With the season so close I just wanted to share some personal views and beliefs; while allowing fellow fans to weigh in and see how we all feel. With all the "Lack of WR depth" dominating Raven headlines, I honestly dont want to write too much about that, but I might as well start this off with my view on our wideout situation and get it out of the way.
Wide Receiver (drama): With the additional bulk Demetrius Williams has put on, I am a complete believer in him as far as being a very solid receiver goes. He has all of the physical abilities you'd dream of for a wideout, he has great height, above average speed, a vertical leap comparable to the best in the league, great hands. (And now) A very great frame to work with. He can and WILL be quite a force on the field this coming season. As for Mark Clayton, his hands are undeniable, if he can get a decent feel on the pass, he will catch it, no questions asked. While his height may not be ideal, he makes up for it with crisp route running and great yards after catch. Marcus Smith received much spotlight during OTA's and is poised to make a run for the #3 spot on the roster, as far as physical attributes goes, the guy has it all, along with experience as a running back, giving him quite an edge when it comes to open field running and taking/giving hits. Justin Harper is a name that has been all over BR.com since reporting to camp, very similar to Smith as far as build/talent goes, but at this point in time, both stand unproven. Kelley Washington, Yamon Figurs and a few other names will all battle for a roster spot, special teams play will definitely be key when it comes to landing a spot in this group. Do I feel we need to bring in another man to succeed? No. Do I feel it would be great to have another 'RELIABLE' man to throw the ball to? Absolutely. I will come back to this topic when I come back my offensive opinions later in the blog.
Defense: My favorite, everyones favorite. Where to start? Let me first say I love this defense we currently have for so many different reasons, mainly because we have quality men at every position, along with many backups who could easily fill in for an injured player and play at a very high level simply because of the talent around him. Lets get to the good stuff: Did anyone catch that National Championship a few years back when the Florida Gators demolished the Ohio State Buckeyes? If you did; I want you to think about the way that Florida defense swarmed and dominated every snap of the game. They were so fast, they may have been over-powered in many areas of the field, but their speed and intelligence was no match for the powerful Buckeyes. Well the mastermind behind that defense was a man by the name of Greg Mattison, the newly appointed defensive coordinator of our beloved Baltimore Ravens defense. Not impressed? Lets get to the good stuff; does anyone find it ironic that our secondary is all of a sudden filled with very intelligent speedy cover-men? And when I say speedy I dont mean simply fast, Im talking world class speed, Fabian Washington, Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb and all 3 in the lower 4.3 bracket. But as we all know; speed alone is not enough to win a battle, especially not in an NFL secondary, you need to have a mix of everything, well we happen to have a lot of everything. The return of DeWan Landry will surely make the name Jim Leonhard a thing of the past, DeWan Landry was missed very much during the regular season last year, during his rookie season he quickly picked up that "Ray Lewis mentality," the one where you make a point to be involved in a tackle, no matter how far you have to run, you get your body in there. That reason alone is why I cannot wait for DeWan Landry to come back this year. Behind Mr. Landry is a man by the name of Tom Zbikowski, rather than praising him for the great player he is, ill make it easy; youtube him, his play is undescribable and when given the opportunity; he will shine. Haruki Nakamora is another name in that secondary that not many know of, he has a natural knack for the ball, when he is on the field he finds the ball and desperately wants it to touch his hands, very similar to another man who plays for the Ravens, odd. The loss of Corey Ivy is a blessing in disguise, we lose a quality player who just couldnt take the next step as a cover man in our system and replace him with a pro-bowl calibur starting corner by the name of Samari Rolle, now thats what I like to call an upgrade. He will be less prone to injury and I honestly feel Mr. Rolle could be the best Nickle in the NFL this season. So right there we have a really talented secondary, speed, power, big hits, veteran leadrship, the whole nine yards, Id actually go as far as to saying the whole 10 yards. But wait, I saved the best for last, because when an NFL Quarterback goes to sleep at night, he has one thing and one thing only on his mind, that thing has a name: Ed Reed. Shall we talk about the best player in the NFL, the most intelligent player in the NFL, etc. Ed Reed is the exception to the "No I in Team" concept, this man alone has the talent and smarts to single handedly (literally) win a game. Many great players are referred to as "Game-changers," Ed Reed is a Game-Winner. He is without a doubt the greatest safety to play this game and will be mentioned in the same sentence as Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson. What about the linebackers, Jarrett Johnson: unsung hero, this man is the reason our defense is always one step ahead, he does the dirty work and does it better than anyone out there. Terrell Suggs: Need I say more? He can do it all, drop into coverage, drop into a 3 point stance, rush the passer, stop the run, etc. Ray Lewis: One of the greatest leaders to ever step foot on the field, his intelligence is un-matchable and his heart will never be matched. When a discussion about the greatest LB of all time comes up, Ray Lewis' name will be mentioned. Filling the Bart Scott void is not as much an issue as the "experts" seem to think. Let's think back; Jamie Sharper, Edgerton Hartwell, Tommy Polley, Bart Scott, in a Baltimore ravens uniform these men were pro bowl players, they were raw talent surrounded by great talents, its actually a great equation if you think about it. We have 2 true athletes who can and will replace Bart Scott, JaMeel McClain has something special about him, his determination is unbelievable, he plays with the heart that not many players have. Tavares Gooden is a Miami U alumni, he can outrun most wide-outs in the league and he has a striking resemblance to a young Ray Lewis.
On the defensive line, we possess the raw talent of second round draft pick Paul Kruger, many believe he will be a very similar player to Terrell Suggs. His toughness is undeniable, thus far he has a lot to prove. The return of Kelly Gregg will be huge for the front 3, his mastery of the leverage techniques is unlike any other out there. Justin Bannon stepped up as an excellent replacement for Gregg last season and could easily start for any team in the NFL. Trevor Pryce may be getting up in age but his talent and intelligence is maybe at its best its ever been. His power is too much for any single tackle in a one-on-one situation and he opens up so many holes for our linebackers. Haloti Ngata may be the best DL in the NFL, he is a 340lb man who plays like a line-backer. He hits harder than many defensive players in the league and has an extensive Rugby history, long story short; the mans a freak of nature. To wrap this up lets think back to the Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans of last season, Haloti Ngata drops back into coverage in the Texans endzone, a pass is fired, Haloti Ngata jumps up and swats the pass, talk about remarkable. As if the swat wasnt enough, Ngata proceeds to dive and catch the swatted pass in the endzone for his second, yes I said second interception of the season. With that said, I think it is safe to say that our defense is ready to roll.
Part 2 will cover our offensive line, tight ends, special teams and quarterbacks. Hopefully you all have enjoyed so far, please feel free to eigh in. Lets go Ravens!