The start of a season brings newfound hope for teams looking to achieve the ultimate prize. With a clean slate, the Baltimore Ravens jumped to a 3-0 record and looked to put the putrid 2015 season behind them. However, the past continued to haunt the team.
The Ravens dropped four games and finished their roller coaster season at 8-8. For the second straight year, the Ravens ended the season without a playoff berth. Not accounting injuries, the Ravens problems continued to linger. The front office tried to solve the problem, but have fallen short.
Baltimore Ravens 2017 Off-Season: Top Three Needs
The Ravens made the playoffs the first five years under the John Harbaugh era, which includes a 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII. However, after that miraculous season the Ravens have only made the playoffs once. A weak secondary, edge rushers and inconsistency on the offense are just a few things general manager Ozzie Newsome must address during the draft and via free agency to put the Ravens back on the path to success.
While the Ravens finished the season ranked ninth in pass defense, it’s no secret that much of the success comes when cornerback Jimmy Smith is on the field. However, recently injuries have sidelined Smith often and the Ravens don’t have the depth to compete. The team has struggled when Shareece Wright took the majority of the reps. With Smith off the field, the Ravens had to use safety help, which consequently also hurt their run defense.
Second year player Tavon Young had a decent rookie year, but it would be wise to have another strong cornerback in play. Additionally Jerraud Powers is a free agent so the team must also figure out its backup situation.
The Ravens haven’t had much luck with the wide receivers they have drafted. Steve Smith Sr., the team’s No.1 receiver who they acquired via free agency in 2014, retired. Kamar Aiken, an unrestricted free agent, most likely won’t be back after expressing frustration about his role with the team.
Breshad Perriman showed glimpses of high-level play, but he will need to show the team a lot more during the off-season to cement himself as the number one wide receiver. He finished the year with only three touchdowns and hasn’t developed as fast as people would have hoped. The Ravens also have speedster, Mike Wallace who accounts for $8 million in cap space. Wallace and Smith combined for nine of the team’s 20 passing TD’s so if the Ravens choose to cut Wallace, they’ll have to look elsewhere to get production. Quarterback Joe Flacco has a strong arm, but he needs both a speedy and physical pass catcher in his arsenal of weapons.
The Ravens desperately need an edge rusher. Terrell Suggs has been effective throughout his career, but he’s beginning to get up there in age. Elvis Dumervil‘s production has slowed down due to injury and is a salary-cap casualty at $8 million so the team can choose to sever ties with him.
The Ravens finished the season ranked No. 24 in the league with 31 sacks. Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith will most likely assume their position, but must step up their game for the Ravens to have a chance at success.