On Sunday February 3, 2013 when the purple and gold confetti fell from the ceiling of the Mercedes Benz Super Dome in New Orleans, it was the end of an era. An era that began in 1996, had its ups and downs, but in the end brought the city of Baltimore two Super Bowl titles. It would be the last time any of us would see Ray Lewis strap up his pads and put on a number 52 Ravens jersey. In these past 17 seasons we have seen an amazing stretch of dominance with the 2000-2001 Ravens defense being arguably the greatest ever.
Coming off of a victory in Super Bowl 47, with the retirement of Ray Lewis, this off-season seems to be the perfect time to retool a defense that didn't quite rank where Ravens defenses of the past have. Luckily the Ravens had one of the best offenses that this franchise has ever seen to make up for some deficiencies on the opposite side of the ball. With Joe Flacco coming into his own and a solid running back tandem in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce it seems to be an ideal time to get younger and more athletic on the defensive side of the ball. This offense is full of young talent that still has room to grow and improve upon its performance this past season.
I love Ed Reed and I also am a huge fan of Bernard Pollard and the way he plays the game. I was shocked when I first heard that we had released Pollard but the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me. When Pollard was signed he was touted as a safety that hits hard and was great coming up and stuffing the run. He did lack some skill when it came to coverage which wasn't too apparent in his two years with the Ravens. With Courtney Upshaw, who is solid against the run, taking over for Paul Kruger, and the recent signing of Chris Canty on the defensive line is it necessary to have a safety that specializes in stopping the run? If he does in fact lack some things necessary to play deep on a regular basis is he here for the long haul? It seems to me that Ed Reed will not be back based on reports that he has quite a few meetings setup and the Ravens have yet to even layout an offer. Without that elite ball hawk back there with Pollard is he as valuable as he was before? I don't have all the answers to those questions but I trust Ozzie and Eric DeCosta to make the right calls.
In the end it will take some getting used to, but as fans of the Baltimore Ravens, we are seeing a transition of power on this team. Look for the next few years of Ravens football to be dominated by this offense led by the $120 million man, Joe Cool!