field and whether he should still be playing. It is well documented that Ray Lewis has a leader’s mentality and he is the undisputed face of the Ravens. Ray Lewis is an icon. And if some Ravens fans can’t respect him still being on the field, then who can they respect?
It is very important that the Baltimore Ravens handle Ray’s situation with care, just as they are right now. From the day Ray was injured in Week 6, to his placement on the IR “designated to return” list, to his current situation as he gears up for a return December 16 against the Denver Broncos, the organization has handled Lewis’ predicament with the care and respect the future Hall of Famer has earned.
Some fans and pundits have argued that the play of the Ravens defense has improved greatly since Ray was injured, and therefore he should not be inserted into the starting lineup immediately upon returning to the field.
Let’s look at the numbers.
According to the team’s official site, the Ravens are 5-1 with Lewis allowing 19.1 points and 396.6 yards per game. Without Lewis, the Ravens are 4-1 allowing 20.2 points and 344.6 yards per game.
However, it’s not quite as simple as “with Ray,” and “without Ray.” All pro Linebacker Terrell Suggs entered the starting lineup just as Ray went out and that has a lot to do with these numbers. That said, one could come to the conclusion that the Ravens will need all of their star power to reach their full potential in the postseason. The best has yet to come for this defense. Ray still matters on the field – just ask any opposing ballcarrier who sees #52 coming at them in the hole.
Ray Lewis may not be needed during the regular season for the full 16-game schedule, but when the postseason comes around, his experience and leadership will be invaluable.