EMBRACE THE GRIND: The Ravens Prepare to Defend Their Title

Embrace the grind

Winning a championship in any sport on any level isn’t easy. It’s the byproduct of hard work, preparation, determination, perseverance and talent.

And in the NFL it’s also about being at the right place at the right time.

In 2012 it could be argued that the Baltimore Ravens weren’t the league’s most talented team. Many have said that the 2011 squad was better than the most recent Super Bowl Champions.

But last year’s team, like many champions before them, caught fire at just the right time and rode the wave all the way to the title.

The celebrations have come and gone and now with training camp just days away it’s time to defend that title. And this time they’ll do it with many new faces.

The Ravens front office decided not to rest on the laurels of champions. Instead they dismantled a Super Bowl winning defense hell bent on fielding a younger and faster team in 2013.

It was a bold move and they wasted little time executing their plan. Fans didn’t even have time to bask in the glow of glory before Ozzie Newsome & Co. began to cut the flesh of a roster of champions with surgical precision.

Perhaps they were alarmed by how slow the defense had become.

Perhaps they wanted to get back to being a dominant defense.

Perhaps the number of complacent champions before them who failed to defend their titles alarmed them.

Maybe it was all of the above.

Not since the 2004 New England Patriots who followed up their title in the 2005 season with a 10-6 record, advancing through the Wild Card Game and falling to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round, has a Super Bowl Champion won a playoff game the following season.

Three times, the defending champ never even made it to the playoffs (Pittsburgh 2006, 2009 and NY Giants 2012) the following season.

That could be the Ravens this season – time will tell.

But if that happens, no one can say the Ravens have rested on their laurels.

Besides the many new faces, youthfulness and newly found speed the Ravens may STILL be playing with a chip on their collective shoulder. Some may want to establish themselves in the post-Ray Lewis, post-Ed Reed era. Others may feel like they have something to prove.

Recently acquired free agents Daryl Smith, Marcus Spears and Elvis Dumervil have a combined 24 seasons of experience, yet only 3 playoff victories in total among them. Ray Rice despite his excellence during the season has struggled in the post season with fumbling. They all may take on the season with vigor and determination and feeling like they have something to prove.

Lardarius Webb, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata all had down years in 2012, saddled with various injuries. Each of these outstanding players wants to contribute more to a championship, likely feeling in some small quiet way that the team won despite their 2012 shortcomings.

Early reports suggest each is more physically prepared for the season ahead and in the cases of Suggs and Ngata, both will clearly enter the season in vastly better shape than they did in 2012.

Will any of this make a difference and allow the Ravens to do something that no defending champion has done in the last 7 seasons – win a playoff game?

On Thursday the story of the 2013 season begins.

Embrace the grind.

7 Raves on “EMBRACE THE GRIND: The Ravens Prepare to Defend Their Title

  1. Cerebral on said:

    It will take time for the new pieces to jell. It would not surprise me if the Ravens are 2-2 at the first-quarter pole of the season. After that, the Ravens will go on a series run of success finishing the season at 11-5. The Ravens will advance to the AFC Championship game. As a rule, great coaching always unveils a mega-sleeper who takes over. This year that sleeper awakes on the offense. On defense, there is too much talent to confer the title of “sleeper”. Stay excited!

  2. The Football Professor on said:

    The man who brought you the saying “Five Rings for #5 Joe Flacco beginning in Year Five (of his career)” has vowed the Ravens will repeat repeatedly and is saying so heatedly. We are all excited about the leaner, faster, younger, bigger defensive line as part of a fast defensive unit. The offense may take a minute to come together. When it does the Flacco rocket will take off! I can’t wait to see of Lewis’ and Reed’s leadership and tutelage rubbed off enough on the vets and young guys so the Ravens stay hungry and continue to play as a team. It would be a blessing to get All-Pro Vonta Leach back. Pay the man some money Oz. Leach not only kept springing Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, but he made key blocks on the kickoff returns Jacoby Jones cashed into TDs. The Ravens need to start strong, stay true to themselves and consistent, work hard in following the game plans of their excellent coaching staff, finish the regular season atop the AFC North for a three-peat, knock off NE, Houston, and Denver in that order and return to the Lombardi Trophy Podium in the Meadowlands in front of Flacco’s hometown family and friends and Ray Rice’s Rutger’s family. Go Ravens! The Repeat is on!

  3. Mill on said:

    I love that Ozzie and co. have learned to think outside of the box. 7 years in a row teams have won a Superbowl and did everything in their power to keep the gang together for another run and 7 years in a row they have failed. Ozzie and co. opt to break the insanity and try something else and the media basically writes the Ravens off as contenders for this upcoming season. The truth is the Ravens undergo an overhaul every offseason and that is why they remain competitive. The only difference this time around is that the only two players on the Ravens roster that the media didn’t mind ballwashing, Ray and Ed, are gone.

    It’s all good, I truly don’t believe there is a team in the AFC that this Ravens team can’t beat. I still think the Ravens are the class of the conference despite the changes.

  4. Hut Guy on said:

    The wizardry of Ozzie is going to payoff. I am very very excited about this team and cannot wait to see Elvis and Suggs make QB sandwiches !!! Yes, Leach must return, also.

  5. SCS master on said:

    Nothing bothers me more than to watch over the hill veteran players underperform for entirely too much $$. I would much rather watch the growing pains of a young team as they learn from their mistakes and start to gel when it counts the most. The Denver game will be how the press judges the Ravens with regards to AFC ranking however true Ravens fans know that this team will only get better as the season progresses. If we by chance pull off the upset of Denver at home, week one, watch out AFC.

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