Three ways the 2013 Ravens will be a different team

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Even after winning a Super Bowl and proving to the rest of the league that they were dominant, the Ravens do not enter 2013 as the favorites. Instead, critics still express uncertainties that the team will even make the playoffs.

While this offseason has been one of rebuilding, all of the change hasn’t been devastating. After all, there is a new shiny Lombardi in the trophy case and the demeanor around the team is of course one of a champion. There is no doubt that things must and will change for John Harbaugh and Co. in 2013, and some might happen immediately.

Here are the things that are sure to change in the upcoming season and reasons why critics can stop saying that the Ravens will fail to get nine wins this year.

Torrey Smith’s role will expand

As much as it seems like he contributed every game in 2012, Torrey Smith’s role was quieter than you might realize. In fact, he averaged just about three catches per game. He did have eight touchdowns, but the only big threat he possessed was the long ball. With Anquan Boldin in San Francisco, Smith will emerge as the true top wide-out and should see the ball not only on deep routes, but also in more creative ways in Jim Caldwell’s offense.

When he was the top dog at Maryland, he had two seasons with more than 60 grabs. This might be the year he gets back to a more prominent role. He’ll still get the “Cam Cameron streak route” a few times a game, but he should break out and get at least five or six touches each game in 2013.

Sack total might eclipse 40 for the first time since 2010

Sack stats on an earlier version of this article were incorrect. Please accept my apologies for providing the wrong information. It won’t happen again. – Joe 

On average, about eleven teams each year in the NFL surpass 40 sacks on the year. In 2011, the Ravens reached that number and beyond, putting up 48 in a monumental year. Last year was a different story as the team failed to reach the big number, underachieving with 37. Riddled by injury, you can understand why the team didn’t get there. This year, there’s little doubt that Dean Pees’ squad will reach and even most likely go beyond 40.

Losing Paul Kruger seems like a crucial blow, but he only had his tremendous season because of the lack of double-teams. Kruger is now the premiere pass-rusher in Cleveland and won’t come close to the numbers he had last year.

Elvis Dumervil, a healthy Terrell Suggs, a healthy Haloti Ngata, Courtney Upshaw with another year under his belt, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, oh and Pernell McPhee deeper on the depth chart.

Need I say more? The talent is overflowing on the line this season, and with the right play-calling, this squad will be better than ever.

Secondary improves mightily

It always seems that the biggest downfall of the Ravens defense is the pass defense, but looking ahead at 2013, there are signs that the secondary is going to be a whole lot better. It’s no secret that the corners were subpar last season, but improvement is awaiting.

Seeing Lardarius Webb go down on the turf in Week 6 still lingers heavily in our minds. Having Webby back this year will not only help shut down opposing teams’ top wide receivers, but also take the pressure off of guys like Jimmy Smith. Last year, Smith was relied on heavily to sometimes cover the best in the league—often struggling to keep up. Now that he has expanded help, he’ll hopefully flourish and become the guy the Ravens thought they were getting when they drafted him.

Having Matt Elam and Michael Huff will help as well. Huff, a former pro-bowler, will help in the run and pass game alongside the rookie, helping him grow as an NFL safety.

The previous points are just a few of the reasons that critics have little to talk about. Sure, it’s tough to repeat, but with the infusion of young talent and speed, the 2013 Ravens should be ready to make another deep run.

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About Joe Wedra

Joe Wedra
Joe is an NFL enthusiast that spends way too much time studying tape, but he wouldn't want it any other way. Joe can be found on Twitter @JoeWedra, where he'll tweet out everything from Ravens analysis to scouting reports on Division II offensive line prospects...all for the love of the...more

16 Raves on “Three ways the 2013 Ravens will be a different team

  1. Paul Lukoskie on said:

    I agree Joe.

    Let’s also not forget about Corey Graham and Chykie Brown. Chykie had some ups and downs, but overall his play was promising and I think he could start on a lot of other teams. Corey was instrumental in the SB run and his ability to play nickel or an outside corner position gives the secondary a ton of flexibility. As hard as it will be without Ed Reed back there, this could be the best secondary the Ravens have had since the early 2000′s when CMAC was in his prime.

    I also expect that this team could have a lot of rookies contributing as the season goes on. Right off the bat, there is the potential to have 4 starters (Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Brandon Williams, and Kyle Juszczyk). John Simon and Ricky Wagner could be decent rotational players as well. Furthermore, I think the Ravens hit a home run with their UDFA signings. Matt Furstenburg could definitely make this team as the 3rd tight end and guys like Roger Gaines, Moe Lee, Will Perciak, and Brandon Copeland could all make legitimate cases to be on the final 53 roster.

  2. DarthSizzle55 on said:

    Great article. You would think the sky is falling here if you watch the national media. No wonder when I talk to other teams fans they wonder how we get so “lucky” when the national media says we are so bad.

