@David I get it. You are a Broncos fan. Of course you are going to think they are the best team. The season is 3 weeks old. Let the teams play a few more before touting your team. They are very good and perhaps have the best defense in the league. Minnesota's may be better, but that is a toss up also. Simien is OK. Do not go throwing him as great yet. I seem to remember a QB named Foles having 27 TD's and 2 INT's one year and look how that turned out.... Walt has him in the top 5 and I feel it could be any of those 5 as the top team by years end. You take this whole ranking thing way too seriously dude...
QB Marc Bulger, WR Anquan Boldin, WR Donte' Stallworth, DE/DT Cory Redding, CB Walt Harris, FS Ken Hamlin, K Shayne Graham.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, NT Terrence Cody, TE Ed Dickson, TE Dennis Pitta, DE/DT Arthur Jones.
WR Frank Walker, TE Quinn "Miracle Man" Sypniewski, OT Adam Terry, DE/DT Dwan Edwards, DE/DT Justin Bannan, CB Samari Rolle, CB Walt Harris.
2010 Baltimore Ravens Offense:
Casual observers may recall Joe Flacco's late-season and playoff struggles when writing off the Ravens as a possible Super Bowl contender in 2010. Flacco played poorly down the stretch, but the important thing to remember is how effective he was early on, and why he experienced an unceremonious drop-off.
In the first six games of the 2009 season, Flacco compiled 1,674 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 64.4 percent of his passes on a solid 7.4 YPA. So, what happened? Flacco simply had numerous injuries that severely limited him. As offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said, "If you actually saw those injuries and saw the amount of rehab and everything it took for him to get ready to play on Sunday, people would be amazed at his performance."
What's really amazing is that Flacco was able to post those stats in the first six games of the season with only two reliable targets: Ray Rice and Derrick Mason. Things have certainly changed since. Baltimore traded for Anquan Boldin, who will be a massive red-zone target for Flacco. Donte' Stallworth, fresh off a suspension, will be an upgrade as a slot receiver. Tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta were acquired in the 2010 NFL Draft. With all of these weapons, Flacco is poised for a monstrous season.
Flacco will once again be well protected by one of the elite offensive lines in the NFL. Michael Oher shined as a rookie last season; he was guilty of only one sack and one penalty in the final six games of the year, including the playoffs. Baltimore's coaching staff thought so much of Oher that they're moving him to left tackle in 2010. Jared Gaither, one of the top tackles in the NFL, will be more than adequate on the right side. On the interior, left guard Ben Grubbs, center Matt Birk and right guard Marshal Yanda worked extremely well as a trio in 2009. Yanda entered the starting lineup in Week 12 and played brilliantly.
What the offensive front did best last year was open up huge running lanes for Ray Rice. Rice wreaked havoc upon opposing defenses, rushing for 1,339 yards on a 5.3 average, as well as catching 78 passes for 702 receiving yards. It's difficult to believe, but Rice could be even better in 2010; Boldin is a terrific run-blocker.
2010 Baltimore Ravens Defense:
It should surprise no one that the Ravens finished in the top eight in terms of points, yardage, passing yards and rushing yards allowed. They're the Ravens, after all. Still, Baltimore had one glaring defensive weakness - its pass rush.
The Ravens had just 32 sacks in 2009, as Trevor Pryce and Jarret Johnson paced the team with 6.5 and 6 sacks, respectively. Terrell Suggs, expected to lead Baltimore in this department, finished with only 4.5 sacks. Fresh off his 6-year, $62.5 million contract, Suggs was out of shape the entire year. Suggs showed up to only one minicamp all offseason, so it looks like he's continuing his plan to steal money from the owner.
Perhaps expecting another lethargic year from Suggs, general manager Ozzie Newsome spent his top selection in the 2010 NFL Draft on rush linebacker Sergio Kindle. Kindle was a first-round talent, but fell into the second round because of knee issues. Even if Kindle is healthy, he's no lock to contribute right away, as most rookie pass-rushers tend to transition into the NFL at a slow pace. Kindle is a long shot to beat out Suggs, even if the latter is sluggish.
The secondary is also a bit of a concern. Baltimore surrendered at least 233 passing yards in three of its final four games in 2009. Rookie corner Lardarius Webb, who was having a great season, tore his ACL a week before this stretch. Fabian Washington, likely the nickel in 2010, is also coming off a torn ACL. No. 1 cornerback Domonique Foxworth luckily is fine.
All-Pro free safety Ed Reed scared all Ravens fans this offseason by talking about retirement. Reed wasn't his usual self in 2009, as he was plagued by a hip injury that required surgery. He'll miss part of training camp, but should be fine by the opener. Strong safety Dawan Landry was the team's strongest defensive back during its final four-game span.
As for the linebacking corps, there are a few issues. Ray Lewis just had a great season, but celebrated his 35th birthday in May. Can he keep playing on a high level? And who will be the second banana to Lewis? Dannell Ellerbe started at the end of the year, but didn't perform well. Tavares Gooden is the better player, but has suffered concussions and knee injuries.
