Despite the retirement of the face of the franchise, and not re-signing perhaps the best safety in NFL history, there were still high hopes going into 2013.
But if last season proved anything, it was that a Super Bowl victory can certainly set unrealistic expectations for a completely different team heading into the following year.
Fast forward to the sound of the bell on Tuesday at 4PM, signaling the official start of free agency. The Ravens entered the new league year with more question marks than in years past.
However in the last few days a lot of questions have been answered.
Inside linebacker should be set. With Daryl Smith back in the fold and high expectations for Arthur Brown, the Ravens should feel secure enough at that position. Josh Bynes provides depth.
Eugene Monroe was perhaps the biggest signing of the offseason so far. He provides the most stability the Ravens have had at left tackle since Jonathan Ogden and bringing him back was absolutely essential.
Jacoby Jones isn’t a number two receiver, but he is a game changer. He’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He has single-handedly won several games for the Ravens over the last two seasons. While some may scoff at this, there’s a good chance the Ravens don’t win a Super Bowl without him.
He should have been the MVP of that game, not Flacco.
Steve Smith isn’t what he was five years ago, but signing him is huge for the Ravens. He’s a five time Pro Bowler, and if you don’t think he’ll play with a chip on your shoulder you’re wrong. Carolina might be a great place to play, but it ain’t Baltimore.
Smith seems like a guy who will embrace the passion Ravens fans bring. Financially it makes sense, schematically it makes sense.
There’s a reason the Ravens wasted no time pursuing him.
So with all this said, where do the Ravens stand? Are they finished?
Free safety and the line still seem like two glaring needs.
Michael Oher is a Titan, and while a lot of fans aren’t sad to see him go, he leaves a big void to fill. Despite his affection for false starts, he never missed a game in his five year career. That’s quite a feat for such a physical position.
The Ravens need to add some depth on the O-line. Chances are Kelechi Osemele is moved to right tackle. Upgrading the interior of the offensive line is considered a priority. But it has yet to be addressed.
Free safety is another need. While there were a lot of options on the market at the start of free agency, they were quickly scooped up. This may be a need best addressed in the draft, as several mocks have the Ravens taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He’s a better option than anyone at this point and would be a great first round pick.
Ozzie has done a great job, and the Ravens seemed poised to bounce back and compete for the AFC North in 2014. However, they still have some holes to fill.
With some cap space and the draft they seem to be in good shape.
Missing the playoffs for the first time in six years doesn’t sit well in Baltimore.
Don’t expect it to happen again in 2014.