  3. Brian Tray on said:

    The Ravens have the most formidable front seven in the NFL. Period. And that is with McPhee, Upshaw, McClelland, Jones, Williams and Cody as backups. No other team has that kind of depth. I see 4 or 5 guys having 8-9 sacks since there is no chance any double team will slow these guys down. This will make the secondary that much better. I think the ravens will be the number one defense in the NFL in just about every category, most importantly in scoring defense (less than 13 pts a game) and in red zone defense (like last year).
    The players that will emerge as stars this year will be Dickson, Doss, Thompson, Williams and Streeter. Mainly because Flacco will make stars out of them. We have a great group of talented recievers that will excel since Smith will get the double team. With a full year of Caldwell, a probowl offensive line, and a great running game this offense will be one of the top scoring units in the NFL. They averaged over thirty points against three of the best defenses (SF, Denver and NE) in the NFL during their playoff run. That was not a fluke or lucky. Look for Joe to have his greatest season ever and his offense to average over 30 a game this year.
    The above assessments are why I believe it is possible for the Ravens to go undefeated this year and be the most complete team in Raven’s history.

  4. Joe Hall on said:

    Whatever the NFL record for total sacks in a SEASON and total sacks in a GAME total sacks in a QUARTER and total sacks in a HALF will be BROKEN by the RAVENS Defense in 2013.
    This Team D will strike fear in opposing QB’s and will be the NUMBER RATED DEFENSIVE TEAM in the NFL.

  5. PG County Ravens on said:

    It’s great that the national pundits are ignoring us and not given us any credit. Let’s keep it that way! Defensively, we’ll better all around due to depth, speed and guys playing within the system. That front seven will be a challenge to game plan against week in and week out! Expect a different defensive game ball awardee each week to include the 2nd tier players! DEFENSE RULES in BMORE! Offensively, we’ll be better due to a stable offensive line and speed at the WR spots; there will be little drop off in the running game with the Rice and Pierce combo! This ERA of Ravens Football will have no drop off!

  6. mark on said:

    skip bayless is a moron on steroids..he is so far up the you know what of New England that it sickens me to no end..and with the tragedy that is the hernandez situation..I’m sure he will make an excuse like he always does and say the patriots are the greatest ever blah blah..he will be leading the charge in carring the patriots around the world on his shoulders for distancing themselves from hernadez and spewing all the reasons why the patriots will win the next 3 super bowls blah blah blah..which will make it that much sweeter when the ravens stick it to cry brady and company again..the only experts at espn who have ever given the Ravens credit for anything are mike Greenberg,Ditka,and Chris Berman..which is just fine with me because it keeps our team under the radar and makes them look like fools when they don’t give Baltimore the respect they deserve..and another thing,while I am on the subject..how come the media NEVER throws big ben’s woman disrespecting issues up for grabs like they will throw ray’s troubles around..just further proff of the Baltimore bias….and dare I mention..the NFL kickoff..complete and utter malarkey….

  7. Football..Forever on said:

    Hey my football brothers! I agree Ravens are poised to repeat. However the injury bug can destroy a team! We probably need 2-3 more veterans; 1 offensive lineman, 1linebacker and 1 corner / receiver. What do you think?

  8. Mike on said:

    Not to pick your nits but the Ravens had 48 sacks in 2011, which I believe is the 2nd most in franchise history behind the 50 in 2006. I agree with you Ed, we have more lineman and linebackers than we have room on our team for. A WR wouldn’t hurt, but there is no one out there who would fit. I’m not ready to say we are going undefeated and number 1 in offense and defense, but I definitely think we end up with a top 5 D and a top 10 O this year, as well as a 3rd straight division title, and a 6th straight year with at least one playoff win. All of this barring catastrophic injury of course.

    • Mike on said:

      Just double checked, our 3 highest sack seasons were 60 in 2006, 49 in 1999, and 48 2011. So 2011 was 3rd, but still one of our best ever.

  9. gordonlee on said:

    “critics still express uncertainties that the team will even make the playoffs.” that’s because nearly all of them (critics) are challenged in their ability to think outside the sports media’s formulaic box. they’d rather hype teams like the cowboys, packers, steelers, patriots, 49ers because of their supposed nationwide popularity; it’s easier than doing real analysis of the tangibles & intangibles that make-up the qualities of a true champion.

  10. Wide Receiver Assets on said:

    I’m tired of people saying we need to sign an experienced wide receiver. For one thing, we have some incredible young WR’s already, just waiting for their chance. Now think what will happen if 2 or 3 of these young guys are given game experience and they work out well. Then we will have 4 or 5 quality wide receivers in the next year or two. At which point we could engineer one or two trades to add depth to other needed positions at that time, such as left tackle or linebacker. I hope that Thompson, Doss, Streeter and Mellette all get a lot of touches this coming year.

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