The defensive line is the strength of this defense. Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata and rookie Terrence Cody are all massive run-stuffers. Cody reportedly has been better than expected in minicamp, adding to the mystery why so many teams in need of a nose tackle passed on him in the 2010 NFL Draft. I guess the adage "stupid teams make stupid picks" applied to those who passed on Mount Cody.
2010 Baltimore Ravens Schedule and Intangibles:
Between Steven Hauschka and Billy Cundiff, the Ravens had major field goal problems in 2009. They signed Shayne Graham this offseason. While Graham is reliable most of the time, he has a dubious history of choking in clutch situations.
Sam Koch had a decent 2009 campaign, maintaining a 43.7-yard average with 26-of-73 kicks inside the 20.
The Ravens have allowed three special-teams scores the past two seasons. They scored one of their own last year, as Lardarius Webb took a kickoff to the house. With Webb coming off a torn ACL, that's unlikely to happen again in 2010.
Baltimore's first two games are on the road, both of which are against playoff teams (Jets, Bengals). It doesn't get any easier later on, as five of the Ravens' final six non-divisional contests are against the Dolphins, Falcons, Panthers, Texans and Saints.
2010 Baltimore Ravens Analysis: The last time Baltimore's offense ranked ahead of its defense in terms of points was 1997. With Joe Flacco entering his third season and having tons of weapons at his disposal, that may finally change. For the first time in 13 years, the defense is the weaker unit. But if Terrell Suggs comes into camp in shape, Ray Lewis is still very effective, and Lardarius Webb recovers from his ACL tear, the Ravens can easily win the Super Bowl.
Ozzie Newsome is one of the top general managers in the NFL, and he struck gold once again in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Sitting at No. 25, Newsome completely robbed the Broncos in a pick swap, winning the deal by a 40-percent margin according to the Trade Value Chart. Newsome then took two first-round prospects, Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody, in the second round.
Newsome also did a great job finding more weapons for Joe Flacco. In addition to Anquan Boldin (acquired for third- and fourth-round picks), the Ravens added receiver David Reed, and tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta to the roster. If Flacco had any emotions, he'd be a happy man right now.
Simply put, Baltimore had an incredible draft. The only reason I'm not giving it an A+ is because the cornerback position wasn't addressed.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: A
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
43. Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB, Texas
Sergio Kindle falls because of some knee concerns, but this is why Ozzie Newsome is a genius. He takes the best prospects available and finds talented players because other teams foolishly pass on them. (Pick Grade: A)
57. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama
Ozzie Newsome strikes again. Terrence Cody was projected by some to go in the first round. Baltimore needed to beef up the defensive line, and as long as Cody keeps his weight down - which is an issue - this is a great pick. (Pick Grade: B)
70. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
Love it. Ed Dickson gives Joe Flacco yet another weapon at a big position of need. Baltimore's offense is going to be pretty scary. (Pick Grade: A)
114. Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU
Like the Patriots, the Ravens double dipped at tight end. Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta complement each other well. Joe Flacco has to be thrilled. (Pick Grade: B)
156. David Reed, WR, Utah
Some like David Reed as a mid-round receiver. I'm pretty indifferent. But Joe Flacco gets yet another weapon. (Pick Grade: B)
157. Arthur Jones, DE/DT, Syracuse
Once projected to be a first-round pick, Arthur Jones fell because of injuries and effort concerns. However, he's a great value pick in the middle of Round 5. (Pick Grade: A)
194. Ramon Harewood, OT, Morehouse
A huge offensive tackle (6-7, 360), Ramon Harwood can fit in at right tackle if the Ravens eventually trade Jared Gaither. (Pick Grade: B)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Mike McLaughlin, ILB, Boston College
Prince Miller, CB, Georgia
A quick summary of how Baltimore's 2009 season went: Penalty. Fumble inside the 20. Penalty. Penalty. Missed field goal. Penalty. Dropped touchdown. Penalty. Fumble inside the 20. Penalty. Penalty. Missed field goal. Penalty. Dropped touchdown. Penalty. Fumble inside the 20. Penalty. Penalty. Missed field goal. Penalty. Dropped touchdown. Penalty. Fumble inside the 20. Penalty. Penalty. Missed field goal. Penalty. Dropped touchdown. Penalty. Fumble inside the 20. Penalty. Penalty. Missed field goal. Penalty. Dropped touchdown. Penalty.
