In the Dark Knight, there is an unforgettable scene in which the Joker explains his view of anarchy to Harvey Dent. He explains that when people expect something to take place – no matter how heinous in nature – order is still maintained among the masses.
But when events take place on the fly, chaos ensues.
Right now, it seems to some Ravens observers that chaos is in full effect in Baltimore as it was in Gotham City. It’s as if the general manager Ozzie Newsome has lost his mind.
Well, if you know how Newsome runs his team by now, you’ll know that he is in complete control. The moves that the Ravens have made are all part of a master plan. Is it to trim money? Is it to get younger? Is it to usher in a new group of Ravens that can help the franchise sustain its success over the long-term as opposed to a shorter timeframe?
Maybe the answer is “all of the above.” Or maybe we won’t ever know. The latter rationale is probably a better bet given how closely the Ravens keep their information to the vest.
Going forward, one thing is clear. Many of the positions that are bare on the current roster can be filled adequately through free agency and the draft. Moreover, the Ravens already have some pieces in place on their existing roster to cushion the blows. It won’t be the same level of the players that were here before—some being legends of the game. But the new group will be faster, younger and bring a new attitude to the team.
Let’s examine the primary positions that will need attention:
Safety — Pollard is already out. Reed is soon to follow. What’s left? There are a few intriguing options already on the team in Omar Brown, Christian Thompson and James Ihedigbo. One of these guys will get a legitimate shot to start next season. Thompson was ballyhooed as having tremendous physical skills so he’ll be an interesting guy to watch. This is also one of the better safety classes to come out in a while. They offer range, speed and athleticism. I expect the Ravens to invest one of their top 64 picks on one of these players.
Inside Linebacker—The Ravens need two guys here as well. I expect one of the starters to come from free agency. There is a decent group of veterans available between Karlos Dansby, D.J. Williams and even Rey Maualuga. Before you jump down my throat about mentioning Maualuga, think about the fact that his awful season came as the MIKE in a 4/3 scheme. Give him some protection and less ground to cover and he could be a better fit as a downhill rusher/crash player. In the draft, two of the more interesting linebackers are Kevin Minter and Alec Ogletree. Ogletree can run; Minter can hit. And I fully expect Josh Bynes to be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job as well.
Left Tackle—This may very well be the trickiest spot for the Ravens to fill between the draft and free agency. There are still some quality free agents available, including their own, Bryant McKinnie. Big Mac isn’t getting much action on the open market and is likely to be available during the second and third wave of market activity. The draft seems to be top-heavy in the first round with the type of tackles that can start from day one. None of the top guys will be available early enough for the Ravens to make a play. Any move aside from Michael Oher stepping back into the blind side would be ideal.
Wide Receiver—Replacing Boldin might be a matter of design as opposed to personnel. The Ravens still have some other weapons left in the arsenal. Mixing and matching tight end Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones in Boldin’s former role should be a big part of the plan. In fact, if Pitta isn’t featured more as the main slot receiver, I would be shocked. Boldin and Pitta were cutting into each other’s routes last season so it seems like a natural transition. Tandon Doss is still an intriguing player who could also be an inside, possession presence. Keep in mind, Doss was brought in for his reliable hands and his ability to catch the ball in the traffic. He needs to actually show it on the field.
Again, it will be interesting to see what Newsome and the rest of the Baltimore front office cooks up for the rest of the offseason. But you should sleep easier at night knowing that he has a plan in place and the team has been down this road before.
And if that doesn’t help, start watching highlights of the magical 2012 Super Bowl run that took place all of one month ago.