We know there are more then 10 reasons and you also may have put them in a different order. This is what I came up with and I put them in the order I thought were most important. So here we go starting with number 10.
# 10 The New Coaches - The Ravens brought in some new coaches that will help the team. QB's coach Jim Zorn was the Head Coach of the Washington Redskins last year. He is an ex-QB with 24 yrs. in the league and 13 yrs. as a coach. Zorn tutored Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck, who set several franchise marks and earned 3 Pro Bowl nods under Zorn's direction. Zorn was also instrumental in the development of rookie QB Charlie Batch, whose 88.3 passer rating in 1998 ranks 4th-highest in NFL history for rookies. LB's coach Dean Pees was the defensive coodinator for the New England Patriots from 2006-2009 and LB's coach 2004-2005. Pees' 2008 unit ranked 2nd in the NFL allowing only 309.9 yds. per game. In 2007 the Patriots defense contributed to the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history. In 2006 Pees' defense set a franchise record for points allowed per game averaging 14.8. He also has a Maryland connection as Navy's secondary coach from 1987-1989 and was head coach John Harbaugh's defensive coordinator during his 1983 season at Miami of Ohio, where Harbaugh played defensive back. Outside LB's coach Ted Monachino has 4 yrs. experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2006-2009. In 2001-2005 Ted was with the Arizona State Sun Devils and LB Terrell Suggs during his All-American collegiate career. "It brings back old memories," Suggs said. "Not to say our last coach wasn't good, I think I relate better to coach Monachino, so I think it's definately a step up having him around."
(Click on the 'Jump' to see the other nine and top reason that Ravens' fans should "drink the Purple Koolaid")
#9 The Rookies- Sergio Kindle, Terrence (Mount) Cody, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Arthur Jones and David Reed. This may turn out to be one of the best draft class in the brief history of the Ravens. All six players could get on the field this year and I think they will be impact players in the future. Kindle, Cody and Jones will make the defense much better today and Dickson, Pitta and Reed make the offense better as well. Those players give depth to an already good team. OT Ramon Harewood will take some development but he's 6'7" and 360lbs. Considered a talent down the road but labeled a boom or bust prospect. Congrats to GM Ozzie Newsome & company.
#8 The Receiving Corps- The Ravens have bolstered their receiving corps like never before. Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte Stallworth. That gives the Ravens exactly what they had been looking for the past decade. They are primary, posession and deep threat receivers. Lining Stallworth up in the slot he should be able to spread the defense out, which will open up the passing and running game for the Ravens. Barring injury this could be one of the most formidable receiving corps in the league. The 4th receiver will likely be Mark Clayton. Returning TE Todd Heap comes back along with two very good pass catching TE's Dickson and Pitta. One will make an immediate impact this year. The Ravens may show some 2 TE sets with one blocking and the other lined up as the H-back/motion TE. FB LeRon McClain doesn't have the best pass catching hands but all 3 of these TE's have excellant hands. Both rookie TE's are similar in size and weight at 6'4" and 250/245 (Dickson is 22 and Pitta is 24 years old). Pitta not considered as exposive as Dickson. Pitta who is 2 years older played in a more wide-open offense at BYU. The scouting report on Pitta is; pass-catching TE with soft hands that will catch everything in space and always finds the open part of the field. The O-Line will be strong again this year now that they have some continuity of playing together and should give QB Joe Flacco time to throw the ball.
Pitta's numbers Dickson's numbers
2007 recs. 59 yds. 813 43/ 453
2008 83 1083 35/ 508
2009 62 829 42/ 552
TDs. 21 TDs. 12
#7 The Running Game- Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain. That is a solid 3-headed monster. Rice will get the bulk of the carries while McGahee gets his in the red zone and McClain in short yardage play. All 3 players are Pro Bowlers. Again the O-Line is in good shape, will be very aggressive and knock defenders off the ball.
#6 Cam Cameron- I'll start with Head Coach John Harbaugh because a lot of credit with the current and future success of this team relies with the head coach. I think he is a man of pride, patience and character. I also think he is strong on the concept of team unity - which is, we win as one and we lose as one. Coach Harbaugh also hired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. If the players on this offense do not get you excited as a Ravens fan then the combination of them with Cam Cameron certainly will. Cam is one of the most unique and creative coordinators in the NFL. Cam coached at the University of Michigan under head coach Bo Schembechler. The Wolverines won 6 Big Ten titles and played in 10 bowl games while Cam was there from 1984-1993. Cam moved on to the Washington Redskins as QB coach from 1994-1996. He then became the head coach at Indiana University from 1997-2001. When Cam became the OC for the San Diego Chargers (2002-2006) he launched his aggressive attack on opponents. While in San Diego, Cam was instrumental in the development of Pro Bowlers QB's Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates. Here are his numbers in San Diego.
Pts. scored League Rank. Record Avg. yds./ gm
2002 333 20th 8-8 332.8
2003 313 16th 4-12 322.9
2004 446 3rd 12-4 346.4
2005 418 5th 9-7 347.9
2006 492 1st 14-2 365.0
Sports Illustrated named Cam Cameron it's "Offensive Assistant of the Year" in 2004.