Ravens cut CB Walt Harris
Redskins acquire QB John Beck from Ravens for CB Doug Dutch
Ravens sign CB Walt Harris
Ravens sign QB Marc Bulger
Ravens sign FS Ken Hamlin
Ravens re-sign FB Le'Ron McClain
Ravens re-sign SS Dawan Landry
Ravens re-sign OT Jared Gaither
Ravens sign K Shayne Graham
Ravens re-sign ILB Jameel McClain
Ravens re-sign CB Fabian Washington
Ravens re-sign P Sam Koch
Ravens re-sign WR Mark Clayton
Ravens sign CB Travis Fisher
Ravens announce retirement of CB Samari Rolle
Ravens waive FB Charles Ali
Ravens re-sign OT Tony Moll
Ravens re-sign WR Demetrius Williams
Ravens re-sign QB Troy Smith
Ravens re-sign G Marshal Yanda
Ravens re-sign DE/OLB Antwan Barnes
Ravens re-sign G/C Chris Chester
Ravens cut CB Samari Rolle
Ravens re-sign QB John Beck
Ravens re-sign K Billy Cundiff
Ravens sign DE/DT Cory Redding
Bills sign DE/DT Dwan Edwards
Colts sign OT Adam Terry
Ravens re-sign WR Derrick Mason
Broncos sign DE/DT Justin Bannan
Ravens acquire WR Anquan Boldin and 2010 5th-rounder from Cardinals for 2010 3rd-, 4th-rounders
Ravens tender NT Lamar Divens
Ravens tender QB John Beck
Ravens cut TE Quinn "Miracle Man" Sypniewski
No. 1 Wide Receiver: This should have been addressed last offseason. Besides Derrick Mason, Joe Flacco had absolutely nothing to work with. Unless Jermaine Gresham is available, the Ravens need to spend their No. 1 selection on a wideout. Traded for Anquan Boldin
Tight End: Todd Heap is a shell of his former self. He somehow stayed healthy in 2009, but that can't possibly happen again next year, right? A tight end will be chosen in the first three rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. Drafted Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta
Cornerback: Lardarius Webb has proven that he's a very solid corner, but the Ravens still need depth at the position. Signed Walt Harris
Defensive End: Even if Dwan Edwards is re-signed, the Ravens may opt to bring in some competition for him. At 35, Trevor Pryce can't be a factor anymore. Drafted Terrence Cody and Arthur Jones; signed Cory Redding
No. 2 Wide Receiver: Who knows if Derrick Mason will retire or not? Baltimore needs to protect itself by adding a solid secondary target for Joe Flacco. Re-signed Derrick Mason; drafted David Reed; signed Donte' Stallworth
Kicker: The Ravens never should have let Matt Stover get away. Steven Hauschka and Billy Cundiff did a great job missing easy field goals all year. Signed Shayne Graham
Offensive Tackle Depth: Oniel Cousins struggled when called upon last season. The Ravens need a more reliable option behind Jared Gaither and Michael Oher. Drafted Ramon Harewood
Safety Depth: Only if Ed Reed retires. It's doubtful Reed hangs up it, but I'm just mentioning it because he hinted toward retirement after the playoff loss to the Colts. Signed Ken Hamlin
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Shayne Graham, K, Bengals. Age: 32. Signed with Ravens (1 year, $1.5 million)
Shayne Graham has hit at least 80 percent of his field goals every year since 2002. However, he completely gagged in the playoffs, missing two easy kicks. You have to wonder if that will impact him psychologically going forward.
Cory Redding, DE/DT, Seahawks. Age: 29. Signed with Ravens (2 years)
Cory Redding didn't have a very good year - and this was his contract season. Not good.
Marc Bulger, QB, Rams. Age: 34. Signed with Ravens (1 year)
If this were Marc Bulger circa 2006, he would be rated higher. But this 34-year-old version of Bulger is damaged goods and has the David Carr "deer in the headlights" syndrome.
Ken Hamlin, FS, Cowboys. Age: 29. Signed with Ravens (1 year)
Was cut because of his salary. Can be an effective backup somewhere.
Donte Stallworth, WR, Browns. Age: 29. -- Sii> -- Signed with Broncos (5 years)
Baltimore Ravens Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 15): No cap.
Jared Gaither (RFA), OT, Ravens. Age: 24. Re-signed with Ravens (1 year, $2.4 million)
Franchise left tackles don't grow on trees, and the Ravens need to make sure they retain Jared Gaither. Gaither has a bit of a problem with penalties, but he allowed just four sacks in 11 starts. At just 24, he'll keep improving.
A physical run-blocker, Marshal Yanda got over his horrific knee injury and took Chris Chester's spot in the lineup in November.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens. Age: 36. Re-signed with Ravens (2 years, $8 million)
It's amazing that at age 35 and the only viable option in Baltimore's offense, Derrick Mason notched his eighth 1,000-yard season in nine years. He's not a No. 1 anymore, but he continues to be very consistent.
Antwan Barnes is a pass-rushing specialist, but had just three sacks in 2009 (though they all came in the final four weeks of the season).
Fabian Washington (RFA), CB, Ravens. Age: 27. Re-signed with Ravens (1 year, $1.8 million)
Already a poor tackler, Fabian Washington is coming off a torn ACL.
Quinn "Miracle Man" Sypniewski, TE, Ravens. Age: 28.
Quinn "Miracle Man" Sypniewski is the only player in NFL history capable of putting up stats while on injured reserve. The Miracle Man is a solid blocker who caught 34 passes for 246 yards in 2007.
Divisional Rival History: Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis owns his former team. He's 9-5 against the Ravens. The Bengals have won five of the past seve meetings. Cleveland Browns: The old Browns have beaten the new Browns in the past four matchups. Pittsburgh Steelers: The host dominates this rivalry, winning 14 of the previous 16 matchups, though it should be noted that Joe Flacco is 0-4 against Ben Roethlisberger.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)