Before this season one of the Ravens biggest question marks was the secondary. The team was working with an oft injured Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb had just come off an injury and we had recently lost Josh Wilson to the Redskins.
For the past few seasons NFL analysts used the Ravens weakness in the secondary as the reason the team would never make it to the Super Bowl. I cannot blame them as the line-up shown above does look extremely weak.
At first it seemed the Ravens were not doing much to combat this as they went through the preseason without signing a big name free agent for the secondary. They let Josh Wilson, their best corner from last season, leave for Washington and stated that the pass rush was more to blame than the secondary last season.
In the 2011 draft the team drafted CB Jimmy Smith from Colorado in the first round to be their future stud and hopefully the next Chris McAlister. That was one good move, showing that the Ravens were aware of the situation at corner. But one rookie CB was not what this team needed to contend in 2011.
Then as the season approached Foxworth looked horrible in preseason, bringing about more questions. Just before the season he was placed on Injured Reserve. This left the Ravens with a starting duo of first year starter Cary Williams and some combination of rookie Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb who was just returning from a serious injury and Chris Carr who was coming from the very same injury.
Little did we know that Jimmy Smith would get hurt in week one against the Steelers and it really would not matter!
Cary Williams played like a seasoned veteran and Webb had a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Even little known back-up Danny Gorrer came in, when Carr was not able to play, and played above all expectations.
The pass rush stepped up and helped the corners coverage schemes and all was well in "Bird-Land." Even when Jimmy Smith was ready to return, the team was able to work him into the line-up slowly without forcing him on the field and it all worked out for the best in the end as the Ravens ranked in the top 10 in pass defense.
Now, this season Baltimore will be entering the year with less turnover in this area than most others.