The Ravens have not had an offense since Vinny Testaverde. There was very little offense here during the Brian Billick years. The Ravens won football games with decent running, defense, field position and Matt Stover. Mildly put - they were boring to watch (if you're not a Ravens fan). 2008 was Coach Harbaugh and Joe Flaccos' rookie year. The Ravens went to the AFC Championship game. That was also Cam's first year here as OC. The Ravens had a rookie QB and didn't come close to having what you might call a lethal offense but they were fun to watch. They are fun to watch even if you are not a Ravens fan. I can remember saying " even if we lose this game to the Steelers (which we did) this has been a great year!" This team is finally exciting. It's due to Cam Camerons' creative offensive schemes all the while not allowing Joe Flacco to do too much. He had the reins drawn on Flacco for most of the season. Cam expanded on that last year and this year we can expect this offense to attack defenses the way he did (to a certain degree) in San Diego. I think Cam opens his playbook this year. This years' Ravens will be more of a balanced attack with some gadgets or trickery but Cam doesn't want anyone thinking this is a gimmick offense. In an interview with James Walker of ESPN.com, Cam says "If we had it our way, we'd lead the league in scoring and lead the league in ball security. I think being in the top 5 in that this year is realistic!"
#5 Ray Rice # 27- 3rd year Pro Bowl back whose numbers get better each year. Break away speed as evidenced in the New England playoff game last year. Low center of gravity allows him to stay on his feet longer and likes physical contact. All around excellent running back, poised to pick up right where he left off last year. Should have a big season this year as the offense commits to being more balanced, instead of run first. That may keep him fresh.
#4 Defensive QB Pressure- Lets face it. The Ravens didn't put much pressure on the QB last year. This year a rejuvenated OLB Terrell Suggs is quoted as saying "It will never happen again" referring to his lowest sack total of his career last year. The Pro Bowler reported to camp last year much heavier than normal at 275-280 lbs. He then sustained injuries to his foot in the preseason and sprained his medial collateral ligament on an illegal block by the Browns Brady Quinn. He ended up with career low 4.5 sacks. That is not the Sizzle we know. This year he has worked out on his own with a personal trainer in Arizona. This year he has been with the Ravens the majority of the off-season workouts. The results show he is on his way back down to 260lbs. "Terrell Suggs is committed to getting into great shape," said John Harbaugh. DE Paul Kruger didn't get much play last season but this year he will. He's doing the opposite of Suggs in weight. Last year he came in at 260lbs. as a rookie, this year he has bulked up to 275lbs. He has the athletic ability to get to the QB and spell DE Trevor Pryce. Pryce with less reps should be more effective at chasing down the QB. Sergio Kindle the hybrid rookie out of Texas is 6'4", 255lbs. played OLB. He has also played DE, that versatility is one of the things that caught the Ravens attention along with crushing QB's. He can play a 3-4 or a 4-3. He certainly has the size, speed and skills to do anything. Like for instance chasing down QB's which is what the Ravens are asking him to do!
#3 Joe Flacco #5- QB Joe Flacco seems to get a little better each year. This year could be a major step in the progression of the young QB. If the O-Line does a good job this year which is to say give Joe some decent time to throw, Joe takes that huge step in possibly being right up there with the big boys.
Comp. Atts. Yds. TDs. INTs. QB rating
2008 257 428 2971 14 12 80.3
2009 315 499 3613 21 12 88.9
#2 Big "D"- The Ravens lost a few players on defense. DT Justin Bannan to the Broncos, DE Dwan Edwards to the Bills and CB Samari Rolle to retirement. They have signed DL Cory Redding to replace Edwards, who many pundits have called that an upgrade. The Ravens have also added some youth with some age up front. DE Trevor Pryce (34) and DT Kelly Gregg (33) are getting older so the Ravens drafted Terrence Cody and Art Jones for back up. The Ravens will stuff the run again this year and get pressure on the QB. Very solid LB's with some depth. Secondary gave up big plays early on then settled down and played much better as the season progressed. The Ravens signed veteran CB Travis Fisher to cover for injuries to CB's Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb early on. The increased QB pressure up front will result in better play from the secondary as the QB's time to deliver the ball decreases.
2009 Defensive Rankings: Total yds. 300.5 avg/gm. (3rd); Pts. per gm. 16.3 avg. (3rd)
That was the regular season. In the playoffs the Ravens were 1st out of all 12 playoff teams in total yds. avg/gm., 235.5 and tied for 1st in pts. allowed at 17.0. While that was only two games, those two games were against the Patriots and the Colts. The Ravens Defense usually plays well in the playoffs. Now the #1 reason to drink the Purple Koolaid in 2010 is...
#1 Anquan Boldin # 81- Anquan Boldin is like the 2000 Ravens' TE Shannon Sharpe. When the Ravens put together that Super Bowl Team, Ozzie went out and got that "one veteran piece" that put the Ravens over the hump. Shannon Sharpe's veteran leadership on offense was the key. Sharpe made that one huge play in all 3 playoff games that year. Against Denver it was being in the right spot at the right time and taking a deflected pass to the house. Against Tennessee it was the long pass from Trent Dilfer down to the 1 yard line. In Oakland it was the short pass over the middle for 94 yards and a TD to get the Ravens to Super Bowl 35. Anquan Boldin is that player. A proven and talented veteran receiver that will make the players on the offensive side of the ball play at a higher and more confident level. He will do some other things also like open up the middle of the field, create yards after the catch, demand double coverage and catch TDs. He is an 8 year vet that will be 30 in October. He's a 6'1", 218 lb. 3-time Pro Bowler. He has over 7500 yds. in receiving along with 44 TDs. Welcome to Baltimore "Q." You just may be that missing piece. Will Anquan be that missing piece that does it for the Ravens? Can the Ravens beat the Steelers or Colts in the Playoffs? If the Ravens can stay injury free anything can happen. We'll see!