Tuesday's Mailbag: May 28th, 2013

James Ihedigbo (Safety, Ravens, #32) celebrates Super Bowl XLVII win on February 3rd, 2013. - USA TODAY Sports

14 questions are asked and answered, all about the Baltimore Ravens!

Happy Tuesday, Ravens Nation! I hope everyone had a fantastic Memorial Day, celebrating in whatever way you pleased! Hopefully the internet hoaxes and such didn't keep you guys up at all last night! Let's answer some questions, and then you all can get back to work or school, since I know you surely need to!

Q1: Is Joe Flacco elite?

A simple question that has been asked around social media all year long. A question that ESPN analysts, NFL analysts, and the average journalists have debated for months. Is Joe Flacco elite?

There are many people that say Flacco isn't even close, but there are also many people that say he's already there. What do I think? I think he's one step away. Joe Flacco proved that he can play football in last year's postseason. Here are just a few reasons why I think Flacco is VERY close to elite.

  • He has made the playoffs AND won a playoff game in all 5 of his NFL seasons.
  • He tied a record set by Joe Montana with 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions last postseason.
  • He has made it to three AFC Championships.
  • He has won a Super Bowl.
  • He has been a Super Bowl MVP.
  • He has just as many playoff wins as Peyton Manning. (9)
  • He has 7 less postseason wins than Tom Brady. (16)
  • He became the highest paid player in NFL history after Super Bowl XLVII.
  • Outplayed the "elite" Brady AND Manning in 2012 postseason.
Those are just a few little reasons, but the list goes on-and-on. No matter who you are, you have some kind of opinion of Joe Flacco, whatever that opinion is, and the proof is in the pudding --- he's so close to elite that he can taste it.

Q2: Do you think the Ravens will incorporate any pistol formation into their offense? And do you think they should?

I don't think the Ravens have any interest to do this. The pistol formation is for quarterbacks that are fast, versatile, and are threats to run the ball. As far as I know, Joe Flacco hasn't been working on his run game at all. Flacco has ran a few times, but he's not like an RGIII, Michael Vick, or Russell Wilson.

I do not feel the need to incorporate this kind of offense into our playbooks as long as Joe Flacco is our quarterback. 6 or 7 years down the road, the plan may change. The Ravens just need to stick to what they've been doing, as it obviously works.

Q3: Will Tyrod Taylor ever get to play?

Speaking of running quarterbacks, here's one about Tyrod! Surprisingly the first I've ever gotten about the Ravens second string quarterback.

This is a question that so many Ravens fans ask, and one that gets asked every time Flacco plays a bad game.

Taylor gets a shot to play in preseason, when we're blowing a team out, or when we need to sit our starters. Tyrod Taylor, to me, is not a starting-type-of-quarterback. Tyrod is great when the starters are on the bench, but he would not be great in important situations. As we saw in Week 17 last year vs. the Bengals, Tyrod Taylor struggles. He threw a pick six in that game, whereas he also ran for a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor could be built up as a mediocre starter, just not for the Ravens. The only way I ever see Taylor starting for the Ravens, is if Flacco gets hurt, which hopefully never happens.

Q4: Why are the Ravens purple?

The black part is obvious, which is probably why it wasn't asked.

This could be the most interesting question I've ever gotten, as it is one that I've never really thought about. I asked around to a few of my knowledgeable friends, and here is what they could come up with:

  • Purple is the color of the curtains in the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem, The Raven.
  • Purple symbolizes royalty and power.
  • The league had it chosen for them.
  • Ravens' wings are black, and slightly purple, thus wanting to make the Ravens colors purple and black, just like an actual Raven.
Whichever of these it may be, it is definitely something interesting to think about. If anybody knows the reason or has any theories, feel free to tell me in the comments!

Q5: I know it's early, but who will win in Week 3: the Ravens or the Texans?

Of course it's early, but who cares? We love to speculate about the match-ups before the season starts!

Last year, the Texans blew the Ravens out in Week 7, 43-13. This year, should be much different. The Ravens had already lost LB Ray Lewis and CB Lardarius Webb in their Week 6 match-up against the Dallas Cowboys. This, along with it being LB Terrell Suggs' first game back from a torn Achilles, spelled trouble for the Ravens. As far as we know this year, the Ravens are healthy and will be carrying a bunch of new assets going into Week 3.

Oh, and another thing, the game is at M&T Bank Stadium. So do the Texans really still have a chance? We'll see, but it could be one of the best and most challenging games of the year for the defending champions.

Q6: Who are the 10 best Ravens of all-time & what makes them so?

Truthfully, this is an opinionated question. It's also a very difficult one to answer. I could not give them in order, but I could definitely name 10 Ravens that care close to everyone's hearts.

  • Ray Lewis, LB (Played 17 seasons, all with Ravens) --- Ray Lewis is one of, if not the best, linebackers of all-time. The 17-year veteran finally retired in 2013 after winning his second Super Bowl with the Ravens. (XXXV & XLVII) The linebacker will always have a special place in Ravens' fans heart, as he was known as "The Original Raven," since he played since 1996, the Ravens first year in the NFL.
  • Ed Reed, S (Played 11 seasons, all with Ravens -- still active, playing for Texans) --- Ed Reed is another Raven that everyone has grown to love so dearly. Reed played 11 seasons with the Ravens, and is still kickin' it in the NFL, unfortunately with the Houston Texans. Ed Reed is known as one of the greatest safeties of all-time, the greatest in Ravens history.
  • Jonathan Ogden, OT (Played 12 seasons, all with Ravens) --- Jonathan Ogden, one of the best offensive linemen ever, is one whom all Ravens fans know and love. Ogden was elected into the Hall-of-Fame in 2013, during the very same week that his former team was playing in the Super Bowl. Made the Pro-Bowl 11 times out of his 12 seasons, one of the greatest possible accomplishments.
  • Matt Stover, K (Played 19 seasons, 12 with Ravens) --- It may seem weird that a kicker is on this list, but to most Ravens fans, it makes sense. Stover kicked with the Ravens for 12 seasons, becoming one of the greatest kickers in the history of the NFL. Stover retired as the third most accurate kicker ever, and the fourth leading scorer in NFL history. Stover was inducted into the Ravens Ring-of-Honor during a game vs. the Bengals on November 20th, 2011.
  • Jamal Lewis, RB (Played 9 seasons, 6 with Ravens) --- Jamal Lewis may not be recognized as one of the bests ever, but he sure is one of the best RB's in Ravens franchise history. He is most known for the 2003 season, where he rushed for 2,066 yards, third most all-time. Lewis was inducted into the Ravens Ring-of-Honor on September 27, 2012, a game against the Cleveland Browns. (I, personally, was at that game! It was my first ever Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium!)
  • Peter Boulware, LB (Played 9 seasons, all with Ravens) --- Peter Boulware leads the Ravens franchise in sacks with 70, as he also is one of the greatest LB's to ever play in Baltimore. Boulware is overlooked most of the time, but his fantastic play on the QB earns him a spot on this list. Boulware was inducted into the Ravens Ring-of-Honor in 2006.
  • O.J. Brigance, LB (Played 7 seasons in NFL, 1 with Ravens) --- O.J. Brigance may have not been with the Ravens long, but he always will be a part of the organization. Brigance was diagnosed with ALS in 2007, a very fatal disease. Brigance is one of the largest forms of motivation for the Ravens, as he is always on the sidelines. Brigance was a part of the presentation of the AFC Championship trophy, as well as the Lombardi trophy in 2013. Brigance is the only player to win both a Grey Cup (CFL) & a Super Bowl. (NFL) Talking and thinking about Brigance brings tears to many Ravens fans eyes, but it is good to know that he is still fighting and going strong. We love you, O.J.!
  • Michael McCrary, DE (Played 10 seasons, 6 with Ravens) --- McCrary isn't mentioned a lot, but he was a large contributor to the Ravens defense when it was racking up league highs and becoming the toughest defense in the NFL. McCrary is mainly known for his ability to sack the quarterback, as he is also known for all of the community work he did for the city of Baltimore while he was a member of the Ravens. McCrary was inducted into the Ravens Ring-of-Honor in 2004.
  • Art Modell, Owner (Owned Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens) --- The question never asked for the greatest Raven PLAYERS. Art Modell is the reason the Baltimore Ravens are here today. Modell decided to move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and re-name them to the Baltimore Ravens. Cleveland Browns fans hate to hear the name, but Ravens fans can't hear it enough. Unfortunately, Modell passed away in 2012. The Ravens had a patch that they wore on their jerseys for Art. After his death, every team in the NFL had a moment of silence on the following Sunday, to remember the great man that was. (All teams, except the Cleveland Browns, whom were told not to hold a moment of silence for Art by Modell's family.) Art Modell was inducted into the Ravens Ring-of-Honor in 2003.
  • Derrick Mason, WR (Played 15 seasons, 6 with Ravens) --- Derrick Mason is the Ravens all-time leader in receiving yards (5,777) & receptions. (471) Mason also holds other Ravens receiving records. Derrick Mason was a large member of the Baltimore Ravens, and one of the most memorable. Unfortunately, Mason was released in 2011, only to play one more season in the NFL. On June 11, 2012, Derrick Mason signed a 1-day contract with the Ravens. He said that he wanted to "retire a Raven."
Those were the a few of the greatest Ravens ever, as there could be many substitutions on the list, these are a few of the main players/owners to ever be a part of the Ravens organization.

Q7: Do you think the Ravens have a shot at repeating with all of the competition in the NFL now?

There was lots of competition last year, right? The Broncos, Patriots, & Texans were three teams that were ahead of the Ravens in the seeding in the playoffs last year, but they still won it all.

In the AFC, the Broncos, Patriots, Texans, Colts, Bengals, and possibly the Dolphins are the main forms of competition this season. With the absence of the Steelers in the AFC North, since it seems as if the Steelers aren't what they used to be, and they will probably be exactly like they were last season, non-existent.

In the NFC, the competition has gotten rougher. The 49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Giants, Falcons, and Vikings are all teams that are looking good so far. Teams like the Eagles and Saints are questionable, but they could still go back to being mediocre.

In my mind, we definitely have a chance. We have a younger, stronger team that is ready to fight with the other powerhouses to defend our title, and that's exactly what we're going to do.

Q8: Do you think the Ravens had a successful off-season or a minor setback?

The Baltimore Ravens had a VERY successful off-season to say the least.

First off, free agency went very well, even though they lost many key players. The Ravens were able to fill the void of those players by adding guys like Michael Huff, Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, Elvis Dumervil, etc.

Then, you look at the draft, which went EXTREMELY well. The Ravens were able to grab guys like Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Aaron Mellette, Kyle Juszczyk, and Brandon Williams.

Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the Ravens front office did a wonderful job saving money, re-signing players, and adding new guys. Like always, the Ravens seem to become stronger in the off-season. I give the Ravens a big, fat "A" for this year's off-season.

Q9: Who will be the starting receivers after Torrey Smith?

Obviously the #2 receiver will most likely be Jacoby Jones, one of the fastest men in the entire NFL. But behind these two guys? It's hard to say.

Every week I get a question like this, and I always say the same thing: Tandon Doss could be the answer. As many people have said to me, Doss seemed to drop the ball almost every time it was thrown to him in 2012. Although, I don't see this to be a problem. If Tandon Doss could work on his catching and holding skills, he could be a solid #3 receiver for the Ravens. He is also small and fast, so he could be a deep threat just like Jones and Smith.

Think about it: What if the Ravens had three guys that Flacco could go deep to, that can outrun almost every corner in the NFL? That would be scary for other defenses. Hopefully Doss gets much better in this off-season, so we can have that three-person deep threat when we need it.

Q10: What is the projected starting offensive line?

Truthfully, it could most likely be the exact same as last season's, minus Matt Birk. Thankfully, the Ravens signed Mckinnie this off-season, so he will most likely be our left tackle once again.

Of course guys like Oher, Yanda, Osemele, and Harewood will be among other starters on the offensive line. The only real question is; who will the center be? The Ravens acquired A.Q. Shipley from the Colts in a trade a month ago, while they already had Gino Gradkowski on the roster.

It seems to me and to most fans like Gradkowski will get the starting job, after being behind terrific C Matt Birk for a year. It would only make sense. The experience level between Shipley and Gradkowski is very similar, so there's no telling who will get the starting job.

Q11: What is the health status of Jameel McClain and Lardarius Webb?

Jameel McClain is doing perfectly fine. After suffering a spinal cord contusion against the Redskins last season, McClain is looking like he is in tip-top shape. Sources say that he has no restrictions on his workout, and he is doing everything physically perfect. He is only waiting for a doctor to clear him before he can play again. He feels as if that will happen before the start of this season.

Lardarius Webb is doing fine, as he was working at Ravens OTA's very well. It is being said that he isn't 100%, he is still wearing a knee brace, but he says that he is ahead of schedule as far as recovery goes. Webb tore his ACL in a game against the Dallas Cowboys last season. Webb says that he will hopefully be ready to go by the start of the regular season.

It sounds hopeful for both of these guys. Both seem like they will be ready by the start of the season, which is something very important for this team.

Q12: Find out a few no-shows at voluntary OTA's?

Among players that have not been present and will not be present at voluntary OTA's include:

I am sure that all five of these players have good reasons to be out, and it is nothing to worry about.

Q13: Who will play the most at safety: Huff, Elam, or Ihedigbo?

I feel like all three of these guys will get large amounts of playing time. I am a huge fan of these three players, as they all seem to be very talented and very hard workers.

One that seems to be the hardest worker of the three is James Ihedigbo. Ihedigbo has been working hard this off-season, trying to get that starting spot. Ihedigbo has also welcomed his new teammates with open arms, something that some players wouldn't do to their competition.

In conclusion, all three guys have the ability to see the field tons of times this season, and I hope they all do.

Q14: What rookie, if any, has the chance to make an impact like Bernard Pierce last season?

Arthur Brown.

Brown is a very talented linebacker, trying to fill the void of both Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Brown is already coming out as a leader, as he is also doing well in workouts. Brown just seems like the kind of guy that could be just like Ray Lewis from the get-go, and hopefully he will be.

In my opinion, Arthur Brown will be the most outstanding rookie for the Ravens this season, next will be Matt Elam.


Well, that's all folks! That is the end of Tuesday's Mailbag this week! I hope you all had as much fun reading this as I had writing it! Remember, we always need more questions to be asked! If you're wondering anything about the Ravens, ask me by emailing me: Victorgrayh10@gmail.com -- Tweeting me @Frezeal33 -- or putting them in the comments right here on Baltimore Beatdown!

I hope you all have a great rest of your day, and remember: Only 3 more days left in the week! Goodbye, until next week, Ravens Nation!







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